Shake the Dust asked the young people from the Finnish slam group, Slämärit, how they started writing and performing poetry in the first place. One young person told us; “it was because of my great Finnish language teacher, they made slam poetry seem very interesting, so I wanted to try it myself. I had written stories before, but never poems. So, I wanted to try something new,” another said, “I have always liked poetry, ever since I was little,” and others simply “wanted to try something new!”
Shake the Dust asked this experienced slam team what it’s like to compete in a youth slam in Finland and they told us, “exciting and fun! It’s is something that has become really close to us now, I really enjoy writing poems, and performing them in a group.” Slämärit for many of them was something new and after a couple of meetings it really started to be fun, and with such a great group some of the young people have been with Slämärit for almost 3 years. They said it was a great way to work with other people and make new friends and write the poems together, “I wouldn’t do it alone,” one team member told us.
Similar to Shake the Dust the young people involved with Slämärit are lucky enough to have a Poet Coach, to help aid their development, “I like the fact that we get a professional poet to teach and talk to us. And that our teacher has to do the same exercises too!” The team take their writing on outside the sessions and are living and breathing poetry at every given moment since the project started: “we have been writing during lessons, when the teachers haven’t been looking, some of the poems have been published on the Slämärit website!”
The young people emphasised how important poems are to them as part of their Finnish culture, and didn’t hesitate to introduce us to poems like, Kalevala (a Finnish epic, written in a unique metre) as well as other interesting texts. Poetry for them helps to express themselves in a number of ways. They tell us they think it’s “something special that everyone should try.”
As the Shake the Dust Regional Finals are about to kick off across the UK, we asked the Finnish slam team for a word of advice for our teams here in England and what do they do before going on stage? They told us to, “go over the poem together, joke around and plan what to do if you, for any reason made a mistake. We share our feelings and with that we share the nerves.” One experienced slam team member said:
“I have performed a lot, and I always feel nervous before going on stage, but, I only feel nervous when I’m not on the stage. When I’m performing I always forget everything else, and I don’t feel nervous at all! When you are waiting your turn to get up stage, you just need to remember to breathe calmly and remember that nothing can go wrong.”
The Slämärit team’s advice for those who have never tried slam is: “give slamming a try, you’ll be surprised!” and to “express yourself through poems, it beats regular school so have fun and find new friends!” Some of the team said they “had doubts before our performance, but now I’m really happy that I had the guts to do Slämärit! So don’t be too shy to show what you have written. If you do so, some good ideas can go to waste. There are not stupid ideas or poems! Slämärit and Shake the Dust would recommend slam poetry to anyone!”