"Sarah Kay, spoken word poet" by Michael E. Lee is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Photo Credit Michael E. Lee)
"Sarah Kay, spoken word poet" by Michael E. Lee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit Michael E. Lee

A Taste of Spoken Word Poetry

February 6, 2019

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Poetry is something that has always felt a tad foreign, a tad too abstract. But, when these words are read aloud, something changes and the concepts become easier to grasp. If you have yet to delve into spoken word poetry or you’re simply searching for your next listen, browse the following selections. Each piece reflects a different style, so not all will be everyone’s cup of tea. A few of the options are more well-known, but, regardless, I think they ought to be shared.


Sarah Kay – “Montauk”


Kay has such a beautiful soul that is revealed in her poetry. In this poem, she unravels memories spent in Montauk.


“There are some places where fishnets do not mean stockings, where the learning happens in between moments, like after a wave passes, and you break the surface gasping for air.”

Bianca Phipps – “Almosts”


This one’s for all the language lovers, for those that find happiness in formulating the ideal sentence. Phipps compares her relationship to their unique diction.


“Words can only help you if you speak them.”

Olivia Gatwood – “Alternate Universe in Which I Am Unfazed by the Men Who Do Not Love Me”


Sometimes when listening to this, you may have to double-take what Gatwood is musing. The poem is simultaneously amusing and powerful.


“Once a boy told me ‘he doesn’t believe in labels,’ so I embroidered the word ‘chauvinist’ on the back of his coat.”

Sabrina Benaim – “Explaining My Depression to My Mother”


There is a certain solace to this piece. Meandering between her mother’s certainty and and her lack thereof, Benaim conveys her thoughts eloquently.


“I am sleepwalking on an ocean of happiness I cannot baptize myself in.”

Sabrina Benaim – “Reasons”


A more lighthearted view of Benaim, she explains all the reasons her relationship does not work. To say the least, it’s hilarious and not depressing.


“Wanting him feels like ignoring the warning not to keep my hand on the burner for too long as a lesson in withstanding heat. Turns out I am most receptive to hands-on learning.”

River Mason – “If I Italicize”


Even young people have a story. Poetry and expressing feelings is societally deemed unmasculine, and Mason challenges those notions.


“My job is to stay whole until vacant.”

Neil Hilborn – “OCD”


Whether you have a mental disorder or not, how heartbreak feels is ubiquitous. Hilborn delivers this feeling so well that, on an emotional day, you may shed a tear (or two). For a deeper look into Hilborn’s message, click here to view a TEDx Talk of his.


“She was the first beautiful thing I ever got stuck on.”

Doc Luben – “14 Lines from Love Letters or Suicide Notes”


Luben reveals that love and suicide can be synonymous, that there is a gray area of intermingling between them.


“How do we forgive ourselves for all the things we did not become?”

Eliza Hope Duran – “My Unapology”


Her spunk speaks volumes, and we all ought to listen. Keep an open mind and enjoy her story.


“This is for me, my unapologetic bloody lips, and all the time I have spent trying to unknow myself.”

Miles Carter – “If You Decide to Love Someone.”


Yes, this is sappy. But, also yes, this is well worth your time, especially if you’ve found yourself entering a new relationship.


“Your heart will be shaped and reshaped

But in the end, it will still be yours.”

Victoria Morgan – “How to Succeed in Heartbreak”


Morgan is both sarcastic and earnest as she informs her audience on how to recover, ultimately concluding that while one cannot “succeed” in heartbreak, they can accept it.


“Go to museums, realize other things have history too.”

Nora Cooper – “I Won’t Write Your Obituary”


How a loved one reacts to suicidal thoughts is rarely noted. Cooper aptly conveys the toll it takes on someone who cares.


“I don’t want your heart. It’s not yours anymore, it’s just a heart now and I already have one.”


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