Not Your Typical Cheesy Love Poetry - College students showcase their work at the Bowery Poetry ClubNot Your Typical Cheesy Love Poetry
College students showcase their work at the Bowery Poetry Club
Middle-aged women using sexual innuendos. The starchy smell of an aging building. Bathrooms purposely defaced for artistic purposes. These are all features of the Bowery Poetry Club, which welcomes people of all ages to its various poetry showcases. For its monthly New York City College Slam, the trendy club invites college poets to perform in a casual spoken word battle, and encourages participation from the audience. Experience is not necessary — just bring a small dose of confidence, a clever poem or two, and a willingness to verbally showcase your ideas. Not only are participants able to polish their public speaking skills, but they also receive a prize for their efforts.
I initially went to the Bowery Poetry Club because I wanted to spend my Saturday night partaking in something unique. After all, we live in one of the most vibrant cities of the world. Having seen poetry clubs in movies, I had a few preconceptions of what a poetry club should look like, including hipsters snapping, fedoras and dim lighting. I was spot on about the dim lighting, but I hadn’t expected to enjoy myself as much as I did. In just two hours, poetry ultimately bonded every stranger in the room. Judges scored the poems on a scale of one to ten, but with a lax environment, the slam felt more like a friendly college get-together than a competition.
The poetry slammers illuminated real and relatable topics in their pieces, such as sex, statutory rape, drugs, morality and lack of morality. I was dumbfounded by the incredible rawness of each poem. The poets willingly exposed personal details of their life through their poetry, and essentially offered a piece of themselves to the audience. As college students, we all experience similar struggles either through our friends or in our own lives, and poetry can help us to share our battles in a subtle way.
Rosalyn Jimenez, junior and pre-nursing major at Hunter College, performed at the Bowery Poetry Club for an Asian-American poets’ event. Jimenez described the experience as “nerve-wracking.” “I read from my journal,” she confessed. When asked why she wanted to share her personal sentiments with the public, she responded, “I don’t categorize myself as a spoken word artist, but reading poetry is dying. I could have published my poem, but performing it was a more effective way to get my work out.”
Though the club caters to all ages, the college slam events are more fit for a mature demographic: alcohol is available for those of age, and many poets include profanity in their pieces. The poetry club does charge a small cover, which varies depending on the day and event (at the time, it was $3), but it is a small price to pay for a fulfilling experience.