Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa on slam poetry: Teen writing boot camp
At the Library's Teen writing boot camp in March 2021, poet and playwright Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa taught teens how to overcome their nerves to deliver slam poetry straight from the heart. Here she shares some tips and reflections from the boot camp.
I spent the last four weeks hanging out with some fabulous poets, and for those who couldn't join us, I'd love to share with you what we did.
We spent the sessions doing some poetry exercises that demonstrated the use of poetic devices (like alliteration, rhyming, metaphor/simile and personification) as well as getting to know my process of writing poetry.
In between sessions I read and edited some poetry that people sent through, and it was such a joy to learn about everyone's passions.
In the last session, I got to hear poetry from the participants and I have to tell you, it blew me away. The content was so authentic and honest, they took us on an emotional journey.
For me, spoken word poetry is all about authenticity. I don't care if the performer is stumbling, forgetting lines, visibly nervous, or not very confident − because all of that doesn't matter for me in a poetry performance. What matters is someone standing up for their truth, their beliefs, and sharing from the heart.
A lot of people find it hard to start, but I urge you to sign up for a workshop, put your name into a hat to perform, enter a writing competition and give yourself deadlines, because you can spend your whole life saying you're going to do something but never do it. Do it now. Don't be afraid, because you're not alone. The arts community needs people like you, fresh voices and perspectives that only you can give.
Hopefully I'll get to see you soon but for now, keep writing and slam to your heart's content!