“Spoken word poetry is perfect for me. Theatre and poetry came together and had a baby. I had to be there.” –Sarah Kay.
I spent hours (that I should have spent studying) to watch the numerous videos I recently discovered, of poetry recitals. Before that word “poetry” makes you shut this tab down, at least make your way to the end of this article. These are not conventional poetry recitals because it seemed the poetry had been written for the purpose of drama and the stage. For some reason, I liked the women more than the men, and all of the ones on this list are by women. Here is a list of some of my favourites. They can easily be YouTubed, and should be.
1. When your boyfriend asks you to strip for him – Nicole Homer
“The store will remind you of your body
Each aisle a dirty finger,
A freak show,
Of what you are willing to do.
Practice for the stage
By avoiding eye contact with the salesgirl.
Find something small, see-through, cut-out, fish-net…
And when she compliments you on how well
You wear the nothing you were trying on,
She is a liar, who works on commission.”
She was one of the first poets that I listened to. Her voice somehow fits the poem so perfectly, and she is an excellent speaker. I did not find much from the same poet, and yet this one poem won me over. A friend of mine called me “too feministic” after I suggested this to him, and I was accused of misandry. I told him he did not understand the poem. I hope someone proves me right. This kind of poetry is the reason why contemporary poetry is so much more intimate and relatable to me (and I presume to all poetry lovers) and how Wordsworth’s love for nature in its entirety, never made much sense to me.
2. Communion – Jeanann Verlee
I began to write about this poem, trying to quote a few lines to get you interested, while listening to the poem at least thrice. I could not pick any lines to show the reader how passionately this woman hits me every time I hear her speak. She is experienced, and someday if I write half as well as her, I will consider myself lucky. There are more from the same poet in this list, as well.
3. Private Parts – Saray Kay
“We didn’t grow up,
We grew in,
Like ivy, wrapping,
Molding each other in perfect yings and yangs,
We kissed with mouths open
Breathing his exhale into my inhale.
We could have survived under water,
Or outer space
Living only off the breath we traded.
We spelled love, G-I-V-E.”
Sarah Kay failed to impress me as much as the other women in the Bowery Poetry Club did, but she is breathtaking in some of her poems and very mature a poet for her age. This poem especially was very calm, very naïve, but that is where its charm dwelled. Her poetry lies in simplicity and it can be very appealing to a lot of people. “Montauk” was also an exhilarating listen.
4. Lessons on Loving a Prophet – Jeanann Verlee
When the minions call you whore,
He will tell you of the others,
How they went crazy in their sleep,
Awaiting his return,
Do not flinch,
Do not doubt your thickened fingertips,
Stand upright. You promised.
When you find him in his room,
Thrashing his sheets,
Pressing his palms into the wall, howling,
His face a river…
Close the door.”
Verlee got my attention in this poem as soon as she said “To Kasturba Gandhi”. Though I personally felt that was a stretch, but she held my attention throughout the poem, even made me smile in admiration twice. Her words are lucid, just like her meaning, which I find lacking in so many poets I’ve read. She tailors the words in a way I do not see coming. And each of her poems is better than the previous and the next.
5. In lieu of her writing any new poetry, the author critiques the four line song she heard her boyfriend spontaneously create while drunkenly walking up their apartment stairwell – Christin O’Keefe
This isn’t as much poem as much as it is amusing. It is hilarious, dry and imaginative, and not a lot of people might like it. But she is so perfectly analytical about something so useless, it begs a humorous reaction! It needs to be on this list because this lists requires assortment, and this light “poem” might make someone smile.
6. Breathe – Joanna Hoffman
This. This one I heard right after watching 3 back-to-back “It’s always sunny in Philadelphia” episodes which had been followed by a lot of “Scrubs”, but this poem was so strong in its gestures and meaning, that I cannot be ashamed to say that I almost cried. I did not even listen to her again for the purpose of putting up this list. I listened to very few poems of Hoffman, but I know for a fact that she is my favourite as she is unashamed, clear and strong. These are the requirements to be excellent poets. “Pride” by Hoffman is extremely personal and steady, as well. There is not much I can say about her because I fail to, but if one were to listen to even one poem from this list; it should be by this poet.
There are not many poems I can add here as the sheer length might scare readers away, but take time to listen to words which are so bent out of shape, they are almost beautiful, I guarantee. One of the few times I wish there was a poetry club in our college.