What is slam poetry? According to the dictionary, it has no meaning. But when it is broken up, slam means, “To shut with force and noise.” And poetry means, “The art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.”
Put them together and what do you get? A man named Buddy Wakefield, three-time individual World Poetry Slam Champion.
Slam poetry has a very distinct sound to it. It is poetry, yet it has been compared to freestyle rapping.
Although slam poetry has no official dictionary definition, it is described as competitive poetry, kind of like a sport. Similar to all other sports, the players (poets) each have their own style.
His style may be why Wakefield is three-time world champion. He grabs you with demonstrative verses, and keeps you entertained with comical phrases.
A YouTube video titled, “The Information Man” shows Wakefield on stage reciting a poem. Just when the poem reaches its climax, he shouts, “Even at your worst, you are f*****g incredible!”
Critics of slam poetry say that this is vulgar and inappropriate. However, Buddy could care less. “My favorite part, if I had to pick one, is watching people take it too seriously because it is high entertainment for me,” said Wakefield.
Wakefield has had a very unusual path to his career choice. “Before I became a performance poet, I was working as the executive assistant at a biomedical firm in Gig Harbor, Washington,” said Wakefield.
He suddenly quit his job and sold or gave away all of his possessions, except for his Honda Civic. He lived in his car and explored North America, searching for poetry venues.
Now an established poet, he tours the country and performs at different colleges and venues all over the U.S.
On February 16th, Wakefield put on a show at Whatcom Community College. Before the show started, he picked two audience members to open for him by reciting their own poems.
When Wakefield was announced, he rolled out a full sized piano onto the stage, along with a ukulele, both of which he does not know how to play. He relied on audience members to join him on stage and play those instruments while he recited one of his poems.
Buddy Wakefield is not just a poet. He is an entertainer, he wants to make the audience laugh and have a good time. When Wakefield is on stage, he interacts with people with the crowd, poses for pictures, and most of the time wanders off topic when he is telling a story.
Although he is one of the best slam poets in the world, Wakefield hasn’t actually competed in years. “What I do up there is just me hanging out and being myself,” Wakefield said about the show.