14 April 2015

NPME 2015: On the Path to Spoken Word

Welcome back to the 2015 National Poetry Month Extravaganza!

To celebrate National Poetry Month (in the U.S.A.), this is a weekly series on The Favourites List throughout April. Check in every Tuesday for a new post, and don't forget to use the "npme2015" tag to read up on all things poetry!

In this second instalment (which I'm thoroughly excited about, and you should be too), I'll lead you through the wonders of spoken word poetry.

Rankings /// Post 2 /// Mourning Poets /// Looking Ahead

Image via Laurelsprings.com.

I've written about spoken word before (in case you didn't know). One August post reviewed the first competition poetry slam that I ever watched, and I also started this year off right with a post that summarised my experiences with and interest in poetry. Make sure you take a look at those pages!

I knew little about spoken word before last summer. (If you don't know much either, read over its Wikipedia article.) Basically, spoken word is a genre of performance poetry -- poems that are choreographed to movements and speech, and sometimes music, to enhance the recital of poetry and make it more entertaining.

There are spoken word poems for everybody, on any topic: individuality, civil rights (feminism, racial justice, LGBT+ rights), education, daily life, mental illness, poetry itself, and just about anything else. Don't believe me? -- Click here.

My friends introduced me to spoken word in more depth, and invited me to accompany them to Brave New Voices 2014. Honestly, I didn't know eternal gratitude until I felt it toward my friends for taking me with them to watch a poetry slam.

So, looking for guidelines as to where to start? Skim through the two lists below, which I assure you were crafted with care and my own love:

Looking for Directions . . .

These are my favourite spoken word poets and organisations. All links point to YouTube videos and official websites.

1. Sarah Kay (and Phil Kaye too!)
2. Shane Koyczan (Might I recommend this piece first?)
4. Brave New Voices (associated with Youth Speaks)

What I Look For . . .

My favourite subject matter for spoken word performances, plus my two favourite lines from spoken word poems. Yay!
  • feminism (Most feminist spoken word poets get super passionate during their performances and bring up some really awesome points about gender equality, birth control, abortion, sex, stereotypes, and all the good stuff in between.)
  • mental illness (In my opinion, our society doesn't prioritise mental health enough, and people don't always treat the mentally ill with as much respect as they do the mentally healthy. To be honest, mental illness is one of those taboo topics that shouldn't be taboo -- not when it affects so many people.)
  • poetry itself (This is when the language is most descriptive, most dramatic, most vulnerable -- kind of cheesy at times, but there are metaphors everywhere. Sometimes you listen to a specific line that makes you clutch your heart or hold your forehead because it was so perfectly worded and was so deep and makes you think and it's awesome.)

1. "'Baby,' I'll tell her, 'remember, / your momma is a worrier, / and your poppa is a warrior, / and you are the girl with small hands and big eyes / who never stops asking for more'" - Sarah Kay, "If I Should Have a Daughter"
2. "Maybe you used to bring bruises and broken teeth / to show and tell but never told / because how can you hold your ground / if everyone around you wants to bury you beneath it / you have to believe that they were wrong" - Shane Koyczan, "To This Day"

That just about concludes the major list of spoken word poets whose work I love to follow.

But remember -- you can follow the 2015 National Poetry Month Extravaganza using the links below!

Where to? ¬

The journey begins here.

What do you like best about spoken word poetry? What's your favourite poem? Don't forget to add a link to a video in your comment!

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