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Luka Lesson and The Slam Poetry

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Luka Lesson and The Slam Poetry Essay

Throughout history, poets have shown intense human experiences. In these times, readers are showered with a range of texts about these experiences or issues, from posters, paintings and photography through to music videos and advertising. Alongside these, there is also the centuries old tradition of poetry, and more recently, rap and slam poetry. Slam poetry is a form of performance poetry that combines the elements of performance, writing, competition, and audience participation. It is performed at events such as poetry slams, or simply slams.

The slam movement began in the 1980’s when poet Marc Kelly Smith felt that passion for poetry was beginning to fade, and wanted to attract new audiences through making poetry more accessible and amusing. He created an event for poetry which was held weekly, and was open for anyone to perform their work which was then judged and scored by random members of the audience. The slam movement proved to be democratising and has since risen to be one of the most popular forms of poetry due to its easy accessibility, according to ‘Study Breaks’. Slam provides a platform for poets to place a spotlight on current issues through the entertaining medium of spoken word, whilst also keeping alive the tradition of poetry.

Luka Lesson is one of the greatest poets of the slam movement, holding the titles of Australian Poetry Slam Champion of 2011 and Melbourne Poetry Slam Champion of 2010, and being named a “sonic literary genius” by New York poet Taylor Mali, who we will be looking at next lesson. Luka Lesson grew up in a traditional Greek family where he worked with underprivileged students, before moving to Australia where he began to initiate Indigenous programs. Due to his ethnicity, Lesson has suffered from discrimination throughout his life. He often uses his own experiences to confront the audience in his poems, speaking on behalf of everyone who is marginalised. His work is known to explore contemporary issues such as race and gender equality, providing philosophical insight and promoting change through emotive storytelling. As he told ‘Creative Talanoa’, Lesson utilises spoken and written word to empower and encourage young people to use poetry to express their thoughts. His poem ‘Please Resist Me’ is no exception. ‘Please Resist Me’ is a response to the continual marginalisation of Australia’s multicultural citizens. Discrimination is a major issue in Australia at the moment, particularly with the rising issues regarding the acceptance of immigrants into our country. The poem upholds the ideologies of the slam movement by challenging the dominant ideologies of the time through criticising societies values, beliefs and actions.

Now in a recent interview that “Please Resist Me is a response to oppression in Australia,” and that “it is a call to empowerment for those constantly bombarded by reminders in Australia that different isn’t good enough.” The poem conveys this message through a mixture of both social satire and straight up condemnation of racism. In particular, we will be playing close attention to the use of rhyme, sarcasm, alliteration, assonance and spoken performance and how they convey meaning and create mood. We will now view the poem. Please pay attention to the techniques which create rhyme and rhythm and the effect they have on the mood and tone of the poem.

Firstly, alliteration and assonance are used in the repeated lines ‘Please resist me. Colonise me compromise me conflict me. Please don’t risk me.” to create rhythm and to direct attention to particular words. By using these sounds devices to draw us in to the words “resist me, colonise me, compromise me, conflict me,” Lesson establish understanding of and highlights the way immigrants and non-white Australians are mistreated. The repetition of these words also highlights the prevalence of the discrimination in society which supports Lesson’s message that we need to bring racism to an end.

Additionally, the sparing use of rhyme places particular emphasis on the lines that do rhyme, and creates tone and mood. For example, when rhyme is introduced in the third stanza emphasis is placed on the words ‘wog’ and ‘squad’ as they evoke feelings of embarrassment, create a serious tone and contribute to the overarching message that discrimination creates separation. The use of rhyme in these lines also creates a sense of irony as the rhyming pattern makes the poem feel connected which is exactly the opposite of what is happening in society according to the message of the poem.

The use of sarcasm demonstrates the unfair insolence towards the multicultural groups in Australian society. It portrays the feelings and attitudes of the marginalised in relation to the way they are treated. When Lesson sarcastically says “resistance brings evolution and you’ve resisted me consistently I thank you for your contribution” he establishes a hostile tone towards white Australians and their discrimination against members of other cultures or ethnic backgrounds.

Lastly, Lesson’s performance effectively builds tension and creates tones which support the message of the poem. At the beginning, he speaks with a slow calm voice. As the poem goes on he picks up the pace which establishes a serious confronting tone, supporting what the poem is saying. At the end he slows down again which emphasises the last few lines, which also contain the most important message of the poem.

Overall, the poem is a call to action for the oppressed members of society to stand up to the marginalisation and bring an end to cultural separation in Australia. This message reflects the idea that poetry is a product of its period, as the subject matter challenges a contemporary issue, and reflects the values and attitudes of society today. ‘Please Resist Me’ upholds the dominant ideologies of the slam movement by questioning and defying the dominant ideologies of the period in which it was created.

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Poetry and Society. (2022, April 21). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/poetry-and-society/
“Poetry and Society.” GradesFixer, 21 Apr. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/poetry-and-society/
Poetry and Society. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/poetry-and-society/> [Accessed 1 Feb. 2023].
Poetry and Society [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 21 [cited 2023 Feb 1]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/poetry-and-society/
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