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I’ve always been a sucker for a good poem. Poets effortlessly string syllables and words together, intertwining thoughts and ideas into a seamless tapestry of emotions and passion (That’s my attempt at being a poet. How did I do?). I didn’t become obsessed with poetry until I heard it come to life. Spoken word and slam poetry are art forms in which poets perform their works with such intention and emotion that I frequently find myself in an endless YouTube hole, usually on my favorite poetry channel: Button Poetry. So, I decided to share my secret gem with the world (or the tiny percentage of the world who actually reads my articles; thanks fans). I present to you: Some of my favorite spoken word pieces.

“To This Day” by Shane Koyczan

Perhaps one of the most well-known spoken word pieces, “To This Day” delves into the world of bullying and what happens when bullied children grow up into scarred adults. With a powerful analysis of the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” “To This Day” reminds us all that words hurt and can leave scars that last a lifetime.

“When Love Arrives” by Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye

This poem adorably illustrates the beauty and awkwardness of young love from the point of view of seventh graders. As we grow older, love changes, love ends. We don’t get to choose who we love. When I first heard the duo utter the words, “Maybe love stays, maybe love can’t, maybe love shouldn’t,” I was in shock. This unique take on one of the world’s most powerful forces is definitely worth the listen.

“Lost Voices” by Darius Simpson and Scout Bostley

Addressing two marginalized groups at once, “Lost Voices” tackles the hardships of being black and being female in America. What happens when people outside of these populations try to sympathize? How can someone pretend to know a pain they will never have to feel? Darius Simpson and Scout Bostley deliver a beautiful, poignant performance that will leave you wondering how we can be better.

“OCD” by Neil Hilborn

This equally hilarious and heartbreaking piece showcases the detrimental effect that mental illness can have on relationships. Neil Hilborn describes his experience with losing the love of his life because she could not handle his obsessive-compulsive disorder. These three minutes are filled with so much raw emotion that it’s hard to watch without tearing up.

“Complainers” by Rudy Fransisco

I still remember the first time I heard this poem. I was in high school, and this three minute video changed my entire outlook on life. No, I’m not being dramatic. This humbling piece reminds us how truly lucky we are. We are still alive. Even on the worst days, we are still alive. Among the many lines that make me think twice about complaining is, “Every year, 2 million people die of dehydration, so it doesn't matter if the glass is half full or half empty, there's water in the cup, drink that sh*t and stop complaining." Powerful, right?

These five works of art barely scratch the surface of the amazing, life changing, heart-wrenching pieces you can find on Button Poetry’s YouTube page. The next time you have a free minute and want your world rocked by the artistic stylings of spoken word poetry, check these recommendations out.

Anna is currently a senior at UMKC studying Health Sciences and Public Health, with a goal of working in the nonprofit world. Anna's passion is advocating for people living with chronic illnesses through her work with the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. In her free time, Anna can be found obsessing over Panic! at the Disco and Queen while drinking coffee and watching romantic comedies or listening to podcasts.
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