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Spoken word is a style of performance poetry that began in New York Citymarker and became popular among blacks in the early nineties. It evolved from the oral tradition of free-style hip hop artists and poets who would perform at local open mics. Unlike previous styles of poetry, spoken word is usually written with the intention of being performed. It emphasizes the tone of the human voice, which adds another layer of meaning for interpretation. While spoken word poems may vary in style, most have a narrative, include some form of social commentary and range from being two to three minutes long.

History

Spoken word did not evolve until the late 1980s and early 1990s with the emergence of "poetry slams," where spoken word artists would square off in cabaret-style duels. This type of competitive slam poetry event has been popular in India for centuries. In the United Statesmarker, the competition of slam poetry probably arose from rap music and rapper competitions. The common element is protest and a critical or corrective tone. Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City is one of the earliest venues where poets could protest the ills of society. Def Poets on HBO became the most visible venue for slam-type protest poets, but the poets did not necessarily compete against each other for audience approval. Hip-hop is now commonly considered under the general genre of spoken word as shown in a recent article by Clare Morgan in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Spoken Word was adopted by college circles in the early 80's to describe a new wave of performing arts that was birthed during Postmodern Art Movement. Spoken Word was basically a catchall phrase to describe anything that didn’t fit into the already established categories of performance arts like: music, theatre, and dance.

The Spoken Word movement in the '80s is similar to the Beats in the 1960’s. Spoken word and the Beats share a mutual lack of respect from the academic community, emphasis on poetry, and poems about consciousness and confession. The main difference is that spoken word is not recognized because it is not published. Many artists and poets have not published any of their works in book forms. Also spoken word is more about spreading all poetry of all diversities; not just about the white male community as was the Beats in the 1960’s.

By definition spoken word is: a category of performance art to encompass an new seriously developed genre or traditional form that is primarily word-based and is not exclusively music, theatre, or dance but may include collaborations with other non word-based art genres or works created in collaboration with artists from non word-based disciplines.

Actors who write poetry





See Also

List of performance poets

References

  1. http://www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/books/hop-to-it-go-west-for-much-respected-spoken-word/2009/05/22/1242498920480.html
  2. [ http://www.spokenoak.com/define.html defining spoken word] - Spoken Oak
  3. spoken word - MSU
  4. http://www.spokenoak.com/define.html defining spoken word] - Spoken Oak



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