Heather Smyth - slam poetry

SLAM your message home: Spoken word events

This week’s Buddha Belly Badge goes to Heather Smyth for sharing this video of the awesome piece she recited at a recent SLAM competition.

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Congratulations to Heather who finished second place in the Summer Slam event! Inspiring stuff. Check out more of the slam videos on the Writer’s Community of Durham Region’s website.

So what exactly is slam poetry and spoken word? Well, according to the most trusted and reliable source in the universe, Wikipedia,

“Spoken word is a form of poetry that often uses alliterated prose or verse and occasionally uses metered verse to express social commentary. Traditionally it is in the first person, is from the poet’s point of view and is themed in current events… The spoken word and its most popular offshoot, slam poetry, evolved into the present day soap-box for people, especially younger ones, to express their views, emotions, life experiences or information to audiences.” (source: Wikipedia)

Spoken word and slam poetry are creative and powerful ways to communicate a message. Their rhythm, emotion and personal nature can help captivate your audience in ways that a written piece or straight-up speech might not.

So if you want an engaging way to articulate your message at your next charitable event or meeting, consider finding a spoken word artist in the community to SLAM the message home.

Here’s the written version of Heather’s SLAM piece. Amazing.

Cancer: A Word or a Sentence
© Heather Smyth 2012. All rights reserved.

Heather Smyth - slam poetry“I’ve heard it said that Cancer is just a word. Can it be true? If it is, then it’s THE Word defined by fear and uncertainty.

Others say Cancer is a Sentence. THE Sentence. A Death Sentence. The Sentence that ends all hope. Chokes all dreams.

So which is it? A Word or a Sentence?

I’ll tell you what I know.

Fourteen years ago I was given a Word. Cancer. It was spoken over me. Cancer; coursing through my veins with every beat, beat, beat of my heart.

At the same time, I was given a Sentence. A terminal judgment to a solitary prison. A Sentence without pardon or parole.

What could I do?

Accept the Word? Terminal.

Agree to the Sentence? “You’re a dead man walking.”

You see, the doctors spoke that Word and ordered tests to measure every beat of my heart. But I heard the Word and chose to measure the strength of my heart by the love that I shared.

The doctors spoke that Word and machines began to mechanically measure and precisely record each breath of air drawn to my lungs. While I measured the amount of living that I could squeeze out of every day simply because was alive.

The doctors trace the road map of my life by the scars carved deep on the notebook of my skin. Imperfections marking my stops in lonely towns like Chemo and Radiation and a long stay in Bone Marrow Transplant. But I look at this same damaged skin as a scrapbook of cherished souvenirs from the places I’ve traveled and just how far I’ve come on the journey. Each costly scar a precious reminder that points to my adventure tour on the roads of faith, courage, friendship and love.

Oh, the doctors gave me a Word, that’s for sure: Cancer. And with bold determination I began to write my own Sentence. A Life Sentence. A Sentence to love. A Sentence to dream big dreams and watch them come true. A Sentence to LIVE.

So maybe they’re right. Cancer is just a word. And that’s fine by me because in the end I’m the one who has the final word on how I write, no LIVE, the Sentence.”

Check out Heather’s blog at http://smythfamily.wordpress.com/

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Josh Martin
Josh Martin is the founder and chief blogger at Badge of Awesome. He lives in southwestern Ontario, Canada and is the author of "Misadventure Musings: Lessons learned from life's awesome and absurd moments" and "Going on a Bear Hunt: Five things cancer taught me about overcoming obstacles."