Spoken Word is an oral art form that requires the poet/performer to read poetry aloud. This catchall phrase includes the live performance of hip-hop and jazz poetry, poetry slams, performance poetry, traditional poetry readings and can include comedy routines and prose monologues.
What elevates this form to a work of art is that a Spoken Word poem, not only requires a well constructed piece of writing, but also requires the poet to consider word interplay, intonation and inflection, and use of voice in it’s delivery. It is also common for Spoken Word to be accompanied by music, which is again, considered part of the performance itself and must be coordinated with the recitation. Like all poetry, Spoken Word is a vehicle for engagement. In this case the poet/performer uses word and voice to evoke an emotional response, and create a connection between the poem and the listener.
Spoken Word has been a fundamental practice in many cultures over thousands of years. The practice of reciting, memorizing, repeating and retelling oral histories through storytelling and monologue was common in many cultures prior to the invention of writing as a means of passing on history and tradition.
Modern Spoken Word continues to thrive after a renaissance in the 70s, and 80s, and the inception of the National Poetry Slam in the US, beginning in 1990. It is now commonly practiced in the US, UK, many part of Europe and continues to grow in Asia Pacific countries as well.
We would also like to thank Kiraya Kawesa ǀ @kirayakawesa for the use of this brilliant example of the form.
If you would like to see examples of poems written about this prompt than simply search the hashtag #wellversedink on Instagram, visit our community here, or see more in our online gallery @heartwrds.