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Poets and Spoken Word Artists You Need to Know

Abandoning the functional fixedness of words is a sheer act of optimism. It is the understanding that there can be something more to a word than its own definition. We can all be more than our own definition. Poetry, written or spoken, transcends these definitive barriers words sometimes place on human understanding. And, because of this, it is in poetry that you will find the human condition most recognizable. 

Now, in no particular order: 

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1. Alysia Harris 

Alysia Harris was the spoken word artist that initially sparked my interest in poetry. How Much We Must Have Looked Like Stars to Stars is her first chapbook and won the 2015 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Contest. She is also a Ph.D. candidate in linguistics at Yale University. 


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2. Sarah Kay

Sarah Kay is the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E. and has been performing spoken word since she was fourteen years old. She has a chapbook that was published in 2014 entitled No Matter the Wreckage


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3. Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire was the Young Poet Laureate for London in 2013 – 2014 and had her poetry featured in Beyonce’s album, Lemonade. Warsan Shire’s own chapbook,Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth, was published in 2011. Shire is currently working on her first full-length poetry collection. 


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4. Aisling Fahey

At only 21, Fahey was named the 2014 – 2015 Young Poet Laureate for London. 


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5. Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson is my go-to when in transition, bus or otherwise. Gibson has six albums out on iTunes and has recently released their third chapbook called PansyGibson is a social activist who addresses social problems through their poetry. Gibson has also performed at Take Back the Night events, pride events, peace rallies, and for organizations against the occupation of Palestine, and intersectional feminist groups.


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6.  Rupi Kaur 

Rupi Kaur is a Toronto-based poet who has recently gained traction through her Instagram following. Last year she came out with her first chapbook entitled Milk and Honey. Her book addresses femininity, love, loss, and healing. 


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7. Yrsa Daley-Ward

Yyrsa Daley-Ward had her start as a writer when she was modelling in Cape Town. She published her first chapbook, bone, in 2014. 


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8. Nayyirah Waheed

Nayyirah Waheed has self-published two chapbooks since 2013 called Salt and Nejma. On December 1, 2016, Waheed and Daley-Ward will be co-releasing five new works.


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9. Savannah Brown

Savannah Brown is a twenty-year-old poet studying marketing in London. She has a large Youtube following and has recently self-published a chapbook called Graffiti (and other poems)


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10. Mary Oliver

Of course. Mary Oliver. Oliver published her first chapbook at twenty-eight and has published countless collections since. Oliver has won the National Book Award and the Pullitzer Prize. (Banyen Books has a great selection of books by Mary Oliver!)


Hope this list inspires you to check out some of these writer’s works, HCUBC! 

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