Speaking up for the Spoken Word

Article by: Kyle Kim

Photographs collated by: Panchalee Perrera

Words are everywhere at ISM, from Forensics and MUN to hallway gossip and lunch table discussions. What our school lacks, however, is the combination of humor, creativity, and performance found in a Spoken Word Club. Spoken word poetry is, essentially, poetry spoken out loud, but it has evolved into a unique form of entertainment, increasingly in demand.

Although today’s spoken word competitors generally try to generate laughter, spoken word poetry was initially launched in the 1960s as emotionally expressive, and not necessarily comedic. For example, one of the world’s greatest spoken word poets, Martin Luther King, delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech to promote social change. According to freshman Sean HJ Rhee, the great power behind “spoken word poem is that it is influential, logical, and yet humorous at the same time.”

What differentiates spoken word poetry from written poetry, says freshman Neha Nagpal, is that “written poetry tends to have a negative context among the student body.” Spoken word poetry, she continues, conveys the same emotion and depth as written poetry while avoiding the stigma attached to English class assignments. The spoken word brings poetry alive.

Many universities have clubs devoted to spoken word poetry, including UCLA, University of Kenton, and Stanford University. These universities recognize the idea that the creativity, discipline, and confidence needed for spoken word poetry are important for student growth.

Spoken PoetryWhile students and audiences around the world are benefiting from the humor and tutelage of spoken word poetry, the International School Manila has yet to join the fray. With spoken word’s growing popularity in the media and the increase in national and international spoken word competitions (10,000 people come from all around the globe to participate in spoken word competitions such as Connecticut’s Sunken Gardens Reading), it is in ISM’s best interest to establish a Spoken Word Club.

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