Slam it up

Chetana Divya Vasudev meets a slam poet whose style is distinguished by the acoustic component

Published: 28th September 2013 09:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th September 2013 09:10 AM   |  A+A-


Amidst the poetry reading, Bangalore Literature Festival brings with it a whole new aspect ­­– slamming - which involves taking poetry to the stage first rather than publishing it – through German poet Bas Boettcher, who has slammed for over two decades now.

For him, poetry aims at a connection between two hemispheres of words – the acoustic or sound and the meaning. At his slam poetry workshop for young adults, Boettcher used a tree as an example, halving it above the roots.

“If there’s a word 'earth' and the word 'birth', on one level, you can combine the sounds to create a poem, and on the other, you can combine their meanings. I always find it more productive to brainstorm for ideas for each of these levels separately,” he shares.

Paying close attention to the acoustic component marks Boettcher’s style. “You come up with keywords like earth and birth and leave gaps for rest of the lines, filling them up to generate rhythm,” he says.

So how is his poetry different from rap?

“In rap, you keep to the four beat rhythm, that’s why it’s easy for the rap artist and the DJ to play in harmony. This has rhythm too, but I’m free to bring in variation as I please. So my poetry is more like jazz than like rap,” he replies.

“I like to create a structure, follow it and break it at the end to bring about an element of surprise,” says Boettcher, illustrating his statement with his poem. Reciting ‘Punkt’ (meaning, dot or point), he advises participants to choose simple topics that ‘allow for greater innovation’ as he feels it’s difficult to identify fresh perspectives if the subject is complex. “There are so many ways in which you can look at a point – it’s the centre, encircled by the more important things; what people collect, such as miles when they fly or points in supermarkets. It’s what supermarkets use to collect people, to build a consumer base; it could be a pixel in a photograph, little pictures that make up a larger image,” he describes.

Like his poems, Boettcher springs a surprise on his audience towards the end of the session; he does not read and write except in his native tongue, he declares in the fluent English that he has spoken in throughout the duration of the workshop, even providing English sub-texts to his poetry so that the participants may follow.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp