11 Powerful Tips
Producing Spoken Word
by SM CADMAN
Quick History and Information About Spoken Word:
It’s an oral art that includes any type of poetry recited aloud. From hip-hop and to a lesser extent even rap; jazz and beat poetry, poetry slams, traditional poetry readings, comedy routines and “prose monologues”.1 (Wikipedia.org) Because poetry is typically about aural patterns and sound structure, poets and poetry have always existed as both a form of communication and art. Many societies, including Native American and Indigenous cultures, primarily only used oral forms such as storytelling and poetry to record their history and pass it on to future generations. Spoken Word can also be understood in a similar way too.
Even in ancient Greece, Spoken Word was considered the best and most trusted archive of cultural history, and a way of thinking too. Flash forward to the Modern Era, we see artists doing exactly the same thing. From the early days of beat poetry with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg to Mary Lambert and Macklemore, Spoken Word is still being used today to relay powerful and passionate jam packed messages to people.
Problem With What’s Taught In School – Spoken Word by Fong Tran
- Spoken Word is, alive. Sounds weird, right? But if you consider the best of it out there, it’s always about the performance, the presentation.
- Study other performers with how they deliver Spoken Word. Take keen notice of the rhythm, repetition and poetic devices they use to speak about the subject matter they’re presenting. Remember to also take note of where and when they breathe too. Even their physical presence.
- Choose a subject matter that’s passionate and important to you. Doesn’t matter if it’s about bubble gum or world affairs, it should be powerful and remember to do it with a passionate attitude.
How to Write and Perform Spoken Word – Khalil Smith
- Seek out and make connections in your community with other Spoken Word artists. Attend events, familiarize yourself with the, “lay of the land”. Find a place, group you feel comfortable with and just go for it. Can’t find a group? Be brave. Start your own. After all, this is exactly what Spoken Word is about, bravado
- Community is important to the art of Spoken Word so connect with as many different types of poets, even artists and musicians as you can find. Seek out inspiration from them. And never be afraid to ask lots of questions about them and their art. Most are very receptive to newcomers and sharing their experiences and knowledge with you. Be thankful.
- Memorize and practice what you will present. Also remember if you’re tripping over words and ideas, it most likely isn’t the right fit for you or your poetry.
- Develop a unique performance style. Don’t just copy other performers and performances, find your voice and what works best for you and use it to the best of your ability.
- Rehearse and perform as much as possible to get it just right. This means taking calculated risks that will ultimately improve both your Spoken Word and your presentation skills.
- Don’t worry about mistakes you make or how the audience will react. Appreciate your audience and take note what works and what doesn’t.
- Never apologize or feel the need to explain your subject matter. Especially if it’s about a weighty issue. This isn’t about censorship, it’s the exact opposite of it. Be yourself.
- Never take it too seriously. Made a mistake? Move on. Keep going. Work with it.
You can see my short film I made of my Spoken Word poetry here. Unfortunately I had issues with my microphone, so check back often, I will record a Spoken Word audio track with :)
WHITE PROPAGANDA Spoken Word Poetry by SM CADMAN (unperformed)
1Hirsch, Edward (2014). A Poets Glossary. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780151011957.
2Wilson, Serri-D (2011). The Spoken Word Work Book. Calgary and Banff: Calgary Spoken Word Society. The Banff Centre Press. ISBN 9781894773409.
Image credit/from: Microsoft Clip-Art Gallery.
Originally published on Page to Pixels.