One of my favorite things in the world is spoken-word poetry. I’ve never seen anything else that can take words and spin them to be so inspiring and creative, not to mention heart wrenching and captivating. One of the greatest things about this form of poetry is that you get to see people stand before you and pour themselves out. The courage that it takes to do this is tremendous; just take it from me, I’ve performed in front of crowds before.
Don’t get me wrong; all forms of poetry amaze me. Having the ability to write your thoughts, feelings, and ideas down so that people can read them is amazing. But being able to speak them out loud in front of people just fascinates me.
But the greatest thing that I’ve learned from doing any form of poetry, especially the spoken-word, is that courage is something that you have to fuel yourself. You have to step out of your comfort zone and do the things that you never thought you could do. Only then can you learn about yourself and how your seams are stitched together the way that they are. You learn so much about the things that you’re passionate about, the things that you want to learn, and the experiences you’ve had (and how they’ve allowed you to grow).
One of the things that I want to talk about is how it fosters the discussion of ideas and characteristics in the human race. I cannot tell you the amount of people who have come up to me after performing a piece and have asked me what motivated me to write it or what gave me the idea to piece it together. I’ve even gotten feedback, both positive and negative, on how people feel about the work that I’ve done. I think it’s great- I want people to tell me what kind of feelings they’ve had about things that I’ve written. If you give people something to talk about, you’re giving people a chance to take part in a unique learning atmosphere that you can’t get from sitting inside of the classroom.
Advice to Start Writing and Performing
The first thing that I ask people when they ask me how I started writing and performing is whether or not they write already. The usual response is “no”. I then tell them about the different levels of the process:
Beginning to write
The single best idea for being able to begin writing and performing is to START WRITING. Here are a few tips for that:
- Get out a pad of paper and a pen and just start writing down the thoughts that you have in that moment. Don’t use a pencil– being able to erase things isn’t a great way to cultivate your writing.
- Go sit outside and write things down. Write down what you see or hear– anything that appeals to your senses. I write about the things that I hear and what the air tastes like. That usually gives me a lot to write about, and it gives me a great transition into the rest of my surroundings.
- Clear your head. There are many things that I can tell you for this one, but the key is finding what works best for you. Maybe the quiet allows you to clear your head. Or soft music. Whatever it is, find it out. It’ll give you a better chance to begin writing about a topic.
- Do things that you don’t normally do in your daily routine. Breaking the mold on things that are familiar to you gives you a little bit of excitement in your day; something you’ll be able to write about!
- Have someone close to you read your writing. Ask them for honest feedback. You want to hear the truth in your writing.
Beginning to perform your writing in front of people
- As soon as you get comfortable with your writing, ask someone close to you to read it and give you honest feedback. You want them to tell you honestly how it made them feel because it’ll drive you to write better.
- Start off small. Recite your words in front of a small group of people that you know and see how they react.
- Go to the middle. Do the same thing as the last step except do it in front of people that you don’t know as well.
- Go big. My school has an Open Mic night every week where you can freely go up and perform anything that you want. If you can find something like this around you, I highly encourage you to go to it and perform. Only them can you tell what you’ve got and how people feel about your stuff.
- Always ask for feedback. This is so important because you want people to give you their thoughts on your work.
My Favorite Poets
I’d like to share with you a few of my favorite spoken-word poets. They’re all amazing writers and started out doing a lot of what I listed above. Who knows, maybe you could get that way too one day:
They all have a different style- some with music in the background, some without. But no matter what style, they all are doing the same things: saying things from their heart.
If you watched all of those spoken word poetry videos, tell me how you feel in the comment section below.