What to Know About Argentina's Underground Poetry Scene

Slam the audience with your killer words at a poetry event | © Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung/Flickr
Slam the audience with your killer words at a poetry event | © Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung/Flickr
Given Argentina’s rich literary history, it is perhaps no surprise that it has a thriving poetry scene. While it may lurk in cultural centres across the city as opposed to the main stages at festivals, Buenos Aires’ underground poetry culture is alive and well. Here is everything you need to know about Argentina’s underground poetry scene.

A poetry event can take many forms. Sometimes poets are invited, sometimes they show up and put their names on a list to read, some come with music, others just with their voices, some rap, some act, but everyone who participates in a poetry event is there to celebrate the spoken word in all its glory.

Weigh in against the competition in a poetry slam © Very Quiet/Flickr

Poetry slams are a stalwart of any poetry scene. A poetry slam is essentially a poetry competition, with participants being judged by audience members on their literary skill, lyrical prowess and general poetic badassery. Justa Poetica is just one poetry slam held in the city, which is open invite for the first three of the 16 slams that are broken down into four rounds of four, after which the winning poets from each round form a team to compete in other poetry slams. Slam Zona Sur is another one of the city’s slams, held in the southern suburb of Banfield. The organizer was inspired to host a poetry event after witnessing a slam at a literary festival, and Slam Zona Sur has now been going strong for three years.

Let it all out at a poetry open mic © macronix/Flickr

Poetry open mic nights are another form of poetry event, but without the stiff competition of the slam. Similar to music open mic nights, there is often a sign-up before or at the beginning of the event, and poets can bring their lyrical stylings, whether it be reading their poetry from a notebook or smartphone, or with musical accompaniment, or singing a written piece. MAPPA is one of the city’s premier poetry open mic nights encouraging performance, something that is expanding all the time in the poetry world. Noche Equis also offers an open mic night providing a platform for novice poets or songwriters who may feel intimidated by slams or more established poetry events with experienced poets. They endeavor to create a culture of community and act as an open and safe space for artists to explore their creative development.

A niche is also being carved out for feminist and LGBTQ poetry events, with Fanatica de los Boliches taking place as part of the Fiesta Jolie. Audience members can participate by constructing a poem using words taken from a hat that is passed around. Boca de Buzon is a female-led poetry and song event held in the quirky LGBTQ haunt of Casa Brandon. The two organizers are artists in their own right, one a singer and the other a stand up comedian, the perfect recipe for some serious lyrical banter.