Slam Poetry Or Art For Art’s Sake?

Inga Maria Panten
3 min readDec 4, 2020
Poetry — Photo by Trust “Tru” Katsande on Unsplash

The last night changed my life — for the better.

I had the opportunity to join the “Everybody’s In Poetry Slam” at Hard Rock Café in Kuta (Bali), organized by the incredible Voices Unleashed team.

What I learnt from joining my second Poetry Slam? If you write/sing/dance/paint/… to win competitions, you are doing something wrong.

Art is not a source of validation

That’s not art, but pure self-dramatization, looking for external validation. When all you really need is right there, within you. The essence of who you are.

Any poetry slam is about sharing just that: Your heart. It is about speaking your truth, sharing your insights and staying humble.

A poetry slam is not about the judges or numbers. It is about the living, breathing PEOPLE in the room who are willing to SEE you. Who listen to your words and FEEL something with you.

Art is not about talent or skills

Art is not about talent or skills. Being an artist, more than anything else, is about having the guts to put yourself out there. It is about courage and not being attached to outcome.

It’s about daring to write a hundred terrible poems to get to that one tiny speck of gold.

It’s about allowing yourself to not be perfect.

It’s about daring to attempt, not doing justice and learning something that makes you grow. So that you can become a better artist, a better person — better at showing up for yourself and for other people.

It is about mastering your trade, gaining more experience, yes. But we can never truly master it. There is no ‘perfect’ in this world.

To be an artist, you don’t need to be great. All you need to do is TRY.

Art is about the people you touch with your work

I learnt so much that night. My heart is full.

I went there, thinking a poetry slam was about winning. And I left, knowing that the real jackpot is the love of the people.

The love and respect I received from my beautiful friends and new members of this community are worth so much more than words can express.

The many reactions I received showed me that I had reached my personal goal: I managed to touch some people with my words.

I may not have the most poetic word choice or the most touching life story. But: I HAVE A LOT TO SAY. And I feel blessed with the ability to say it in a way that touches others and make their life a tiny bit better — because they can relate. Because together, we feel less alone.

That is what art is about for me. It’s not about competitions or numbers. It’s not about the applause or material gain.

Art is about the hearts that you manage to touch with your work.

Put yourself out there

This experience has made me so much richer.

I feel reassured as an artist. Now, more than ever, I want to share my words, my passion, my heart with the world. It is the reason I exist.

I still can’t really wrap my head around the whole experience. I now — finally, after 30 years of self-doubt — understand that I have a place next to all these incredible artists and poets that I admire.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have been part of this event. And even more grateful for the support in this wonderful, loving community at Voices Unleashed.

I learnt so much and take with me new confidence in myself as an artist, new life experiences and so much warmth and hope.

THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart.

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