Slamming against the current
It is probably impossible to find a young person today who has never heard of slam poetry, but in case somebody needs a quick reminder, it is the mastering of MC-ing, the process in which everyday life becomes poetry. The participants have 3 minutes to put everyday topics that everybody can relate to into rhymes as that is the timeframe in which the audience and jury has to be convinced by the performer that they deserve the winning title (this is where the name derives from: the word ’slam’ means harsh judgement). What’s more, the audience does not only listen and giggle in a well-behaved manner in the way they would do at a poetry recital, but comments, claps and expresses their approval – or disapproval. Here everything is allowed, it is exactly freedom that keeps these events going. In a lot of cases, there is music accompanying the performances, here, in the Palya yard, it was the Amoeba group that provided the music, but only the kind that the performer requested and only when the performers requested.
In the Valley or Arts, the performers were Márk Saiid Süveg, Péter Závada, Márton Simon, István Csider and István Pion. All of them are writers, poets or musicians, which means that they are all professionals. Their presence turned the night into a chilled literature class that most probably not many of the audience had had the opportunity of taking part in before. These young people give life to literature and prove that poets do not have to be dead to be loved and read. As Márton Simon put it into rhymes during the night: „I am a poet, but really, a traditional poet/my kind, if he dies unknown, is successful./At least, this is what most of them say./ (...) I want to be the one who stirs (...)/ the poet who is unable to rap, /is like a bird that is unable to fly.” During the night, the fact that we were participating in a literature class was proved several time and there were lots of references to poets and writers, live and dead alike and to their works: „This contains traces of Péter Esterházy” – confessed Péter Závada in one of his poems.
Slam poetry does not refrain from engaging in politics, it does not matter which side, if the performers don’t like something, they are sure to talk about it. István Csider and István Pion read out their poem that they had performed on 15th March, which was given the title The Report of Csion’s Wise through the bringing together of their names. A short quote from the poem follows: „Csider: Because for me the Hungarian is Tamás Cseh,/ pieces of tobacco in the pocket./And I cannot reach there without some/of it going under my nails/ Together: not even by accident/ Csider: For me the Hungarian means order./ Or that order is desired./ That if it is up,/ it would like to be down./ For me the Hungarian is the Transylvanian count,/ the Cumanian peasant, the Slovakian buddies/ and the gentry from Pest. And everybody./For me the Hungarian is you,/Pion: and them, / Together: and me.
Márk Saiid Süveg even performed his poem from kindergarten, which evoked lots of laughter among the audience with these lines: „I have no idea what can be the problem with the son of poor Mr Kovács,/ I reckon it’s a hyperkinethetic concentration disorder./ When they are young, they are naughty, when they are adults, they are even more naughty/ Here, in the kindergarten, we have no idea why the adults are so grey.” István Csider and Márton Simon performed their own reinterpretations of Attila József’s poem, For my Birthday, which were received with a loud ovation.
The whole event was characterised by cheerfulness, everybody left satisfied from the rapper to the literature expert, from the housewife to the artist, because there were everything that one needs: love, youth and entertainment. Us, the audience also became a bit rebellious, rebelling against the system irrelevant of our wills. These five young people washed everything away like an uncontrollable river and we went with them a little, like the naughty driftwood, slamming against the current.
Written by Gergely Rácz
Translated by Judit Molnár