Before you say it, I’ll say it first: You can’t say that some art is better than other art. Art is art, art is subjective.
I get that. I believe that. But I also think that, in the case of slam poems, some are more effective than others at pulling emotion out of the viewer. Of course, this is still subjective to me and what affects me, so I’ve included at least the rubric that I’m using for these poems.
The best trans slam poems:
- Masterfully describe the trans experience with eloquence, imagery, and unflinching realism.
- Contain a narrative, or follow some form of structure that’s easy for the listener to follow.
- Use language powerfully, efficiently, and provocatively.
- Are performed passionately and emphatically.
I don’t like when comments try to define what the poem is about, since that biases my own interpretation of the poem. So I won’t do that here. I’ll include tags that describe generally what the poem is about, but I’ll leave the rest up to you.
Miles Walser – “Hierarchy”
Being transmasc vs transfem, male privilege, acceptance.
Max Binder & Mo Crist – “Real Boy/Real Girl”
“I wish I didn’t have to be ‘real’ to be allowed to exist.” Gender performativity.
Ethan Smith – “A Letter to the Girl I Used to Be”
Accepting your past self, letting go of hate. Lamenting that, through transitioning, you no longer have the ability to have children.
Quaint – Transparency
Struggle for acceptance for a transwoman. Anxiety before/during/after coming out.
Alysia Harris & Aysha El Shamayleh – “Hir”
Small girl taught to contain the boy inside her. “I’m him, and I’m her. And when you combine the two pronouns you get H-I-R. Hir. And God combined the two genders and put me in this body. Transgender. I am hir.”
Jacie Cloutier – “The Trans Poem”
Incorporates stats about being trans (spoiler: they’re not always good). *Trigger warning for those who have considered or attempted suicide, experienced bullying or intense transphobia.
Chrysanthemum Tran – “Maybe All Transgender People are Really Vampires”
Queens, ghosts, and vampires. “Maybe all transgender people are really vampires. Maybe my reflection belongs to everyone but me.”
No description. Just watch this. This poem is stunning.
Sam Rush – “Neverland”
Childhood, “Lost Boys”, Peter Pan, wishing you had that childhood freedom.
These are only some of the best trans poems out there. Let me know about others you find.