What is Spoken Word Poetry?

Skylar Fincher-Butler, Reporter

What is spoken word poetry?


Spoken word poetry is poetry as a performance. One or more individuals recite poems, inflecting emotion and feelings onto certain words to give them a more powerful delivery.


It is similar to storytelling but in a more musical way. The lines of the poem have a flow that the speaker sets and they read the lines with rhythm and/or rhyme.


How is it different than regular poetry? 


The only difference that the two have is that poetry is written for the page while spoken word is meant to be performed. 


This gives the author the opportunity to present their work in the way it was meant to be heard. The listener(s) will understand exactly what the speaker means. 


Spoken word poetry is a great way for individuals to voice their opinions on social issues, problems in a community, and stereotypical identities. 


Five female artists that are widely known and successful in this area of literature are Olivia Gatwood, Sarah Kay, Megan Falley, Andrea Gibson, and Melissa Lozada-Olivia. 


Olivia Gatwood is a poet, educator, and writer. The majority of her pieces are on topics such as coming of age, feminism, gendered violence, and true crime. “When I Say That We Are All Teenage Girls” is one of her most known poems. 


Sarah Kay is a poet who is also the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E (Voters Organization Involved in Children’s Education), a group that uses spoken word poetry for education and inspiration. Her most well-known poem is “If I Should Have a Daughter…”.


Megan Falley is a poet whose work is primarily on feminism and the LGBTQ+ community. She does both slam and spoken word poetry. One of her most popular poems is “Coming Out (And Being Pushed Backed In)”.


Slam poetry is similar to spoken word poetry because they are both performed. Slam poetry is competitive.


Andrea Gibson is a poet and activist whose writing is focused on gender norms, politics, social reform, and LGBTQ+ topics. A popular poem by her is “First Love”. 


Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a poet and educator who has come out with two books and is currently planning another. “Giving Back” is one of her most popular poems. 


All five of these female writers are revolutionary for their time since they use spoken word poetry as an opportunity to use their voice and spread awareness on social and cultural issues they feel society needs to recognize.