A Short History of Spoken Word Poetry | Spoken Word Archive


Throughout history and across all
cultures stories have been told to entertain and connect communities. Since the mid 20th century a powerful new performance style has spread across the world Welcome to the short history of the
spoken word poetry movement performance poetry or spoken word emerged from the jazz poetry of the
1920s and subsequent experiments of The Beat Generation writers, in the late 50s
beat poetry found its way to the UK in the 1960s spoken word embraced its role as a popular voice for counterculture both in the US and the UK and during the
US Civil Rights Movement and poetry provided a powerful format for protest
and artistic expression during the 60s and 70s political black poetry laid the foundations of hip-hop in the US whilst the UK’s ranting poets captured the anti-establishment feelings of punk in 1982 Apples and Snakes was founded in the upstairs room of a London pub soon after in 1984 the first poetry slam took place in Chicago As it developed spoken word became a melting pot of influences from other art forms dub poetry grew out of the lyrical performance style of
toasting, the Jamaican reggae scene of the 1960’s. Comedy poetry became a common feature of the cabaret scene and during the 90s spoken word artists started
writing solo poetry shows MC battles captured a popular consciousness and slams spread across the world in the late 2000s poets began to get
thousands then millions of views online inspiring more and more people and
taking poetry into your front room currently spoken word poets around the
world are headlining festivals going viral and keeping the activist
tradition alive. The future? Poems in space? Poet robots? Poems on the ocean floor? Make some noise, speak your truth, you are the poet.

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