Spoken Word Poetry - Enrich Magazine
Illustration by Chelsea Charles for Enrich Magazine

The art of voice

If you were to argue the different variations of arts, would you include poetry? Would you acknowledge the great poets like Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe and Robert Burns as much as you may view visual artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh? Though poets are not nearly as famous as painters, they are still artists. One of the most distinctive features of art is its sustainability, which is also the reason why it’s a great part of today’s society. Art is able to be twisted and tweaked just enough so it doesn’t stray too far from the original concept, yet it’s still very meaningful.

Looking back at poetry and its relevance centuries ago is mind-blowing considering how much change has occurred. From the time it was created, straight through until the late 1800s, poetry normally followed a specific pattern – rhyme schemes, syllables, and even the amount of words/sentences were numbered. It was a strict but tidy time period where presentation meant everything, meaning that if you didn’t present your work in an orderly manner, you yourself were disorganized.

Ironically, the majority of poets of old wrote about the messiest topic known to mankind – Love. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s most famous piece of work is ‘Sonnet 43’, also known as ‘How Do I Love Thee?’ Therein she wrote:

“I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; …”


This art form was a great way to woo the significant other, putting all your feelings out on paper so the tsunami in your head became a slow and ebbing wave.

Spoken Word - Enrich MagazineTo earlier poets, the silence spoke volumes; writing each thought down into a new piece of work was almost second nature. Their words were their voice. Regrettably, poetry gradually lost popularity due to society’s lack of interest; but now the spark that remains is ready to burn brightly. Modern day writers have adapted the craft in the form of Spoken Word as a way to relate to today’s issues and still use it as a means of self expression. These writers switch up the formality of it all and dive into free verse poetry, where they tug on your curiosity rather than your heartstrings, or even both. It’s as if the art evolves as time passes; it has grown well beyond “There once was girl from Nantucket …”

It’s spectacular to watch the artistic world evolving all around us. With Spoken Word, they’ve broken the silence. We have become more vocal as each thought, each word, is revolutionized into a masterpiece. It is a performance-based artform which combines many different styles – acting, storytelling, music and voice – with writing.

To be a truly great Spoken Word artist, you must be able to convince the audience that you’re enraged by the injustice of school systems, you’re hurt by betrayal of so-called friends, or hopelessly in love with the person of your dreams. It’s all about portraying feelings while still being able to tell the story. That’s what makes Spoken Word so captivating, the pure and raw emotion.

Spoken Word - Enrich MagazineWe humans are always full of emotion; it’s an inconvenient yet beautiful truth. Some of us can easily express our emotions, but for others, they rely on Spoken Word artist as a way to help voice their emotions. The fact that someone put those feelings into words that they can relate to. It is the sharing of this poetry that gives you the feeling of community, built from a common ground which reassures you that you are not alone in whatever situation you have encountered.

Not all of today’s generation will relate to Shakespeare but, some time ago, many people did. Our grandparents may not comprehend the works of Ellen Hopkins, but some might. That is what this form of modern poetry is all about, and that’s why its popularity is growing.

The arts will always be part of us. Whether it be visual, musical, written or spoken, they are the best manners of expression that we have, and will continue to evolve as people pursue their path of self-discovery.


By Shawnda Paul