Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? At first, we thought it was National Poultry Month. We were going to do a Wonder about chickens dancing — a real “fowl ball” — but then a friend told us we needed to do a Wonder about POETRY, not POULTRY.

So here it is! Do you like to read poetry? When many kids hear the word “poetry,” they think of stuffy old poems that are hard to read and understand.

But poetry has so much more to offer! From haiku and acrostic poems to limericks and sonnets, poetry can speak to the heart and the mind in powerful ways.

If you think you don’t like poetry, think about these questions. Do you like music? What about the catchy rhymes of hip-hop and rap, in particular? Do you sometimes hear the lyrics of a song and they speak to you in a way that makes you want to remember them forever? Many songs are simply heartfelt poems set to music.

And if you think poetry is an “old” art form that has no relevance today, think again! People who think poetry isn’t a “cutting edge” art form have never been to a poetry slam.

A poetry slam is a competition in which individuals or teams perform their own personal poetry before an audience, which judges the poems and the artists’ performances. Poetry slams are often held on college campuses or at coffee houses.

The poetry slam was the invention of construction worker and poet Marc Smith. In 1984, he began holding poetry readings at a Chicago jazz club in an effort to revive the art of performing poetry live.

Eventually, his readings turned into a regular competition on Sunday nights called the Uptown Poetry Slam. In addition to picking audience members to judge the competition, Smith also offered cash prizes for the winners. The Uptown Poetry Slam still takes place every Sunday night.

Although the rules of poetry slams can vary from location to location, the basic rules are similar across competitions: poets have three minutes to perform an original poem they have written.

They may not use props, costumes or musical instruments. Five judges give scores from 0-10. The high and the low scores are thrown out, and the middle three scores are added together to give poets a possible score range of 0-30.

At a poetry slam, the audience is encouraged to participate by reacting to all aspects of the show. This might include cheering for their favorite poets, booing judges who give low scores and laughing along with the host’s jokes.

Depending upon what type of poetry slam you attend, you never know what type of poetry you’ll hear. A typical poetry slam might include all sorts of different types of poetry, including love poems, critical social commentary, hilarious comic poems and moving personal confessions.

77 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (28 votes, avg. 4.29 out of 5)
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    • Thanks for letting us know what you thought about today’s Wonder of the Day®, Ke’Undra! We’re sorry you didn’t care for this Wonder, but we encourage you to visit Wonderopolis again soon! There are LOTS of AWESOME things to learn here! :-)

    • We think your guess about tomorrow’s Wonder is GREAT, Stefani and KD! Thank you for sharing it with us! We appreciate your comment and hope you had a SUPER time hanging out in Wonderopolis today! :-)

  1. I OWN IN POETRY SLAMMING, AND I WAS THE FIRST COMMENT CHICK. YEAH, I LOVE WONDEROPOLIS.

    • We think it’s SO COOL that you compete in poetry slams, “Poetry Slam King!” We bet you are AWESOME at it! Thank you for sharing your personal connection to today’s Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  2. Poetry Slam sounds enjoyable and fun. We are performing our very own “Poetry Jam” this afternoon. We are reading and reciting poetry for our classmates.

    We are WONDERing why a performer was playing the guitar in the video if instruments are not allowed.

    • Hello, Ms. K’s ELA! Thank you guys so much for visiting today’s Wonder and leaving us a great comment sharing what you thought about it! We think it’s AWESOME that you guys are performing in your own “Poetry Jam!” We know you will all do your best and have lots of FUN!

      The video for today’s Wonder features a special kind of poetry jam that was interactive! The poets and the production crew did different things like show special graphics on the screen behind the poets, give the audience iPads so they could change the sound and images, AND play music! We guess they all kind of made their own rules about their poetry jam! :-)

  3. I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day is about homonyms and homophones!

    Example: “How much can a bare bear bear?” :)

    • We think you’re super clever about your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder, Rahul! We hope you’re right, too…we think it’s FUN to play with words! :-)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We have been enjoying reading poems from The Poem Farm this month. We really liked Knickknack and we read it in a round. It is so fun!! We read, write, and share poetry every Friday on Poetry Friday. It’s a morning of poetry and bagels (or sometimes muffins or apples). Thanks for your great Wonder today!

    Mrs. Johnson’s third grade

    • WOW! We wish we could be in your classroom for Poetry Fridays, Mrs. Johnson’s Third Grade! It sounds like so much FUN to share poems the creative way you guys do! Thank you for telling us about your experience with The Poem Farm…we think it is a WONDERful website that gets our Wonder brains thinking about AWESOME poetry! :-)

  5. We have written many different types of poetry like haikus, limericks and acrostic poems. We thought today’s wonder was cool and the video was neat. We didn’t know what slam poetry was until today. It would have been funny to see chickens dancing, though. Maybe you can do that sometime in May. Tomorrow’s wonder might be about homographs or homophones. Have a WONDROUS Day!

