Long ago poetry was never written down, poems were composed, memorised, and performed, and heard orally. Poetry read aloud, experienced, and performed, as the umbrella-genre of Spoken Word, is really more a returning to the genre’s roots than an innovation.
Poetry and other literature connect us to one another. Spoken-word poems are a great vehicle for testimony, as marginalised voices rise up to share their truths, as all people dig into the recesses of their minds to identify what they may not have shared out before.
When I first heard a spoken word poem I was absolutely amazed at the power behind that persons’ words and I started being fascinated by the idea of spoken-word poetry. I felt that my secret loves, poetry and performance, had come together and had a baby. A baby that I needed to get to know.
So I decided to give it a try. My first spoken-word poem, packed with all the wisdom of an 11-year-old, was about the environment, climate change, and what we needed to do to change it. I showed it to my Mum and she helped me edit it and fix my spelling mistakes; then Permayouth started doing monthly global festivals. They were asking people to show videos, do a presentation, or perform something. I hesitantly put my hand up and performed my first poem at the Global Permayouth Festival. And lightning struck, I was hooked.
Everybody seemed to love what I had said and resonated with it immediately. That gave me the confidence to write another poem and another and another until I had formed a YouTube Channel (Wildling Slam Poems) and was writing a different poem for every Global Permayouth Festival.
After that first performance, I went onto YouTube and soaked up every ounce of spoken-word that I could. And on YouTube, I learned that spoken-word poetry could be fun or painful or serious or silly. YouTube became my poetry classroom, my second home, and the poets that performed encouraged me to share my stories as well. Never mind that I was 11, I just wanted my voice to be heard.
Recently I shared my love of performing by offering a Permayouth Workshop on spoken-word poetry. This workshop was the first of its kind for Permayouth and was so successful that I would love to do one again.
What did we learn from the experience? We learnt the deepest value comes from giving voice to the unvoiced. Spoken-word poetry asks us to take something confessional, personal, or something about which we are passionate and set it free in the most direct terms.
The participants of the workshop learnt to get in touch with their emotions, passions, fears, and opinions. To practice public speaking (perhaps the most immediate, personal form of publications), to engage in political or social discourse, contributing to the essential societal conversations about justice, identity, and other issues, and to exercise writing skills of versification, metaphor, rhythm, sound devices, imagery, anecdote, repetition, and so much more.
At the heart of good fiction and good poetry, I believe, is a voicing of something otherwise unsaid. I loved the workshop, the immediacy of the sharing, the palpable feeling, the righteousness, the courage, passion, and talent of all who attended.
– By Eve Ballard