With so many gorgeous forms of performance art and expression, it’s easy to forget about the power of words through poetry. Spoken word, or slam poetry, is an electric way to create messages and forms ideas that need to jump off the page and be vocalized. The rhythm of words and pauses from a poet as they recite and breathe through their poem is an incredibly engaging and empowering experience as an audience member.
Thankfully, we don’t have to go to dozens of coffee shops for poetry slam nights to get our dose of arts. Now we can watch and re-watch performances on YouTube. With so many kickass spoken work poets out there producing mind-twisting and heart-melting poems, here’s a short list of HelloFlo’s favorite spoken word poets.
1. Andrea Gibson
Andrea Gibson is an award-winning poet and activist who focuses on gender norms, social justice, and the challenges within the LGBT community. Their sonorous voice pulls you into their personal thoughts as they weave the bigger picture into their anecdotes, touching on racism from the white queer perspective, the magic of loving someone, and the hate crimes that have killed many people in the LGBT community. Gibson gracefully sends each poignant moment to your ears with perfect timing, as if they already know the best way for you to hear.
2. Sarah Kay
Sarah Kay is most widely known for her TED Talk performance of “If I Should Have a Daughter.” Both prior and since, Kay is a spoken word poetry teacher and co-director and founder of Project VOICE. She delightfully speaks of long distance love, intimacy of a young first love, and her experience in India. The softness in her inflection adds to her unique aesthetic that enables her to engage and inspire others through her storytelling.
3. Jeanann Verlee
Jeanann Verlee brings in an eclectic flavor of words to her poetry, always packing a punch with her lines and circling through both laughter and pain in one fellow three-minute swoop. Her poem titled “40 Love Letters” does just that – leaving you breathless and excited and overjoyed once you’ve reached the end. Verlee understands the strength in the element of surprise with her phrasing and pausing. She loves to intertwine relationships and reflection with religious metaphors such as loving a prophet or communion on her own narrative to her father.
4. Sierra DeMulder
DeMulder is most notably known for her mesmerizing performance of “Mrs. Dahmer” in the 2010 National Poetry Slam Finals that allows us to see into the mind of a mother whose son is a killer.
5. Lauren Zuniga
Lauren Zuniga is a fireball of passion and gusto. This nationally touring poet showcases her strong activism through her poems and has challenged Oklahoma legislature through one of her video performances. She speaks out against anti-choice legislation, vulnerably shares own sexual assault, and humorously discusses her first sexual experience with a woman. Both strong and funny, Zuniga is able to grasp a wide audience with the variety of her topics and the bravery of her social justice efforts.
Cover image courtesy of The Daily Californian.