Spoken Word and Slam Poetry is all about studying, writing, and performing in the exuberant, genre-defying, political, personal, raucous, and powerful performance poetry scene. In this class, through poetry and theater exercises, students will seek their own poetic voices and the most powerful ways to express them to an audience. They begin by exploring the history and cultural context of performance poetry, from the ancient competitions of Greece, to Walt Whitman, the Beats, and The Last Poets, progressing to the modern forms of performance art, rap, and slam poetry (the competitive part of spoken word), the revolutionary heart of the modern performance poetry movement. Students will watch performances by the greats and create their own great performances, respecting, but also transcending the traditional and sometimes stilted boundaries of poetry. The Boston talent will come to class, in the form of guest performers, and students will get out of the classroom, discovering the thriving Boston slam scene. The semester will culminate with an end-of-semester poetry showcase and slam, in which all students participate. This is not about finger-snapping and bongo-playing, so leave your beret at the door. No experience necessary, just enthusiasm!