“The points are not the point; the point is poetry.” – Allan Wolf, 1994.
Putrajaya, 16th July 2017 –On 12th of July 2017, Persatuan Pelajar Kelompok Ilmu held Slam Night 2017, the very first poetry slam in UNITEN. The slam is a platform that showcases bright, upcoming poets, where they “battle” it out using their poems. This Slam Night is a continuity to a workshop called Slam Workshop, also hosted by Persatuan Pelajar Kelompok Ilmu on the 20th June 2017.
Slam Workshop acts as the introduction for Slam Night, where aspiring poets undergo poetry workshop session conducted by 3 poet-mentors from the contemporary English scene in Kuala Lumpur; Jamal Raslan, Afi Noor, and Sheena Baharudin. Students who attended the 2-hour session were given the opportunity to sign-up for the Slam Night as a slammer. Those who signed up were paired with their respective mentors that guide them in writing what probably is their first poem ever.
Poetry slams are a form of literary competition that first emerged in the 1980s in the USA. Poets perform spoken word poetry, a type of poetry that puts emphasis on how it is recited or performed and compete with each other in a room of spectators. Poems can be of any form, style, and even language as long as it is performed in front of a crowd. Spoken word poetry, or commonly known as slam poetry in this form, are regarded as more energetic and emotional as poets are expressing themselves in the moment and embody their poems. Typically, the poems are judged by 5 randomly chosen crowd members who are then instructed to give scores on a scale of 10, with decimals encouraged. This creates a more democratized approach to standard poetry competition.
Slam Night 2017 embodies the spirit of poetry slams and a total of 8 poets signed up for the slam and were mentored by their respective mentors over the 2-week gap post-workshop. The 3 mentors act as judges, with Dr. Anita Harris, a senior literature lecturer from UKM as the fourth judge, with the fifth being a crowd member, in line with the spirit of a poetry slam. With each interval of 3 poets, the mentors performed their own spoken word poetry to showcase the differences in styles in the local poetry scene.
“There are a lot of potential (in the students) especially once they’re given the opportunity to do so,” said Afi Noor when asked to review the overall performance of the slammers throughout the workshop and slam.
When asked how difficult it is for poetry to be associated with engineering students in a primarily engineering campus, Afi says that “Poetry transverses all and I don’t think it is meant to be hindered away from engineering students since I was a science student myself!,”
The winner of Slam Night 2017 was Shaan Gom, an Electrical and Electronics Engineering student with his poem “Thanks, Dad” with a score of 27.7 out of a total 30 points.
“Initially, I made up my mind on not joining for the slam. But then my mentor (Afi Noor) asked me to just try and see how it goes since this is my first time doing a slam, and the poem was the first poem I have ever made,” said Shaan when asked about how he felt before going up the stage.
“But I felt relieved and thrilled at the same time while on stage!”
With this new spark of interest in poetry and literature, we can hope that more students get involved in poetry and the literature and maybe give birth to more future poets!
For more pictures and videos of the event, head to : https://www.instagram.com/kelompok_ilmu/
Written by: Ariff Naqiuddin Bin Abd Rahim
Photo Source: Persatuan Pelajar Kelompok Ilmu, Ariff Naqiuddin Bin Abd Rahim