I've always loved poetry, and even though I might not be the best at it, I can still appreciate it. A few years ago, I started watching spoken word poetry on YouTube. Spoken word is special to me because it's a whole performance. You can hear exactly the way the poet intended for their words to be heard; you see the expression on their face and the enthusiasm in their voice. Plus, it blows my mind the metaphors writers come up with! Here are several of my favorites that I hope do for you what they did for me.
1. Kevin Kantor - “People You May Know”
For survivors and victims of sexual assault. The difficulties of moving on and dealing with the event, especially when everything reminds you of the person. If you ever have to deal with seeing them living their life normally and knowing that they're just another human being, just like you are. This one hits deep for me. "People You May Know" is unique in that we hear about sexual assault from a male perspective; you can truly feel the pain in Kevin Kantor's voice as he chokes up during his performance of this poem.
2. Sarah Kay - “Dreaming Boy”
For those of us who can't stand gender stereotypes, for those of us who have been questioned about our sexuality, for those of us who used to be confused because we didn't fit other people's expectations based on gender. "Dreaming Boy" is a sweet poem about two, young and innocent people.
3. Emi Mahmoud - “Mama”
Emi Mahmoud is so talented, and I've learned so much just by watching videos of her performing. As a refugee from South Sudan, Emi writes a lot about her homeland and the horrific things she and her family have experienced there. Her use of dramatic and vivid imagery along with the conviction in her voice as she performs is so powerful.
4. Emi Mahmoud - “The Colors We Ascribe”
Another poem that makes you feel. Another poem about Sudan. Another poem about the heartbreaking things her family and her country has been through.
5. LionHeart - “Pretty Hurts”
I love this one because it's about insecurities and feeling like you're not good enough - something that we all face at some point in our lives. I also think it's funny because I don't think LionHeart himself is unattractive, yet one of the most notable lines from the poem is "The phrase 'being pretty hurts' is an overstatement, because being ugly kills." But that's all I'm going to say here. Watch it for yourself!
6. Hannah Dains - “Don’t Kill Yourself Today”
I've heard and read a lot of poems about suicide. "Don't Kill Yourself Today" is the perfect mix of heartache and humor for such a sensitive subject. In case you needed a reminder today, this is it.
7. Kai Davis - “Ain’t I A Woman”
"Ain't I A Woman" is about being black and being a woman, simultaneously. Linked is a full video with an explanation in the beginning and the poem begins at 3:45. This one resonates with me for the idea of existing in to two different categories simultaneously, being multiple things at once and not having to choose to be one or the other.
8. Kai Davis - “I Look Like”
Kai Davis is so unapologetically herself, and it really shows in "I Look Like." This is another poem about the expectations people have for certain people and the reactions they give when people don't fit that expectation.
9. Rudy Francisco - “A Lot Like You”
Truly, almost every one of Rudy Francisco's poems makes my heart feel things! He writes love poems so well; he's so honest, and genuine. I recommend watching any and all of his other poems.
10. Ebony Stewart - “Happy Mother’s Day”
For all the beautiful, powerful, don't take shit from anybody Moms out there. I love this poem because I love my mom, and so many parts of this poem made me laugh and think of her.
11. Ebony Stewart - “Happy Father’s Day”
In great contrast with her "Happy Mother's Day" poem, Ebony Stewart almost brings the audience to tears with this personal poem about her father.
A few other spoken word poets who deliver commanding performances every time, just as great as the ones whose poems are listed above: