The terrible tale of a novelist who wishes she was a rapper.
I’ve never been to a spoken word gig like that. They’re usually small, in dingy back rooms of pubs in East London, with a bit of an electric atmosphere if they’re good, or a bit of a dead goldfish if not. But this was at The Southbank Centre, and the whole Shake the Dust community had the feel of true Slam: competition, support and general love and appreciation for the art form.
I’ve always felt a bit wary of spoken word, as there’s such a great variety of form and quality. I edge closer towards the rap-style poetry, from people like Kate Tempest, Dizraeli and Akala. I’m much more wary of the comedic type (although I’ve definitely come around to it) and I am very, very wary of the ‘white middle class girl waxing poetical about her problems’ (which is what I would be if I tried this).
After seeing a…questionable line-up at Wychwood Fest, where the amazing stand out artist of the night was Dreadlock Alien (who also teaches spoken word workshops in schools) and then catching a bunch of workshops at Larmertree Festival, I’ve realised: I really wish I could do this. But spoken word is not just about getting the words on the page, about editing and stripping down and telling a story. It’s about tone and voice and volume and passion, and stage presence. It’s a lot more like acting than I’m comfortable with. I’d much rather let my page talk for me. Although…I do talk really fast.
I write some rap-type poems, and I think I’ll keep doing so, hopefully catching a slam workshop at some point. But for now, why don’t you enjoy some of my favourite spoken word pieces:
P.S Spoken Word Poets that I know- please Big Up yourselves in the comment box, and post your twitter/blogs/videos, right? Good!