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Spoken Word Poetry: How to Perform It in 5 Easy Tips

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



Spoken word poetry gives a written poem life through stage performance. Dramatic staging may elevate even the most unremarkable poems. Spoken word poets employ body language, gestures, diction, accent, and tone to tell a tale. a general term for poetry written with performance in mind. Even though certain spoken word poems are sometimes printed on the page, the genre's origins are in oral customs and public performances. Rap, hip-hop, narrative, drama, jazz, blues, and folk music can all be used into spoken word performances. Spoken word poetry usually discuss problems of social justice, politics, racism, and community. They are characterized by rhyme, repetition, improvisation, and word play.


Speaking has been a form of communication for a very long time. Long before writing was invented, each language used its sound structure to create auditory patterns that set spoken poetry apart from other speech and made it simpler to memorize. "Poets existed long before printing presses; poetry is fundamentally an oral expression meant to be heard orally."

Spoken word poetry is a kind of Anglo-American poetry meant for public performance. This seemingly simple English term is difficult to define or even translate, as it can be understood two ways: broadly, as spoken poetry in general, which would include performative, experimental, and jazz poetry, but also perhaps primarily – hip hop; and narrowly, as a contemporary poetry subgenre of American provenance, closely linked to poetry slams–poetry performed for an audience, usually without accessories, music, or props.

Since the 1980s, spoken word poetry has gained popularity in the West, but it's still relatively obscure in some countries. Curiously, spoken word's popularity hasn't led to more academic research. As I'll explain later, spoken word poetry is egalitarian, democratic, anti-academic, if not anti-intellectual, and a pop culture, if not mass culture, phenomena. Polish poets haven't tackled spoken word poetry in its modern sense.

Tips for Performing Spoken Word Poetry

These suggestions will help spoken word beginners improve.
If you're a seasoned slam poet trying to better your game, these ideas should help.

Say your words and lines with confidence.

Nothing turns off your audience than seeing you as a frightened performer. Don't be frightened when speaking your spoken-word poem.
Slam poetry is a way to share topics you wouldn't ordinarily discuss.
It's a chance to tackle unpleasant themes and express pent-up emotions and thoughts.
Say your piece with belief in your heart and mind. If your message is clear, succinct, and strong, you don't need to fear.
You may back your opinions with real-life examples, and whether the audience agrees or not, you're utilizing spoken word as meant - in their face. In case you need help developing confidence, check this out.

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Practice several times.

The old adage that says, "Correct practice makes perfect," is still applicable to this. Once your slam poetry is complete, learn it better than you know your own name.
Though practicing requires time and is difficult, however, it is sure to help.
Work on enunciation and intonation once you've remembered it. Voice, loudness, and eye movement bring words to life.
If you want to impress your audience and yourself, be prepared. Professionalize. You're unbeatable because you own your game. That comes from hundreds of rehearsals.

Memorize your piece by heart.

If you've ever attended a poetry slam, you've probably observed that the best poets don't use paper. They don't read a page shakily; they own it.
It's memorized and sounds natural. They're passionately telling a narrative they know by heart. Memorizing spoken word is difficult yet crucial. You must know it by heart, not just pretend you do. When you're the centerpiece, nerves will take control, so that poetry better be native —you should be able to repeat it backwards in your sleep.
Each slam poetry is memorized line-by-line and verse-by-verse.
You may isolate a line or two on a note card. Read it slowly, slowly, and aloud.
Record so you know when to halt and slow down.
Your mind progressively begins to identify how one line ends and the next begins.
Once you start putting lines together, keep doing it day and night in front of a mirror.
When you're almost done, bring a few friends or family members together and try to remember everything. That will show you where to improve.
Memorizing your poetry frees you to move, utilize your hands, and use the stage as your playground.


Make sure your voice is audible.

Poetry, like music, uses euphony or onomatopoeia, words that resemble sound, to appeal to the ear. Isak Dinesen says "Speak again, Speak like rain," supporting T. S. Eliot's observation that "poetry remains one person talking to another."
In oral civilizations, proverbs sometimes called adage, are used to express simple ideas and cultural attitudes. "The hearing knowledge we bring to poetry is a speaking pattern we've heard from childhood.
Performance poetry, like performance art, is written to be spoken aloud and shuns writing. Thus, see to it that your voice as the speaker, is heard by even the last person at the back seats of the performance area.

Deliver your poem sincerely.

Poetry is about emotions. It is an outburst of the poet's emotion about how he feels on the topic or theme he writes. You must first of all be convinced about your poem before you can convince your audience. Deliver it then with all sincerity in your heart.

Then, from your heart, support it with your facial expressions, hand gestures, and body movements that highlight and enhance the various performance aspects of your poem. Use clear enunciation. This means that, what your are saying can be understood by the audience. Your words are stated clearly and appropriately.

Suggested Criteria for Judging a Contest on Spoken Word Poetry

Whenever Spoken Word Poetry is held in events as a contest, I notice that many times the judges or those assigned to judge the competition, have difficulty making the criteria for which to base their judgment. Thus, I have created the following suggested criteria to guide and help them. I hope this would lighten their load and aid them.

Content/Message 40%
The spoken piece's content relates to the given theme.
The audience will receive a strong and important message from the work.
Delivery & Performance 30%
The spoken word is heartfelt and sincere.
facial expressions, hand gestures, and body movements highlight the various performance aspects
Clear enunciation is used. What is being said can be understood by the audience.
Words are stated clearly and appropriately.
Originality 15%
The entry must have been written by the contestants and the articles are entirely their own.
Overall Impact 15%
The performer's outward appearance, speech and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, showing that they understand the material all look on point and work together to give the piece life.
The extent to which the performance has succeeded overall and is more than the sum of its parts.

© 2022 Ruby Campos

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