Friday, April 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Spoken Word: Much More Than Words

Amongst the numerous art forms that exist within the creative world, spoken word is without a doubt one of the most thought provoking types of art. So what is spoken word? This particular talent revolves around the poet’s articulate delivery of words on a specific topic which is usually presented in the style of storytelling. Its success is dependent on the poet’s lyrical fluency and expression conveyed within a single performance. The poet aims to captivate his/her listeners and generally seeks to challenge and inspire the audience to see the world through their eyes.

You may be surprised to know that spoken word is not a new form of art; it has existed throughout history. Ancient Greeks would include spoken word poetry during their Olympic games as a way of making political and social comments to large audiences that ranged up to thousands of people. Modern spoken-word became very popular in African-American culture during the 60s’ when the African –American civil rights movement occurred in amidst the social and cultural discourse that heavily prevailed throughout America. Great speakers would deliver their words through musically influenced narratives which aimed make political and or social proclamations to the world. An exceptional example of this is the political figure Martin Luther King who’s speech on freedom; “I have a Dream” became one of the most inspirational moments in history to date. He used the art of spoken word to comment on humanity’s need to surpass creed colour and race in order to emancipate humanity of its own shackles. M. Luther King’s speech serves as an ever-present reminder to a contemporary audience of humanity’s infinite potential to achieve greatness in regards to personhood. In addition, other inspirational people such as Sojourner Truth and Booker T. Washington are also prominent figures whose spoken word poetry left an imprint in history.

This art form still remains integral within our modern culture to date; for example slam poetry is a competition where spoken word artists compete against each other either in prose or verse and their performance is judged by the way they convey their story. Thus, is a prime example of how spoken word has been used throughout the centuries as a way for people to express personal and public affairs to the world. Overall, the hallmark of spoken word is its use of concrete language that seeks to emanate a tone of seriousness from the performer.

Spoken word excites the senses as the poet takes the listener on a journey to different places and experiences by skilfully creating vivid images and sounds through an eloquent yet powerful projection of words.

Article: Victoria Ormé