Harnessing the Power of the Spoken Word

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  • With a background in languages and alternative education, Roshnii is a writer, creative, mother and mentor, who left the city to live off-grid, closer to the land.

Spoken word: Warm, funny, stark, harsh and flowing. Performers speaking truths that we shun as taboo. Words and images that roll together and bring a tear to your eye, a lump to your throat.

A potent platform that pulls back the curtains to look at inconvenient truths and explore possible solutions; ways forward; gifts of hope.

Searching for spoken word poetry on YouTube is like opening a Pandora’s box. Be ready to hear some of the most raw and real performance art out there. Often addressing touchy topics such as social justice, racism, and gender, with uncensored tongues, this art form is not about being pretty or comfortable.

In his poem, ‘A poet’s plea to save our planet’, spoken word artist, In-Q, assesses the ecological crisis and contemplates the shift that we might achieve if we change the language that we use around our relationship to the planet.

In-Q, or In-Question, is a Californian poet and songwriter who is said to have brought poetry to pop culture. He describes his poetry as a reflection of his own experiences and life lessons.

Alina Siegfried, whose article recently featured here, is a writer and performance poet aka Ali Jacs. Her thought-provoking work weaves ancient storytelling and poetry to address modern-day social, ecological and economic challenges.

This poem, Humanity Stands, is an invitation to step onto the precipice and take a leap into the future that humanity can carve. A glimpse towards what is possible if we, collectively, make the necessary choices for a brighter, cooperative, just future for ourselves, as part of a flourishing natural world.

I will soon be chatting with Alina about her creative work and its potential as a tool for systems change. Stay tuned to our website and social media feeds for more info on the upcoming interview.

When I started delving into the world of youth slam poetry, such as the international Brave New Voices Festival, hosted in the US, I was blown away by the power unleashed through the voices of young people from around the world. Here is an example of the moving ferocity of a group performance.

Also hailing from Aotearoa, Ngā Hinepūkōrero are a group of four young Māori women (three of whom appear in this video) who use spoken word poetry to bring light to the social realities that their people face.

In this piece, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, they speak to the shattering history of the indigenous Maori community and the loss and revival of their native language.

Like its ancestor, oral storytelling, spoken word poetry is striking in its simplicity. Nothing more is needed other than the speaker and the voice. Through meaning and tone, it speaks in an unequivocal language that is not just understood by the mind, but felt by the ancient heart of the listener.

There are so many more poets and their words to discover that I am sure we will be revisiting this medium with more posts and events.

If you are a performance poet tackling systems change topics, we want to hear from you. Share you work on our Community Forum or get in touch at [email protected].


  • With a background in languages and alternative education, Roshnii is a writer, creative, mother and mentor, who left the city to live off-grid, closer to the land.

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