10 Best Slam Poems for Middle School Students

Slam Poetry Middle School

Earlier this month, I wrote 10 Best Slam Poems for High School -- a list of poems hitting on a few tough but relevant topics for today's classrooms. I didn't want to leave our younger secondary students out though, so I've included this list of slam poems for middle schools. 

While these poems aren't overly happy and benign, they don't have any expletives and the issues they address are little more relevant to the average middle schooler.

I don't know about your state, but in mine, testing is in full swing, so both teachers and students need a distraction, some relief from the stress. So before you step into your classroom tomorrow, listen to Episode #010 of the RTE Podcast: "Fostering Student-Led Discussions with the TQE Method." Then just let your students talk and write about the poem. Encourage them to write their own poems. Develop a prompt and then ask them to quickwrite whatever comes to mind in five minutes. Then turn that into a poem -- even a list poem.

Then listen to the poems below for inspiration.

U.S. Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman performed "The Hill We Climb" on national TV at the 2021 Inauguration, which makes it perfect to show our middle school students.

Olivia Vella shares "Why Am I Not Good Enough?" with her seventh grade writing class in a video that went viral. Read the story behind the stream-of-consciousness poem on middle school insecurities.

"If I Have a Daughter" by Sarah Kay lightheartedly examines her relationship with her own mother and society while also planning the future of her own daughter. 

"Ode to Thrift Stores" by Ariana Brown examines her experience shopping in thrift stores and how it differs from our society's views of being poor.

Do you have young students struggling to create art, but aren't confident in their capabilities yet. This poem by Ira Glass, "On the Creative Process" sheds light on how the creative process works and why we should be gracious with ourselves through the learning process.

Sabrina Benaim shares a metaphor-laden conversation "Explaining My Depression to My Mother" that will resonate with teenagers still experiencing the effects of our digital society and the pandemic.

In "Why I Hate School but Love Education" is where Suli Breaks takes a hard look at what our school systems actually provides. Breaks states, "If you don't build your dream someone else will hire you to build theirs."

Rudy Francisco's "My Honest Poem" will resonate with your awkward middle schools who are still growing into their bodies and trying to figure out who they are.

In this letter to her mother, "Explaining My Depression to My Mother," Sabrina Benaim explains in metaphorical terms her anxiety and depression.

"Reimagine, Recreate, Restore – World Environment Day Poem" by Jordan Sanchez shows students how they can use poetry to persuade.

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

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