What is Spoken Word Poetry?

What is Spoken Word Poetry?

Spoken word poetry has gained immense social media popularity over the last few years even though it has existed since many years.

What is spoken word poetry?

  • It is performance based and an oral art that focuses on the aesthetics of word play and voice inflection.
  • It is specifically written to be performed aloud.
  • Many times it is used to target social issues.
  • It acts like an outlet for people to talk about their experiences and emotions.

Rising popularity in India

A spoken word poetry scene has started paving its way in India. Though initially confined to small cafes and open mics, it is starting to gain popularity in the shape of nationwide poetry events.

  • Just last year, Airplane Poetry Movement organized a National Youth Poetry Slam competition in Bangalore. It had two divisions for school students and college students and features more than 100 participants from across the country.
  • They also managed to convince Sarah Kay, one of the most famous spoken word poets, to come to the event along with Kalki Koechlin who herself has written many spoken word poems.
  • Airplane Poetry Movement also holds workshops in schools and colleges to spread the art and encourage people of all ages to try their hand at poetry. They are very active on their social media pages and interact with their followers by asking them to write on specific topics or by doing live streams of impromptu spoken word poetry slams.

Apart from them many other organizations too organize events and workshops to do with poetry in most cities of India.


Here are some poems that aim to spread beautiful messages through spoken word poetry:

Crystal Valentine – “And the News Reporter Says Jesus Is White”
“What makes a Black man a Black man?
Is it the way reporters retell their deaths like fairy tales? Is it the way they cannot outrun a bullet?”

In this poem Crystal Valentine rants about people who insist on arguing that Jesus was a white man even though there has never been any proof of his ethnicity. She raises her voice against the blatant disregard by people who refuse to accept the possibility of being a person of color even though there is no scientific analysis to disregard the claim.

Blythe Baird – “Pocket-Sized Feminism”

“We text each other when we get home safe and it does not occur to us that not all of our guy friends have to do the same.”

Blythe Baird’s poetry is laced with feminist values and ideas. In this, she talks about how some people who don’t understand what feminism is; think of people who always go on about it as unlikable. She says that she herself is guilty of hiding her opinion from crowd and friend groups at times because it is difficult to stand up for your values all the time.

Sabrina Benaim – “Explaining My Depression to My Mother”

“I make plans because I know I should want to go. I know sometimes I would have wanted to go.

It’s just not that fun having fun when you don’t want to have fun, Mom.”

This poem is targeted at people who can’t or don’t understand how mental illnesses like depression and anxiety affect others around. She uses this poem trying to paint a picture of the thoughts that goes through her mind during a conversation with such a person.