Wednesday, February 5, 2014


A few weeks ago I went on a wonderful adventure to a "Spoken Word Poetry" night at a local private high school to see Project Voice: with Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye.  I stumbled upon the event, in a late night stupor of internet surfing and following link after link. The tickets, a mere $10, were purchased from my mobile phone, and I wasn't even convinced I would make it out on a Tuesday evening. But I found a kindred spirit willing to join me for a unique experience and we ventured into a bit of an unknown world.

I've written poetry, albeit poorly, since as long as I can remember. With a bit of a theater background through my pre-teens and teenage years, and even doing oral interpretation of literature in college, it makes sense that I would be drawn to this world of Spoken Word Poetry. I discovered Sarah Kay when she received notoriety through her 2011 TED talk that included "Point B," an ode to her someday daughter. Her poetry "partner," Phil, is a talent in his own right and the two of them were truly a dynamic duo.

The two work effortlessly making a partnership that is rare and beautiful, a friendship rooted in things far more magical than what most can dream of, working off of each other in playfulness, and supporting the other with all their uniqueness and strength.  "An Origin Story" weaves the story of who they are and how they are connected in those intangible bonds. While "When Love Arrives" tugs on heart strings of those young and old, seeking for love and knowing that it has to still be out there. My personal favorites were Sarah's ode to women to be "The Type" and a beautiful tribute to educators (which I've been unable to identify) which frankly brought tears to my eyes.

I was awestruck by so many things that night: their genuineness, their passion, their confidence, and of course, their raw talent.  Two amazing high school students also stirred the audience and after nearly two hours of amazing stories, we did have a brief moment to meet Phil and Sarah. These poised brilliant young people were regular humans distracted by the complexities of running a small business, overwhelmed by the people, and a bit beautifully awkward in their conversations.

As the emotions were stirred in me through that night, I've been tossing words around in my head. Below is a rough sketch of the battle raging in me to understand the best medium for sharing. Perhaps to be edited at a later date...

Spoken versus Written

Words rattle around in my head
Kernels in sizzling oil ready to explode
Their presence begging to be known
For someone to partake and savor

In the air they drift, allowing for deflection
Hanging for a moment and soaking in the present joy
Emphasis properly placed, silence used judiciously
A performance, a stage, an audience

Context abounds, but perceptions taint
The sounds are quick, missing some connectors
A oral picture is painted, facial and body gestures
Mind fills in the gaps, forgetting most, grasping only a part

On a page they last, allowing for reflection
They can be digested over and over, consumed
Clearly understood, or completely misrepresented
A book, a magazine, a blog

Conversation in short messages, technology driven
Kept forever, or erased in an instant
Inflections lost, context mulled
Mind fills in the gaps, misconceptions, reciprocity unmet

Words rattle around in my head
Tortured thoughts, hidden stories, vivid imagination
Begging to be shared in any medium
For anyone to partake and savor

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