    • We think the dancing chickens would have been super FUNNY to see, too, Mr. Draper’s Class! We’re glad you guys got to learn a new way to express yourselves and share creative words at the same time…poetry slams are AWESOME! Be sure to have a WONDROUS day, too, OK? :-)

    • We appreciate your opinion of today’s Wonder, “wonder!” We know of LOTS of Wonder Friends who like learning new, creative ways to express themselves and share their poems and thoughts. Poetry slams are a REALLY COOL way to do that! We’re super sorry you didn’t connect with this Wonder, but we hope you’ll give tomorrow’s Wonder a try! :-)

  6. Cool! I had to memorize a poem for mom when we were studying poetry last year {I’m home schooled}. I forget the kind of poem it is, but it goes like this:
    A flea and a fly in a flue,
    were imprisoned what could they do.
    let us flea said the fly
    Let us fly said the flea
    So they flew out a flaw in the flue.

    It’s fun to say. I love that poem. It’s from a book called A Child’s Introduction to Poetry. It comes with a CD to listen to. I love wonderopolis and all your awesome wonders. :)

    • This was such a FANTASTIC comment, Caelah! Thank you for sharing that poem! We agree with you, it really IS super fun to say! We will try to memorize it, too, and share it with some of our friends when we see them today! Thanks for teaching us a WONDERful poem and for visiting today’s Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  7. We liked today’s wonder. We read some silly Jack Prelutsky poems today. Poetry is fun!

    We’re not really sure what tomorrow’s wonder will about. We’re a little new to spelling words. ;)

    • We agree, Miss Kirsten’s Kindergarten GT Class! Poetry is SO, SO, SOOOOO MUCH FUN! We really enjoy reading silly poems, too! Thanks for sharing that you guys read some awesome poems by Jack Prelutsky today…he is super creative with words! :-)

  8. I love wonderopolis so much, I wish I could be on it all day. If I finished reading the day’s wonder I’d go to old ones I’ve never read and read them. I love you guys so much. I wish I could really meet you.

    • We think your comment is SO AWESOME, Caelah! Thank you for all the nice things you said about visiting Wonderopolis! It makes us all happy to know that you like WONDERing and learning here with us each day and that you enjoy exploring past Wonders, too. You are a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  9. Hey, Caelah, I’m home schooled, too! I had to memorize a poem, too!

    But here’s a funnier poem:
    Eleteloponey

    Once there was an elephant,
    Who tried to use the telephant-
    No! no! I mean an elephone
    Who tried to use the telephone-
    (Dear me! I am not certain quite
    That even now I’ve got it right.)

    Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
    Entangled in the telephunk;
    The more he tried to get it free,
    The louder buzzed the telephee-
    (I fear I better drop the song
    Of elephop and telephong!)

    I love that poem!!!!
    :D

    • Thanks for sharing this poem with everyone in Wonderopolis today, Annie! We think it’s super funny and has some really neat words in it! We’re glad you stopped by today’s Wonder and that you made a connection with another one of our AWESOME Wonder Friends, Caelah! We think you BOTH rock! :-)

    • Hi, Chance! We think a future Wonder about hip-hop is a GREAT idea! Thanks so much for suggesting it and THANKS for hanging out in Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • It makes us super happy to know that you like learning, exploring and WONDERing in Wonderopolis, Ciana! Thanks for leaving us this cool comment to let us know that today! :-)

    • Well, we think your comment is a COOL and WONDERful comment, Emily! Thanks for sharing that you liked today’s Wonder! We appreciate hearing that! :-)

    • Happy Monday, Mrs. Wilbanks! We appreciate you letting us know that you liked today’s Wonder! We think poetry is AWESOME, and we’re glad you do, too! :-)

    • It’s pretty cool that poetry has its own month-long celebration, isn’t it, E.B.? Have you had a chance to visit all the FUN poetry-focused past Wonders that we linked to in today’s Wonder? They are really great to explore! We encourage you to click on the colorful links inside today’s Wonder to have some more POETRY FUN! :-)

    • Hi there, buglover! We thought the video for this Wonder of the Day® was cool, too! We think it would be FUN to present a poem at a poetry slam, don’t you? :-)

  10. Hey Wonderopolis, once again it’s me. Do you speak in code? It’s okay if you don’t. Have you guys watched the hunger games (or read the book) I haven’t. It sounds interesting. I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about words that sound the same but are spelled different.

    • Hi, Mushkale! Thanks for leaving us another AWESOME comment! We haven’t seen The Hunger Games movie or read any of the books yet, but we know there are LOTS of Wonder Friends out there who are BIG fans of all of them! :-)

    • WOW! What an enthusiastic comment you left for us today, Sarah…we think it is AMAZING! Thank you for being excited about Wonderopolis and today’s Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  11. Hey guys!
    Speaking of finding out if your a poet and you don’t know it every time my teacher rhymes accidently she always says “I’m a poet and I don’t know it!”
    It’s really funny:)

    • That IS really funny, Kayla! Thanks for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®! We think rhyming and word play are both AWESOME ways to express our creativity! :-)

  12. This was so boring :( . But I do give you a :) at doing all you can do. I think mine is better: roes are red, violets are blue, cherries are sweet and so are you.

