From Dr. Jerry Hankins’ Poetry Website: Poetry Slams and the International Competition

Dr. Jerry Hankins:

Poetry Slam Competition

Poetry Slam Competition

Every year the art and poetry world gets together to watch the iWPS or Individual World Poetry Slam Competition, bringing the worlds artists together to watch 72 poets from around the world to compete in the art of spoken word. Competitive art, you ask?

Yes. Slam poetry is based in competition. It all started in Chicago in 1984 as an event at the Get Me High Lounge. The concept was quickly adopted by the New York City art scene, but the first national poetry slam was held in San Francisco and included both teams and individual poets. The format varies but often involves judges being chosen from the audience to rate poets on a one to ten scale.

The iWPS is a three day competition and one of three main competitions held by Slam Poetry, Inc. There are 72 competitors and one winner. The competition is important to the hosting city, workshops and various poetry related events are held. Some of the more obscure of these poetry events are theme based slams like queer, women, erotic, or even nerd slams.

Slams are not immune to criticisms. Some slams are explicitly judged by audience applause while the others are indirectly judged by audience favor. So, many critics argue, the poet is forced to conform art to please an audience like a reality show. Moreover, competition in general tends to be avoided by many artists, and poets are often the more eclectic of artists.




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From Dr. Jerry Hankins’ Poetry Website: The State of Poetry

Dr. Jerry Hankins:

reading poetry

Anything article you read on poetry today seems to touch on what is seen as the elephant in the room, is it dead? The fact that any conversation surrounding it must eventually end up on the question of poetry’s mortality, or whether it has been replaced by another medium like rap, does not bode well for the it.

A recent post by Jennifer Schuessler in the New York Times asks the ”Is Poetry Dead?” question. The article goes on to say 45 states and even some cities have official poet laureates, arguing essentially that the existence of poets and poetry means that it still exists, but is existence, life? Sure, in the literal definition.

The question of whether social media is the culprit and the reason for its slow, diminishing relevance is another question that needs to be answered. Social media seems to be the go-to root of any problem that exists in our society. Such cynicism is not productive and is certainly not going to rid the world of it. Social media is enhanced communication, and should be a platform for poetry. Juan Felipe Herrera, California’s poet laureate, has utilized the platform to promote, “The Most Incredible and Biggest Poem On Unity in the World”. A poem by Juan Felipe Herrera is included below.

Perhaps the most interesting of arguments of its transformation comes less from proponents of poetry and more from the defenders of rap music. But aside from a few non-mainstream artists it’s difficult to call that poetry or even music for that matter. But that rare instance where the lyrics are provocative, thoughtful, and encourage change, poetry would be lucky to have the comparison.

Is it poetry dead? Surely not. Here is a poem for you:

“In the Cannery the Porpoise Soul


In the cannery the porpoise soul
& the shadow fins of spirit boats lie awake
the hundred hooks & flying reels
one harpoon
& the silver fleshing in the nets
the mayor is waiting/counting scales
dreaming new quotas & tuna coasts
(under the table blood & payrolls
swim to the shores on a crucifix of oil)
in the cannery the porpoise soul
steals a dagger for the engines throat
tuna fins etch an X
on the green stone of the ships floor
there are documents with worker sweat
files & rolled sleeve salt
a spear of sails & anchor years
inside the shoulders & against the ropes
a policy gunned the waves back
before the porpoise sea was born”



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From Dr. Jerry Hankins’ Poetry Website: Why Poetry Is So Important – Dr. Jerry Hankins’ Blog Page

Dr. Jerry Hankins:

Dr. Jerry Hankins Poetry Blog

Dr. Jerry Hankins’ Poetry Blog

While you may not be able to remember many names of the poems you read in school, you can at least remembering reading poetry at some point between kindergarten and high school graduation.  In a world where math and science skills are in high demand, it’s easy to forget the important role poetry plays in education.

Poetry helps children want to create something.  There is an apparent rhythm and beat to most poetry and, while this rhythm might not be as musical as children are used to, they will recognize it and are likely to become intrigued by it.  They will start to question the rhyme and syntax and structure and why certain patterns fall the way they do.  At this point, writing becomes less like literal written words on a page, and more like an art form that is appealing to children who have never dealt with poetry before.  Even if children do not understand all of the words in a piece or the meaning of a poem, they will still start to analyze the structure of it.

While often thought of as something associated with literature or poetry, critical analysis is an extremely important skill to have even for basic writing and editing purposes.  There should always be some sort of flow to a piece of writing.  While the structure of different texts or papers is bound to vary, poetry can help children realize that an absence of some sort of textual structure—even a structure that is intended to break the rules of grammar and punctuation—takes away from a piece of writing.  Honing critical analysis skills through exposure to poetry will increase children’s future abilities to read critically, edit, and ultimately develop their own overall voice and writing style.

Writing also helps children share their ideas.  Poetry lets people express themselves individually while simultaneously realizing that they are part of a bigger community.  Children, especially ones who may have experienced something negative at a young age, need to be able to express themselves, share their feelings, and hear other peoples’ stories as well. In a similar way, if a child is overjoyed, he or she should be able to find a way to communicate that as well.  A few lines in a poem can completely change the way a person looks at an experience.  Because of this, poetry is often seen as something that promotes learning and personal growth.

Ultimately, poetry creates a space for speaking and listening.  It can be used as an outlet for overwhelming emotions, as an aid to children on the path of self-discovery, or act as a learning tool for enhancing academic skills.  Poetry can help children introduce themselves to their classmates, explain a feeling, share a story.  Math, science, and general writing skills are important, but poetry needs to have its place in schools as well because it gives a form of personal expression to children and helps them to better understand the different people and  events in world around them.

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From Dr. Jerry Hankins’ Poetry Website: About The Poetry Foundation

Dr. Jerry Hankins:

Poetry is an important part of history. There is a website called the Poetry Foundation which works to keep poetry in today’s society and for its importance to be recognized. The website is very comprehensive in that it provides a number of poems for enjoying, special resources, programs, and so forth. When you are browsing the poems you can view specific catagories. This means you can browse by subject such as nature or love or you can browse by the period when it was written and so forth. There are a lot of great options for exploring the website’s directory of poems. The poetry direction is iPhone and iPad compatible for those times when you are out and about and need some quick inspiration. The Poetry foundation is the publisher of a magazine dedicated to Poetry, which is simply called Poetry. The website also allows you to get in touch with the organization or subscribe to the official Newsletter. You can also connect with the Poetry foundation on their Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr pages. The Poetry Foundation even has an official app available. The Poetry Foundation is based out of Chicago. For more information on The Poetry Foundation be sure to check out their official website at For more information on Dr. Jerry Hankins, please visit the remainder of this website or one of his other sites that can be accessed via the link section.

from Dr. Jerry Hankins Poetry