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About Spoken Word Poetry

Updated on July 30, 2014


"We're both from the same train

it's just that when we got off we dispersed

and there was this great big advert on the station that read:

'Blame others for what is wrong with this world.'"

~ Amy Naylor

What is spoken word poetry?

Well It's just as it sounds: poetry that is lifted from the page and spoken. But it's more than just spoken, it's performed. It's like poetry meets theatre. Or rap, depending on your take of the art form.

The stories that are told can be about any subject that regular poetry covers but you'll often find that it can become incredibly personal and emotional. It can also become preachy. Or it can just be plain old entertaining. There really are no limits.

Sarah Kay performing her poem 'B'
Sarah Kay performing her poem 'B'


During poetry performances the speaker will build up into a climax, practically rapping the words they speak as the subject begins to become more and more dramatic before dropping back down again.

Dynamics like this are what makes the art of performance poetry so entertaining.

It's also great to see the words acted out with hand movements, facial expressions and vocal expressions. All these things create new and deeper meaning to the poem that is being performed to create greater understanding and empathy from the listening audience.

While the form of a poem and the way it is presented on the page is as important as the words themselves, so is the way they are performed in the case of spoken word.

This is the first I saw of Spoken Word and I was hooked.


There are often competitions held in relation to spoken word poetry in which many poets take their turns to speak during different stages.

These performances are great because they become truly interactive with the audience who yell and clap and jeer in response to the words being told. As things become more dramatic within the poem the noise levels rise, making the whole poetry experience even more exciting.

There is so much emotion being sparked in a room full of people who all share the same understanding.

An example from a poetry slam


Writing poetry is a great way of understanding yourself and your own emotions. But performing poetry is an even more effective way of releasing those emotions and connecting with an audience of people who may feel the same way, have felt the same way, or will take influence from your words.

It is incredibly scary at first, especially if you are performing something that is close to heart, because it creates an honesty that leads to vulnerability. But this in itself can be very empowering.


Poetry doesn't just have to be performed at slams, clubs or open mics.

The internet holds a huge and incredible platform for poetry performance and it means that the audience really isn't limited. Anyone from around the world can view, enjoy and relate to the poem being told.

YouTube is growing as a popular platform for poetry. If you have a little explore yourself, there is so much that you can find.

From every age, gender, background ect. There is so much out there.

The single most emotional performance I have encountered so far

Have you ever attended a poetry slam or spoken word performance?

See results


"If anybody says anything different

They're accused of being naive.

But I could say the same about you

For believing what you read."

~ Amy Naylor


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    • Amy Naylor profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy Naylor 

      4 years ago from England

      Sounds great Catherine, I'd love to take part some day. Congratulations on 3rd place!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      4 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I did my first slam recently, by accident. I was in the audience and the organizer said he needed more people to participate. I agreed. Then more people entered so I could have dropped out, but I decided to do it. I came in 3rd. Your description of slam poetry is right on. It's rap without the music.

    • Amy Naylor profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy Naylor 

      4 years ago from England

      I'm slowly trying to build up the courage to do it.... You're just so vulnerable opening up on stage like that though!

      You're very welcome, thank you too! :)

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Nice! I could never , for one , do a poetry slam ! To private an individual I guess . But I admire those who do ! Thank you for the follow and the share !.......Ed

    • Amy Naylor profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy Naylor 

      4 years ago from England

      Thank you very much!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      4 years ago from Wales

      A great hub Ann and now looking forward to many more.


    • Amy Naylor profile imageAUTHOR

      Amy Naylor 

      4 years ago from England

      I'm thinking of trying to start up something similar in my home town. We have a group who write and read at the local gallery, but it's not as accessible to the public as I'd like it to be. We need an open mic in the cafe. Thanks for the comment!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Loved the takes me back to the 50s and 60s and the coffee shop poets....thanks for the memories.


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