Cultivate It: Words Spoken

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

By: Tiffani Haynes

Spoken word is so much more than people gathering together to hear poetry. It’s an experience that transports the audience to the exact time, place and feelings the author was in when the poem was created.

Spoken word artists are so much more than people who recite poetry. They are truly lyrical artists who paint a mental picture. Your ears become eyes as you begin to see the artist’s work come alive before you.

The experience is captivating. It’s special. It’s lyrical, musical, spiritual greatness. It’s spoken word at it’s finest.

Yet, the treasured art of spoken word seems to have taken a decline. Unless you are in a major city, you’re hard pressed to find a spoken word session. Perhaps it’s because though spoken word has a loyal fan base, it’s not an entirely large one.

Spoken word had a huge emergence in the late 1980s/early 1990s when “poetry slams” became popular. Spoken word artists would perform and often compete before audiences. Yet, spoken word has always been an underground appreciated passion.

In 2002, Russell Simmons brought spoken word to a much broader audience with “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam” on HBO. The spoken word show was hosted by Hip Hop artist Mos Def and was a spinoff to Simmons “Def Comedy Jam” show. The show featured spoken word artists and celebrities such as Talib Kweli, Floetry, Kanye West, Jamie Foxx, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and a host of others. “Def Poetry Jam” has since ceased production but the DVDs and old episodes continue to be favorites. The show also has a published collection of poems titled after the show.

Spoken word’s presence has diminished but I doubt it’ll ever become extinct. True spoken word fans won’t let it.

Watch some of popular “Def Poetry Jam” artists:

 And check out fellow Hamptonians:


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