22 October 2012, 12:16 GMT
Spoken Word poetry is a century old medium, with critics suggesting that it dates back to the USA’s Harlem Renaissance period of the 1920s. Some literary anthropologists have cited its beginnings in the late 19th century with “Sermon on the Mount” poetic styles. The utilization of musical meter and social criticism could probably be traced further back to the days of Ancient Egypt and the stories of “poetry in the square” – the principal form of entertainment during the days of enlightenment. A moving, breathing, living and fluid artform, spoken word has traveled continents and is now interpreted in a variety of different ways. A communication art, a physical form incorporating criticism and clever phrasing, it stands as one of the most interesting artistic genres that has insinuated itself into modern literature, largely fueled by the people’s addiction to the sound. Truly egalitarian as university grads to the working class postman all have a place in the Spoken Word Scene.
In the London poetry scene, spoken word predominates, and is anything from ekphrastic re-interpretations of fairy-tales to surrealist theatrical monologues. This performance centred artform has even made it to the orchestra scene, with artists like Dzifa Benson stepping in to write words to accompany Italian librettos.
What spoken word is, and should always be is spoken – that is performed to get its full effect. And we at Femficatio don’t think that’s such a bad idea. Though written music has a beauty on the page, of course it has no impact unless it is played on an instrument. Spoken Word Poetry is the merger of music and metaphor – and we’re always doubly happy when this merger stays consistent with the original aims of Spoken Word – to be a socially conscious literary form.
Below is a performance by Tolu “Poetic Echos” Agbelusi. A lawyer by trade, she has taken the spoken word scene by storm with her accessible metaphor and depth of emotion. Her passionate performance and the beautiful Nigerian lilt to her voice give both urgency and a striking aesthetic quality to her poems. The piece below,”Rose that Grew from Concrete” is from the 2012 Manorlogz TV series on SKY. Poetic Echos has also been published in the anthology “Between Summer Lines 2012” and is a member of the UK Poetry Collective “Malika’s Poetry Kitchen”.
*Note from Editor: Previously “Malika’s Poetry Kitchen” was listed as a “Spoken Word” Collective which is inaccurate.