See this face? This is the face of a person about to SPEAK.
Watch … as the words build within them.
Listen … and they may yet show you a part of yourself that you were hitherto unaware of.
This is the power of words. And words are their power.
For before you, stands a Spoken Word Poet. A person most likely unknown, but who has come to share their words with you. Their stage is not a fixed point in space, but the length of time it takes to converse with you – whether that be three minutes or many more.
These people are our oral tradition: a stranger telling intimate stories of you and me.
They are our-story: narrating our times and experiences with the very language we use to describe our daily world; and all that is required of us is that we listen! That we HEAR!
Do not misunderstand me. Their utterances will generate thought and meditation, but our first act as an audience is to HEAR. To learn by the ear: and in doing so, notice and observe the topic under discussion.
They are our scribes: the keepers of accounts that tell of who we were, who we are and who we strive to be.
And no easy task this.
They must empty themselves until they become a cipher: a design of interwoven letters forming phrases and paragraphs that tell us about our freedoms and our ignorance; our inventions and our differences; our fears and our celebrations; our knowledge and our similarities; our imaginings and our apologies; our peoples, our selves, our place and all our thoughts we cannot say.
They must wield words like swords: cutting to the quick of the matter so that we are required to look again at what we know, and perceive the very essence of it: for by its very definition, a ‘word’ is “the smallest isolable meaningful element of the language”*. And because of this, they are denied the option of looking away – for how can you describe a thing without focusing and ruminating on it?
They must stand before us, opening deep wounds and displaying their vulnerability, so that we can view our discomforts and afflictions from a point of distance and safety: a self-flagellation that sacrifices their pain for ours. When did you last self-harm on behalf of a stranger so they could be protected?
They act as our cultural authors: composing our lived and shared experience into refined ballads that communicate between individuals, groups and societies. Becoming our vocal intercourse – the song running between This is me/This is you/This is us.
And so I say:
Walk tall, my oral brothers and sisters. For you are called to be our lore: our conduit between present and past; transmitting by word of mouth, the learning from one generation to another.
Walk tall and call clamorously. And we, the wordless, the inarticulate and the tongue-tied; we who are gifted other aptitudes and other roles, will come and bear witness as you speak your truth(s) … and ours.
If you haven’t been to a spoken word event yet, treat yourself and check out an event in your local area.
Here are a few pieces to whet your appetite:
SO TELL ME: What do you think of this piece?
- Did it engage you?
- Does the meaning come across? Are there any images or lines you don’t understand or find unclear?
- Are there obvious errors in spelling, punctuation or grammar?
- Do you have any suggestions for revision?
Please be brutally honest in your assessments – good, bad or indifferent.
I don’t scare easily; and I really do want to hear what YOU have to say about my work.
Many thanks in advance for your time and your criticism.
SPREAD THE WORD
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AUTHOR: I am might war. I have a love of music, the written word, travel, Anime, polar bears, people and “sticking and colouring”.