“You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and Sweat. You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses.”
— ‘The Type’, Sarah Kay, a Spoken Word poet
By definition, Spoken Word is a performance medium where individuals vocalize their feelings. It is a medium that involves weaving the words together and speaking them aloud to express how you feel. While most of us are aware of poetry as the most common example of the spoken word, it can also include monologues and comedy routines.
Due to the ominous presence and the easy access to social media, the opinion of every individual matters. While earlier these viewpoints were confined to the drawing rooms, now they find themselves on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Although poetry as a medium was always concerned with speaking, with William Wordsworth famously declaring that a poet is a man speaking to men, the power of social media has made spoken word art very approachable.
As women, there are countless struggles that we go through every day. The expectation to be a good daughter, wife, mother and at the same time, reminding yourself to not feel guilty about following your dreams—the battles are fought everywhere, inside your head and out in the world. So if you find someone who understands your fear and gives shape to them, it forges a bond that transcends every boundary. There are many Spoken Word poets who are doing a brilliant job in convincing women all over the world that they are not alone. By reading their poetry, they are giving voice and providing strength to the hundreds of women who hear them on a daily basis.
With the world celebrating International Women’s Day on 8 March, here are five Spoken Word poets who should be known by every woman:
Sarah Kay, an American poet known for being the founder of Project V.O.I.C.E., was born in New York City. Most people may recognise her from her TED talk poem, “If I should have a daughter.” Kay has published her poems in various magazines and books on her collections of poetry. As a Spoken Word poet, Kay beautifully speaks about love, women, human experience and poetry.
Kate Tempest is an English Spoken Word performer, recording artist, novelist. She won the Ted Hughes Award in 2013 for Brand New Ancients and has published multiple books of poetry. As a poet, Tempest speaks on life, human emotions and a lot more.
Andrea Gibson is an American poet and an activist who grew up in Calais. An award-winning poet, Gibson speaks on the issues faced by the LGBT community, social norms and love. Her words spin a magical tale and hit you exactly where they intend to, forcing you to think about the issues. Gibson is an amazing poet and you will find yourself always going back to her poems craving for more.
Sierra DeMulder’s poem, “Paper Dolls” was just about 2 minutes and 20 seconds long but it was so powerful that you need to pause for some time after listening to it. A published author and an award-winning poet, DeMulder writes on intense topics like assault, depression and issues related to women. Her words are hard hitting and will force you to think—maybe this is what she aims for.
Bianca Phipps’ “Almosts” is a perfect poem. It captures grief in raw form, it gives words to the feeling of hollowness that comes in when you lose someone. As a poet, Phipps speaks about love, failed relationships and patriarchy. Her language and the powerful way in which she speaks will make you stop everything that you are doing and listen to her.