This is Sarah Kay performing “B” at TED. I found this a few months ago, late at night when I was watching TED because I couldn’t sleep, and it’s kinda become my mantra—it reminds me that bad and good often go hand-in-hand. It’s also one of my absolute favourite spoken word poems by one of my absolute favourite spoken word poets.
Spoken word poetry isn’t a new thing—it’s been around since it’s origination in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s—but it’s come back into cool recently. And I for one am enormously grateful.
I’ve always been a poetry nerd—reading it, listening to it, and even writing it (badly)—but there’s something so much more in the lyricalness of spoken word…I guess it appeals to my musical heart. And then there’s the strong use of it as a message tool, a political weapon without the need for violence. This too I love. It’s a story-teller, a verbal image-visualiser—giving voice to those thoughts that need images, but can’t necessarily be summed up by one or even one hundred pictures. And it’s a creative outlet, and that’s something I will always hold close and champion because creativity in any form is something we need more of in life.
Another of my favourite spoken word poets is the current Australian champion – Luka Lesson. This intelligent and friendly (and handsome) gent is a Brissie boy, and a pal of a number of my friends so I’ve had the pleasure to watch him perform live. He speaks often and eloquently about issues affecting marginalised groups, youth, and those who can’t speak for themselves. I have trouble picking a favourite of his performances, but I gotta say, this one at an Anti-Racism Rally on the steps of Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station is pretty darn powerful:
But spoken word isn’t always about speaking for the unheard—sometimes you just don’t have the heart to think about the injustice around you. It’s also about life in general. Like Sarah Kay, Rives is a TED regular with a style (poetically and fashion-wise) that I was addicted to from my very first listening of this TED 2006 clip about running the internet:
And I gotta admit a slight crush on the emperor of oranges.