If you aren’t familiar with spoken word poetry, now is the time to let go of all preconceived notions you might have gathered up to this point regarding the subject. If upon hearing the phrase “spoken word poetry,” you immediately start thinking of ancient Greeks with lyres reciting odes, you are wrong. If you are thinking of overly lyrical, flowery, fussy poems that your grandmother would enjoy, you are wrong. If you are thinking of a crowd of hipsters, snapping their fingers to concepts the normal person could never even begin to understand, you are mostly wrong.
They really do snap.
Contrary to my own initial belief, spoken word poetry isn’t stuffy, too abstract, pretentious, or anything like that, and while I wouldn’t be quick to show my grandma these next five artists, I will show you.
1. Andrea Gibson – “For Eli”
Right off the bat, we are starting with my personal favorite poet. Her poem, “For Eli,” discusses the impact war has on young soldiers and will leave you shaking.
2. Saul Williams – “Telegram”
An irrefutable kind of spoken word, Saul Williams’ “Telegram” put to hip-hop hits hard.
3. Sarah Kay – “If I should have a daughter”
At 24 years old, Sarah Kay is up on stage speaking for every one of us. You might have already heard the lines from this poem, “Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.”
4. Jared Singer – “Beer”
If you haven’t lost your preconceived notion of a tiny little girl reciting love ballads, let Jared Singer help you.
5. Falu – “10 Things I Want to Say to a Black Man”
Her voice, her smile, and her words will make you want to sit beneath her feet and just listen.
Kanye West – “Self-Conscious”
Before he was donning kilts and offending Taylor Swift fans, he was writing some damn good spoken word poetry. Who knew?
Photo Credit: 1