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Spoken Word Poetry

Ruby writes from the Philippines. She teaches college courses including Speech and Theater Arts, etc. She enjoys reading and gardening.


Spoken word poetry: what is it?

Spoken word is an oral poetic performance art centered on the poem and performer's aesthetics. It's a late-20th-century continuation of an ancient oral art form that relies on recitation and word play, such as live intonation and vocal modulation. Speaking their opinions aloud to a live audience while concentrating on presentation and sound, presenters in spoken word poetry engage in forceful self-expression. Memorization, expressive body language (such as gestures and facial expressions), enunciation, and eye contact with the audience are all necessary for spoken word presentations.

Although spoken word poetry can contain rhymes, it is not required for it to do so in order to underline an image or give it a lyrical aspect. Some literary components may occasionally be used into spoken word poems to improve the rhythmic presentation.

1. Decide on a subject that interests you.

Before you even begin writing, make sure the topic you're handling is something you feel passionately about or can produce a lot of emotions toward since spoken word performances are intensely emotional. Although spoken word poetry can cover a wide range of subjects, they often have a primary theme. The discussion of "family," for instance, can focus on your grandmother's influence, your strong relationship with a cousin, or how your favorite instructor came to serve as a father figure to you. The subject matter of spoken word poetry can also include life events, such as growing up in a dysfunctional family, or it might address an introspective issue, such as "What are you most scared of?" It can be a fresh viewpoint on social justice, your first heartbreak, or a memory that has stuck with you through the years.

2. Put an emphasis on the senses.

Spoken word is about emotion. Writing vividly is the finest approach to immerse the readers in the situation that you are creating for them vocally. Use literary techniques like metaphors or similes to generate analogies. Throughout the entire article, write what you want the audience to be hearing, experiencing, tasting, and smelling. You're attempting to draw people into your world, even only briefly, rather than merely memorizing a poem to recite out. When composing performance poetry, vivid descriptions will help you generate powerful, unforgettable imagery.


3. Develop a sense of unity.

The gateway line serves a similar purpose to the thesis statement of a poem; it informs the reader of the topic that will be the focus of the poem. The rest of the poem should focus on confirming, supporting, and building on the initial thought presented in the opening line of the poem.

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Your poem needs to tell a tale. Although it should not be narrative, the poetry should be told so that the reader may get the broad picture. Simply because something is spoken word, with character and emotional expression, doesn't mean it shouldn't be making a point. Try to use a story arc to convey your point as you write. Describe what happened to the audience in rich detail, but do so fluidly.

4. Ensure that it has a pleasant sound.

Spoken word is designed to be read aloud and or memorized, therefore how it sounds is as essential as the words themselves. Onomatopoeia (using words that imitate sounds), alliteration (using the same consonant at the beginning of each word), assonance (repeating similar vowels in successive words), rhyming (correspondence in the final sounds of two or more lines), and repetition can affect the feel of your writing and the sound of your words when spoken. Repetition of words and lines helps the performer convey the poem's theme. As you write, read aloud to hear how it sounds. It should inspire. When you talk, your body and soul should experience it.

5. Practice your intonation and pace.

Pacing and tone are abilities that must be repeatedly exercised to become natural. Even if you never plan to perform the work, you should speak your writing aloud each time to get a feel for how it will sound. What feelings are you attempting to communicate? How quickly should you speak?
Should you be gentle and sincere or stern and angry? Should you speak quickly in order to convey the urgency of the words, or should you speak slowly and pause frequently? To become proficient in these takes time. Only when you speak something into reality will you know if it seems correct.


6. Employ wordplay and repetition.

Repeating specific sentences or words might help your audience understand a picture or concept better. Repeated phrases are powerful memory triggers that help people recall specific images because they stick in their minds. Additionally, wordplay is frequently employed to create a brilliant concoction of images, emotions, and sounds for the viewers and listeners. Your poetry may seem more sophisticated or imaginative if you incorporate any of this into your writing.

7. Intensify your most important points.

An effective line is one that your audience remembers long after you have read your poetry.
The key message should be emphasized, and the time you want the audience to feel most strongly should be used. The point should be hammered home repeatedly throughout the composition, especially as you approach the poem's finale. Your poem's final line should unquestionably be a power line.
The final line should leave a lasting impression on the audience and cause them to pause and consider your message long after the poem has ended. A prime example of this is Nora Cooper's I Won't Write Your Obituary (EXPLICIT LANGUAGE). This poem's final line condenses all of its themes into one sentence and leaves you feeling its uncontrolled, unadulterated intensity.

What If? Watch this sample "Spoken Word Poetry"

© 2022 Ruby Campos

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