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My Path to Spoken Word Poetry

If you told me two years ago that I would have the courage to perform my own original spoken word pieces to hundreds of people, I would’ve probably responded with an unamused “Really?” Here’s the truth: I used to be very reserved, never wanting to put myself under a microscope of scrutiny. But I wanted so much to break that shell, my shell. That’s why during my senior year of high school, I decided to take up a new hobby – spoken word poetry. For those who don’t know, spoken word is a rhythmic and vocal type of poetry in which poets recite their own original works to their audiences. They portray their emotions vividly through body gestures and facial expressions, as they discuss a range of topics such as love, sorrow, or hope.

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This is how a typical spoken word artist performs.

My journey began when I took a creative writing class in which the first genre of writing that I learned was poetry. I loved deciphering the meaning behind poems by famous writers such as Robert Frost and Walt Whitman. However, reading these poems seemed a little incomplete to me. I’ve always pondered if the students of today were really interpreting these pieces as they were meant to be delivered. I thought, “If we had the privilege to actually see and hear Frost and Whitman perform their poems for a live audience, would we interpret these pieces any differently?” I’m an audiovisual person, and so I began wondering if there was an art that catered to my needs.

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A snapshot from one of my performances!

It was when I completed my first homework assignment – to perform an original poem – that I discovered spoken word. One of my classmates, upon hearing me perform a little piece that I scribbled down quickly in my notebook, asked me, “Hey, have you ever heard of spoken word?” I hadn’t, but I was intrigued. As soon as I got home, I started binge-watching YouTube videos of popular slam poets ranging from Joshua Bennett to Rudy Francisco. Not even an hour passed by that I was utterly enthralled. I was so engaged by these poets and how they were able to captivate their audiences with their words and their gestures. The way that they enunciated their syllables and layered their verses with emotion just got me hooked. I decided to try my hand at it.

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“Tamara’s Opus” by Joshua Bennett is my favorite spoken word piece ever.

 

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Rudy Francisco’s “Love Poem Medley” is a must-see.

It’s been two years since I premiered my first spoken word piece, and I can confidently say that spoken word has been my utmost creative outlet. I’ve always loved writing, and it’s so refreshing to have a passion that allows me to pen my thoughts down and share them to the world. Since October 30, 2011, I’ve authored and performed four of my own pieces, which covers topics such as introversion, jealousy, and hope. However, spoken word hasn’t just been a hobby for my own personal entertainment. It’s given me a life transformation. Spoken word broke me out of my shell. I feel so comfortable talking to people now – not just on a stage, but also on a casual level. As a business/accounting student, the skill of interacting and networking with people is so vital because it determines how much of a lasting impression one can make with others. When I go to social and professional functions, I can easily approach someone and strike up a conversation. To be able to connect with that person stems from my experience of connecting with a vast audience through my spoken word pieces. I owe it to spoken word for giving me the confidence to open up to people. I’m forever grateful, and this passion of mine will always be a part of my life.

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Posted on November 9, 2013 by Brendan

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