Spoken word is an incredible art, combining poetic verse and performance in a gutsy display of intelligence and emotion. It takes a true artist to stand behind a microphone and move an entire room with imaginative word choice and a punch-you-in-the-gut-powerful delivery.
From the article "Spoken Word Poetry: Hold Onto that History" from the Black Youth Project website:
"Visceral, in your face, in your ears, in your snapping fingers, and tapping feet, spoken word poetry sprang loosely from the expressive energies of the blues, the Harlem Renaissance, and hip-hop music which had each permeated black communities throughout America over the course of the century. Mimicking the 1960s beat poets of coffee houses and oral, interactive, live art, spoken word and slam poetry emerged in the 1990s, more diverse and less agenda-driven."
Written poetry has a history of being stuffy, inaccessible to the masses, and mostly created by old white men. What was considered good poetry was mostly reserved for the social elite. Needless to say, marginalized populations were not considered a part this elite throughout history, and even still today. Through its free-flowing structure, oral delivery, and usage of casual language often mixed with slang, spoken word defies this hierarchy by challenging the idea of who can be the creator and consumer of this art. It is designed to be a communal experience, as the artists use their words to fill the air with passionate emotion shared by everyone in the space.
Here are some powerful writers and performers to inspire you today. Be sure to visit their YouTube pages (or to just search their names) to find more of their work. Every one of these performers is not only prolific, but incredibly profound.
"Dear Straight People"
"When the Bough Breaks"
"Fuck I look like" [NSFW]
"All Oppression is Connected" [NSFW]
"My First Period" [poem starts at 1:58, NSFW]
Videos via YouTube. All content of videos are property of the artists.