A poetry slam is a creative writing competition where contestants perform spoken word poetry. This fresh take on the oral performance of poetry first originated in the USA in the 80s. Later, the format has spread internationally, encouraging many to explore the world of spoken poetry.
One such enthusiast is Florian Cieslik, a slam poet, and lyricist. This true master of the words has made a name for himself on the German Poetry Slam scene, performing and taking part in competitions all around the country. Lucky for us, he’s willing to share some of his expertise with other language aficionados and the iHeartBerlin team had the chance to take a closer look at his technique during a recent Poetry Slam Workshop organized by the Irish Whiskey brand Tullamore D.E.W.
It was no coincidence that this particular brand would organize creative writing workshops. Tullamore D.E.W., being one of the most notable Irish Whiskey Brand, is all about celebrating the Irish heritage. One of its defining characteristics is the significance of poetry and literature in the Irish culture. And just as the whiskey itself, which is a blend of Pot Still, Malt and Grain Whiskey, literature, and poetry always profit from variety. The iHeartBerlin team joined a group of other Berlin-based bloggers for a workshop exploring this idea.
The event was organized in Fabrik 23, an awesome venue in Wedding, which was excellent for the purpose – very close to the heart of the city, and yet cozy enough that we could truly focus on honing our creative process and almost forget about the reality we’ve temporarily left behind closed doors. A taste of the Tullamore D.E.W. Whiskey also contributed to our creative juices flowing – and plenty of those were needed to complete the tasks prepared by Florian Cieslik!
The exercises forced us out of our language comfort zone – we had to let our word flow absolutely free and uninfluenced by any conventions. No boundaries were set for the imagination – which can be a novelty for most bloggers, who usually need their texts precisely optimized. After this preparation, we were introduced to various forms of short literary pieces and had the chance to create our own tiny works.
A poetry slam is not just about achieving a high level of proficiency with words and being able to approach the vocabulary from different angles, always striving for a text that will absolutely captivate the audience. The performance itself involves a variety of skills that one has to practice, like the appropriate facial expressions and gestures, clear pronunciation, and the ability to appear just as convincing as possible.
At the end of the workshop, each participant performed the text that they had created. The only condition was that it had to do with diversity without actually using the word. In my short poem, I focused on the little things that we Berliners have in common, in spite of all our differences:
Going to Berlin Is like a cultural safari
It’s been like that for decades –
Yet, it’s nothing ordinary
We are artists and creatives
Heirs of the Boheme
Even if our main form of expression
Is usually a post with a meme
We’ve learned from the greatest
We’re a motley crowd
We might just be bloggers
But we make Bowie proud!
We wake up and follow
The almighty disco ball
Now, let us drink up
And let the good times roll!