Happy National Poetry Month! Similar to how musicians express themselves through their songs, poets use a unique, flexible and expressive medium to convey a personal message. One of my favorite types of poetry is spoken word, in which poems are performed. There is a greater emphasis on delivery, tone, inflection, and word play so spoken word poetry becomes an immersive experience. Honestly, there are spoken word poems that have changed my life. In celebration for Poetry Month, here are some of my favorite poets and their work.
Spoken word has such a range. It can be deep and profound or light-hearted and funny. In this piece by Kevin Yang, he tells a tale about a world in which there is a limited supply of Sriracha. And man, the world would most certainly go crazy if Sriracha was running out, so his account isn’t inaccurate.
There’s something very stirring about this piece by Franny Choi. She captures the righteous passion many people feel towards the inequality and injustice rampant in our society. And while it could be a criticism to be so worked up about social issues, Choi proposes that if the community, as a whole, cared sincerely about these problems, it would be beneficial.
Beau Sia is AN ICON. He hosted Kollaboration Star 2015 and man, does this guy have presence and energy. He rose in popularity during the early 2000s when he was a frequent performer on the TV program Def Poetry Jam, which featured Kanye West, Alicia Keys, and had Mos Def as the host. This was the first performance of I saw of Beau Sia and I was instantly hooked. People better get ready to embrace the Asian Invasion!
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, don’t take this poem too personally but be aware: the representation of Asian American in any form of media has been lack luster. And too often have I been in situations in which I considered dressing up as “Cho Chang” because I knew I could be easily recognized because we were both Asian. Rachel Rostad’s performance continually reignites my frustration with how Asians are portrayed and I can’t thank her enough.
Sarah Kay and Philip Kaye
These two are being put into the same section not because of the surname similarity, but because these two started Project Voice, which Franny Choi is also a part of. Project Voice is an educational program that uses spoken word poetry as way to “entertain, educate, and inspire” and they tour around America to help students cultivate creativity, self-empowerment, and compassion. Both are graduates of Brown University, both are Japanese-Jewish, and both are widely recognized poets that have touched many lives, including mine. From Sarah, I’ve become more aware of who I am as a woman, and from Phil, I’ve become more aware of my heritage and my life journey. I had a hard time picking just one performance from each of them (they even have poem collaborations), so I encourage you to look them up on Youtube. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Do you have a favorite spoken word poet? Share with us! Happy Poetry Month!