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Spoken Word Poems Everyone Should Hear



November starts NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – when people who want to get their stories out but lack the motivation are inspired to write 50,000 words over the course of 30 days. Throughout the month, participants are motivated with tips to create a novel and ways to overcome writer’s block.


However, those who can’t do (@ me), watch others bring their ideas to creation.


In the age of social media poetry, especially visible on sites such as Instagram and Tumblr, spoken word poetry has risen in popularity. Defined as a word-based performance art that focuses on the aesthetics of word-play such as intonation and voice inflection, spoken word hits every emotion in the audience. Though National Poetry Month is in April, it’s never too early to find videos on Youtube that evoke emotion or prompt action.


From heavy-hitting topics like relationships and mental illness to inspiring odes of love and strength, here are some spoken word poems you should listen to:


OCD – Neil Hilborn

The most viewed video on the Button Poetry channel on Youtube and probably the first poem that comes to mind when spoken word is mentioned, this powerful story of love while living with mental illness touches everyone who listens. Neil Hilborn uses his experience with OCD to set up perfect imagery and leave his audience as heartbroken as he sounds.



When the Fat Girl Gets Skinny – Blythe Bard

A  poem about the priority of being thin and the expense of those with eating disorders, Blythe Bard uses her struggle with anorexia to call out the unspoken: “If you are thin to begin with when you get an eating disorder, you go to the hospital. If you are not thin to begin with, you are a success story.”


21 – Patrick Roche

A reflection of a boy and his relationship with his alcoholic father, Patrick Roche’s heartbreaking poem is filled with powerful one-liners. His story will resonate with you for a long time.


To the Girl Who Works At Starbucks – Rudy Francisco

A light-hearted poem about love at first sight, Rudy Francisco talks about his encounter with the barista at Starbucks. He’ll have you laughing at the awkwardness, but inspire you to order your own chai latte.


The Nineteen Text Messages To You Stuck In My Drafts Box – Brenna Twohy

Brenna Twohy’s list of drafts is both charming and passionate, delivered in such a way that you can both laugh and relate to the messages she wishes to send.


A Letter to the Girl I Used To Be – Ethan Smith

Ethan Smith uses his experience as a trans man to share a letter to Emily. A small insight into the process of transitioning, Ethan’s last line will hit you hard.


And as a bonus,

Ode to the Women on Long Island – Olivia Gatwood

Sent to me this week by a friend from home, this poem gets everything right (in my biased perspective). Olivia Gatwood nails the accent, the stereotypes, and most importantly, the strength of women in her ode.

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Lillie Renck

Notre Dame '22

A junior at Notre Dame studying Psychology and Economics, Lillie is a native Long Islander who enjoys pink drinks from Starbucks and great pictures of sunsets.
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