Here are poems that need to be on everyone's must watch list, and for those of you who don't want to click on each of these poem's links individually, here's a Youtube Playlist with all of them on it. I also included what the poem is about and links to another poem by these poets (usually my personal favorite because I can't list them all) if you're really feeling their work. If you're a poetry fanatic, I also included a link to the poet's collections (if they have them) available for purchase that has been added to my own wish-list. If you're not satisfied enough listening to all these poems, never fear, as I wrote another list of poems performed by individual poets that are just as great.
1. "When Love Arrives” by Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye
This poem speaks about the many faces of love and how it shifts quickly and unexpectedly. It calls attention to the fact that love may slip from your fingers and fizzle into nothing, and then bloom again. If you’re a fan of this poem, make sure to check out another one of Sarah’s poems (an oldie but a personal favorite) called “Hand Me Downs” or her collection of poetry entitled “No Matter the Wreckage” (2014). Phil’s poem “Repetition” is also a great mix of word play and definite must watch for CODs (Children of Divorce). In addition, check out their joint poem "An Origin Story" to listen to the story of how life tied them together.
2. "My Name” by Aman Batra and Yesika Salgado
This poem speaks to all those people (myself included) whose name is more often a weight on their back than a label of pride pinned onto them. However, despite the shared struggle, this poem made me want to wear my name with honor. If you’re a fan of this amazing poem, listen to Aman's “Election Night” (because I couldn’t have spoken these thoughts with as much beauty and truth as she has) or her spoken word with Kito Fortune called “You Can’t Have My Culture”. Her collections of poetry, “Stolen Thing” (2016) and “Dripping Love” really explore themes of identity and values stunningly. Yesika’s poetry is graceful and raw as her poem “Compilation” and her collection, “The Luna Poems” (2013) are must reads.
3. "Never Forget" by Noel Quiñones and Jasmine Combs
This poem uses history to provide a message about the future by showing its effect on people. This beautiful flow of words ensures the necessity in never forgetting what has happened so that it never will again. If you enjoyed this melody of memories, make sure to check out Noel’s poem “8 Confessions of My Tongue” that seemingly expresses how I feel about Spanish so perfectly that it’s suspicious. Additionally, check out Jasmine’s poem “Monster” and "Fight Like a Girl" as they make my jaw drop and eyes well up.
4. "Yet Still, I Wait” by Kate Hao and Kristen Sze-Tu
This poem truly expresses the importance of words and their order. Speed and structure take hold in this poem and create a beautiful mess of words with multiple meanings that are all just as heartbreaking and divine. If this poem hits you as it did for me, make sure to watch Kate’s poem “In Which Every Poem that I Write Becomes a Poem About My Body” as her words are beautifully heart-wrenching. In addition, if you can turn your volume up all the way, watch Kristen’s funny and quirky poem called “Conversations”.
5. "Sh*t I'm not creative enough to makeup or a series of unrelated events.." by Alysia Harris and Zora Howard
This poem shows the difference between coincidence and patterns. The words of these stories show the truth behind people’s beliefs and how what should be rare or non-existent is often blatant and present in the mind of too many people. If you enjoy this poem, you should listen to Alysia’s poem “No Poems Inside the Victorian House” or when you get a chance, grab a copy of her chapbook, “How Much We Must Have Looked Like Stars to Stars”. Make sure to also check out the flow of Zora’s poem in both “On Things of Which I am Ashamed ”, “Before Bed” and her collection of poetry entitled “Clutch”(2010).
6. "Abortion" by Eva Crespin and Mercedez Holtry
This poem is a spine tilling fight for pro-choice values in a mesh of conservative minds. This spoken word brought forth the major points behind the choice and its importance in life. Definitely feel free to check out Mercedez’s poem "La Washa" and her collection of poetry entitled “My Blood is Beautiful” (2015). Also, another poem to recommend would be Eva, Mercedez, and Gigi Bella’s collaboration poem “War Paint" along with Eva and Damien Flores's hilarious poem "Mexican Graduations"
7. “Black Panther/F**k Batman” by Anthony McPherson and Steven Willis
This poem twists humor and real issues into a raw message about discrimination and identity. With the uprising in popularity of superheroes, it’s good that poems like these ones remind us that representation matters and affects people’s perceptions. Along with Anthony's poem, “Battle", Anthony and Paul Tran’s collaborative poem “Peacock Spider” is also one to add to your must watch list. Steven’s “How the Hood Loves You Back” is another poem that made me want to cry and cheer at the same time.
