Poetic Power: Reflections on World Poetry Day 2015

By Julia Dunn on March 23, 2015

If you ask any close friend of mine, “what would you say Julia’s strongest passion is?” they’ll likely say “poetry.”

…or chocolate.

But probably poetry.

Photo Via: https://cupertinopoetlaureate.files.wordpress.com

As someone who practically lives and breathes poetry, and writing in general, World Poetry Day (March 21st) feels as great as a birthday, from my point of view. If I’m not writing poetry, I’m reading poetry, or thinking of poetry.

Before beginning college at UC Santa Cruz, I had written poetry mainly as a means of grieving lost relationships. It was a great avenue for expression of any kind, and still is. But I had no idea the impact that poetry, especially slam poetry, would have on my experience in a brand new town at a brand new school. UCSC’s poetry scene blew me away the minute I arrived at my first college poetry slam.

When I got to school, I heard that there were poetry slams held every other week at the Fireside Lounge on campus, and I decided to go to the first one of the quarter. Once I arrived and sat down, I immediately noticed a unique feeling of freedom, acceptance, and support in the room, just in the way people chatted before the slam started. When the slam began, that energy grew more and more positive. Even though student judges were supposed to score each poet’s performance from 0-10, everyone cheered for each other out of genuine appreciation for each other. Scores were arbitrary.

The depth of each poem’s content was enough to bring tears to the eyes of listeners, including mine. Subjects ranged from oppression, sexuality, social inequality, romantic and parental relationships, to college life itself. It was at this first slam that I decided I couldn’t afford to ever miss a single poetry slam held on this campus. I understood that slam poetry was medicinal, and that slam poetry is to me as a charger is to a cell phone.

Photo Via: http://www.acui.org

Poetry’s power to evoke the best and worst of our feelings is why it seems to have astonishing healing properties. This underrated art form welcomes raw, uncensored human experience. Every participant in a slam is able to connect through energy, whether you’re performing or just sitting in the audience. The shouts, finger snaps, and encouragement among speakers and listeners unify all bodies in the room. I find slam poetry to be an escape from life, yet simultaneously a healthy confrontation with life.

But even if you’re writing poetry on paper, the creative freedom you have is still boundless. You can play around with shape and form of the text, and use different techniques to create a dynamic experience for the reader, either in terms of sound (if reading a poem aloud) or in terms of visual appearance of the words on the page.

If you love music, you may already be enjoying poetry without even recognizing it–musicians make use of poetic lyrics in their songs more often than not. Listen to any song by Daughter, or even UCSC alumnus Brett Dennen for some amazing lyrics that not only sound stunning in the music itself, but look great on paper!

"Shallows" - Daughter

“Shallows” – Daughter
Photo Via: www.pinterest.com

So in honor of World Poetry Day, I would like to share a short list of incredible poets for anyone interested in some high-quality literary enjoyment:

  • Audre Lorde

  • Sylvia Plath

  • Adrienne Rich

  • Robert Frost

  • Allen Ginsberg

  • H.D.

  • Marianne Moore

  • Maya Angelou

Photo Via: http://izquotes.com/

And for spoken word fans out there, here are a few links to some amazing slam poetry performances:

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot
Photo Via: www.tumblr.com

Happy World Poetry Day 2015!

Photo Via: confessionsofalitaddict.wordpress.com



By Julia Dunn

Uloop Writer
A writer, editor and educator based in Northern California.

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