    • Hello, Madison! We really appreciate you letting us know what you thought about today’s Wonder! Thank you for your opinion and for sharing your comment with us today! :-)

  13. Thank you so much for sharing all this great information. We are a month behind, but in our second grade classroom we are beginning a Poetry Challenge that will last through the month of May. I think we might have to wrap up our challenge with a Poetry Slam for our friends and family!

    • That sounds like a WONDERful activity to help celebrate the end of your Poetry Challenge, Mrs. Williams! We hope you guys have lots of FUN learning about poetry! We know your Poetry Slam will be AWESOME! :-)

    • Thanks for helping everyone learn how to make a smiley face that winks, Mushkale! We think we’ve got it, now >>> ;)

      Here’s another COOL one…with sunglasses! >>> 8)

  14. Here’s a place for people to submit their poetry.

    http://www.barefootreview.org).
    The Barefoot Review is an open poetry forum for poets with disabilities and
    their caretakers. It is a valuable cathartic resource for people living
    with disabilities. Right now TBR is actively seeking submissions for their
    next issue and we want to get the word out to as many people as possible.

    • Thanks for sharing about The Barefoot Review, Jamie Sue! We think writing is a WONDERful way to express your feelings and emotions! It’s great that you guys give people with physical difficulties (and their caretakers) a platform for creative expression! Thank you for visiting this Wonder of the Day® about poetry slams…we hope you will visit us again soon! :-)

    • We sure appreciate hearing that, Bryce! Thank you for being such a WONDERful Wonder Friend! We hope you had as much fun as we did learning all about Sloppy Joes today! :-)

    • We really like hearing how much you enjoyed the video for this Wonder of the Day®, Rachel! We hope it inspires you to write some poetry of your own…it’s a WONDERful way to express your creativity! :-)

    • What a great Wonder, Krisi G! We are so happy that you have been using your imagination to come up with your own Wonders– way to go! :)

      It takes a lot of Wonder Friends and a lot of time to create our Wonders, so it might take a bit of time to get the Wonder up and running! We are so happy you shared your idea with us– thank you! :)

  15. I LOOVEEEEE this amazing cool video! I love to sing that song! I will watch it over again! Thank you for this cool video! :) :o:D $$$

    • HOORAY, we’re so very glad you enjoyed this Wonder, Kathy! We’re glad you’re back WONDERing with us! Happy National Poetry Month! :)

    • We’re so glad you’re here today, Alvarao! Thanks for sharing your comment and telling us about how you will continue to Wonder! How great! :) It’s so much fun to Wonder with you! Keep up the great work! :)

  16. coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool
    coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool
    coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is a poetry slam?
  • Who invented the poetry slam?
  • Can you write poetry?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Wonderopolis would like to thank Wonder Friend Amy Ludwig VanDerwater for suggesting the following WONDERful poetry activities for today’s Wonder of the Day. Check them out! You probably never realized there were so many ways to have fun with poetry.

  • Read poems! No matter your mood or personality, there are poems waiting for you to find and love. Sometimes a poem will make you laugh, and sometimes a poem will help you know that you are not alone. Ask your librarian to show you the poetry section of your library and lose yourself in these short bursts of beauty and power. You can also read many poems online. One place to visit is The Poem Farm, where you can search poems by topic or by technique.
  • Memorize a poem! If you love a poem, you might choose to learn it by heart. If you do this, the poem will live inside of you forever. Ask some adults you know if they know any poems by heart. If they do, ask them to recite it for you. Listen and enjoy. If you need some help with poem memorization, read tips about How to Memorize a Poem online.
  • Write poems! Poems come in any shape, any size and any feeling. To begin, all you need is to trust your mind and heart…and follow your pencil. There are many wonderful books about writing poetry. Ask your librarian to recommend a book about writing poetry.
  • Record yourself reading poetry!  At No Water River, you can watch videos of writers reading their own poems.  After watching and getting a few ideas, you may wish to get together with a friend and record yourself reading favorite poems by others or by you.  You may videotape yourself, or maybe you’ll just record your voice.  Either is wonderful, for poetry is meant to be heard, the words flying on air.
  • Submit your poems! Discover the many magazines and sites which publish writing by young people by visiting Spilling Ink online.
  • Give a poem as a present! A poem speaks heart-to-heart, always fits and lasts forever.

Still Wondering

ReadWriteThink’s Shape Poems tool helps children write and print their poems in many different shapes.

Wonder What’s Next?

If words are spelled the same and pronounced the same, do they mean the same thing? Find out tomorrow in Wonderopolis!

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