Spoken word has developed a dedicated audience, along with a strong voice over recent years. Often, it has been used as a key tool in delivering a message, through rhythm, rhyme and concrete language. The lasting impression, is found in the silence of the audience.
Similar to its harsher yet also verbal cousin hip hop, spoken word has generally offered up its messages in a less aggressive manner, with a more theoretical and oratory influence. Indeed, spoken word does not always follow the traditional rules of poetry. It may be used to tell a story, unfold a drama or even tell a joke. The audience favourite though? A hard hitting message. The freedom of expression allowed within spoken word means the fluidity of words is not bound to an enclosed definition of what spoken word is.
"Well, spoken word chose me".
Meet Brooklyn poet Shane Romero. A performer from the get go, spoken word has become a way of life.
"Hip hop was my life, but for some reason I never had the desire to be a rapper. Hip hop is poetry. So when I would be listening to hip hop and writing I was really heavy with the imagery, using metaphors and similes. I loved spitting poetry with the freedom of no beat. So to me spoken word gave me a balance for my love of performing and writing."
Romero brings his poetic oratory together with a white background: he only wants you to hear the words. With a great focus on the language, his spoken words usually tends to focus on the words themselves, the dynamics of tone, facial expressions and body language. Actions, sometimes speak far louder in a performance.
Just like any art form, the motivation comes through inspiration. As expected, his muse can be found in every aspect of life, "there is never a limitation on what can inspire you...but curly haired girls are a super big inspiration".
The want to create a story through painting a picture with words is not something everyone can do: one may be a writer, but not be able to do so in such a splendid way as that of the spoken word art form. The words roll off the tongue as though overflowing from a now unlocked dictionary. They pour and pour and pour. His words are not just meant to be heard, they're meant to be felt too. The importance of such an art? To move the world.
"Art keeps the world spinning. Look at the major turning events within the world: from the economic crisis, to war. When the people were down, art was there to make the world better". An abstract medicine.
Thanks to the internet, spoken word poetry and its popularity is growing in huge numbers. Each day a new artist appears, joining the already strong and talented body of work available. Romero makes clear that spoken word poetry plays a huge role in expression, "it's an outlet for people to free what builds up in their chest. It provides a degree of peace". His fan base is ever growing in this age of social media and networking, yet it hasn't always been easy for him. In his earlier days, Romero did not have the luxury of an internet domain to gain fans.
"The fact that I can spit a poem here in Brooklyn, and by the next day hundreds of people across the world have seen the same poem because someone posted it on the internet, is something". The internet provides a platform for the voices to be heard, whatever country and language. It keeps the poetry alive and creates a community of individuals who share and inspire one another.
Like any artist who is passionate about their craft, Romero wishes to elevate his success further. "I want to continue to do things with poetry that no one ever thought was possible. Ha Ha I always say I want to be the "Jay-Z" of poetry because the way he turned nothing into something that a lot of people still can't comprehend to this day is amazing. That's what I want to do. I want to sell out Madison Square Garden or the London Coliseum. I want to tour the whole UK first then tackle the rest of the world."
The work of a spoken word artist extends way beyond the boundaries of a printed page. The delivery of the work being just as important as the structure of the written word. It's a performance piece intended for an audience and the emphasis is on the reaction received. No one performance mirrors the other.
Poetry deserves a stage like it once did in ancient times, from the Greeks to Shakespeare. It has been given a new light and perspective, and perhaps now a new stage to go along with it. Like the cheering fans of a Rock star, poetry and its performers need a spotlight. A very bright one at that.
"I love giving and giving knowledge is such a great reward".
Follow Shane Romero on twitter at @ShaneH_H or subscribe to his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/blssdwitwordz1