8. “Say No” by Olivia Gatwood and Megan Falley
This poem speaks about the pressure put on women to say yes when we want to say no and how the world tries to pry it’s yes from our throats. This poem displays real stories and rough words of harsh truths about the world and empowerment. As kickass as the Speak Like a Girl duo is, make sure to check out their separate performances. Megan’s poem “He/Him/His” about pronouns made me understand perspectives. For your anything like me, make sure to add Megan’s collection of poetry, “After the Witch Hunt” (2012) to your to-reads list. In addition, Olivia’s poem “Backpedal” really spoke to me and if you enjoy her work as much as I do, grab her collection entitled “New American Best Friend” (2017).
9. "To Our Mothers" by Marshall Gillson and Ashley Davis
This poem showed that while there is pride in mother/fatherhood, there is also honor in taking care of oneself and keeping yourself well. This poem shows that while some may view it selfish, we have to do what is best for ourselves or we’ll never be right for another. If you enjoyed this spoken word, then check out their other collaboration entitled “Mixed Kids”. That poem speaks to how skin and blood don’t determine self worth but others use it as harmful labels.
Also, check out Marshall's poem "Black Boy Climbs into the Gorilla Cage to Ask for Advice" and Ashley's poem with Oompa entitled, "Simon Says".
10. “Selfie” by Jenna Robinson and Will Giles
This poem takes a concept known to all millennials and gives it a meaning that anyone from any generation could understand. The words from this poem show the importance in identity and becoming in-erasable. Jenna’s poem “Wonder Woman” brings out new feelings about the goddess of truth and women empowerment as a whole. But Will’s poem “Ursula” extends beyond powerful woman into a personal struggle that hits the home of too many people. Additionally, check out Will's poem with Travis T. called “Oral Traditions” that calls attention to the history people tried to obliterate.
11. “Zombie—Destroying Abuelita II” by Melissa Lozada-Oliva and Jonathan Mendoza
This poem mashes hilarity and seriousness to create a story that makes you laugh and think at the same time. This poem will definitely stay in your mind long after you're done watching it and for good reason. If you enjoy quirky but real poetry, listen to Melissa’s poem “My Spanish” that really expresses the battle of tongues bi-lingual people suffer. Her other work is just as creative and inspiring, be sure to pre-order her collection entitled “Peluda” (2017). Jonathan’s “For Quiet Boys” displays the importance of expressing thoughts. His words make me want to scream to the mountain tops so that my voice is heard.
12. “Sons” by Rudy Francisco and Terisa Siagatonu
This poem brings awareness to the foundation of rape culture and harsh truths about upbringing and coddling. This poem shows the importance of values being taught instead of ignored. Be sure to watch Rudy’s poem “Chameleon” as it really makes you wonder if you see the difference between who people are and the appearances they put up. Terisa’s stunning poem “Meauli” shows discrimination doesn't always have to blatant to be there, and that the worst cuts may come from those closest to you. Discrimination happens everywhere, in the voices of strangers but also in the silence of friends.
13. "Somewhere in America" by Rhiannon McGavin, Belissa Escobedo, and Zariya Allen
First of all, I know this is a trio but they were so good that I had to include them. This poem really shows how censorship can do more harm than good, especially when censorship is limited to knowledge instead of harmful objects. This poem really displayed the value in discussing real world issues. If you enjoyed this poem, then be sure to watch “Coffee” by the trio and “Rape Joke” by Rhiannon and Belissa. In addition, personal favorites of mine would be “Smile” by Rhiannon McGavin or grab her collection, called "Branches"(2017). The poem “Shots Fired” by Rhiannon, Zariya Allen, Kyland Turner and Walter Finnie also sheds light on an issue that is, sadly, not going away anytime soon.
All of these poems really hit home of several important issues and they all hold their own importance.