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Whether you like poetry or not, prepare to be blown away. Poetry is more than just flowery language from an archaic time; it’s a way to express deep truths that transcend words and rhythm. Spoken word in particular is one of the most powerful forms of poetry today and these videos provide more than enough evidence of that.

“Remember How We Forgot”

This spoken word by Shane Koyczan is a wonderful reminder of our childhood and what we might have lost over the years. In this moving piece, Koyczan explores his childhood experiences — many of which we might have shared with him in our own little ways – and laments how differently we view the world once we lose our childlike sense of wonder.

It’s not as dark or depressing as I’ve made it sound. In fact, this performance ends on a high note full of inspiration and motivation. The message is clear: let us not forget that we are each individuals with our own passions and let us remember to live as if we were truly alive.

“Mathematics”

In this piece, Holly McNish thoughtfully arranges a short story that explores the topic of immigration and xenophobia. Despite the politically-charged nature of the subject, she presents a clear and thoughtful stance that ought to ring true with all of us. I’m not one to concern myself with political debate, but this spoken word goes beyond that.

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There’s a bit of mild cussing in this one so if you have sensitive ears, you should be wary of that before hitting play. I think it’s worth the watch even so.

“Knock Knock”

Here’s a spoken word that strikes deep to the core, appealing to the inner children within all of us who have ever struggled in our identity apart from our parents. Daniel Beaty recounts his experiences as the son of a prisoner and his lessons are words of wisdom for us all.

The ending might be a bit too saccharine for some, but I found his words both encouraging and motivational. Even if you think the message is a bit corny and idealistic, you can still appreciate the way in which he strings his words together and weaves a short tale. Brilliant.

“I Will Not Let Exam Results Decide My Fate”

The education system here in the US often takes center stage under the crosshairs of my peers. No system is perfect, of course, but there is a flaw that sits deep in the core of many education systems today. In this piece, Suli Breaks explores the question: if we’re all individuals with unique desires, passions, and skills, then why doesn’t the education system recognize that?

My takeaway from this was NOT that tests are inherently bad but that perhaps education needs a paradigm shift at its core. This piece should be especially powerful to those who have always just assumed that schooling is the way it is because “it’s always been that way.” Maybe it’s time for a change.

“What Teachers Make”

This is what happens when your life is driven by passion. With every word uttered, Taylor Mali oozes raw energy and pain — not a self-centered pain but a pain for those around him who can’t see that character, integrity, and honesty are more important than simply making money for the sake of it.

It’s easy to walk away from this video with a higher respect for teachers — at least for the teachers who truly believe in what they do and live to transform the lives of their students, not just teach to a test in order to look good before their peers. Real teachers who have a heart for their students are rare to find these days.

Are you a fan of the spoken word? If you know of any particularly outstanding videos that weren’t mentioned in this list, please share them with us in the comments.

Image Credits: dualdflipflop Via Flickr

  1. Donny Duke
    February 25, 2016 at 7:31 am

    https://archive.org/details/RainbowAsARadicalWithIslamicState

    a video poem that will touch your soul.

  2. Matthew H
    February 3, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    You forgot Mark Grist - Girls Who Read.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmEbF2uhsZk

    • Joel L
      February 16, 2014 at 8:34 am

      Wow, that was great! The video was good as well. Loved it and agree with it. :)

  3. Jordan
    February 2, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Gotta include Anis Mojgani!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qDtHdloK44

  4. Kay F
    February 1, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0snNB1yS3IE

    I watched it several times, but I never was able to stop listening...

    • HomeCookingRocks
      February 1, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Thank you Kay F, I enjoyed that.

    • Joel L
      February 16, 2014 at 8:31 am

      That was pretty powerful. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Stef V
    February 1, 2014 at 8:30 am

    I really like the Commencement Speech of Steve Jobs at Stanford University 2005.

  6. Karama O
    February 1, 2014 at 3:56 am

    I think the first piece was wonderful! :)

  7. JP
    February 1, 2014 at 2:17 am

    I was touched and I cried. If it didn't touch your soul maybe your gate is too old, too cold, so high.

    • Joel L
      February 16, 2014 at 8:30 am

      I'm glad you were impacted in such a way. :)

  8. Guy M
    February 1, 2014 at 12:19 am

    I'm a big fan of much of Henry Rollins spoken word performances. I don't always agree with him, but he does make me think about my feelings on many different issues. Even changed my mind a few times.

    There's also a fine line between spoken word and stand-up comedy. A lot of George Carlin, Bill Hicks, and a few others have bits that are poetic and challenging. Good article! Makes me think.

    • Joel L
      February 16, 2014 at 8:30 am

      I've had that same thought regarding spoken word and stand-up before. The best comedians really do have a strong grasp of language, knowing how to string words in the right order to evoke an effect on the audience. Very poetic indeed!

  9. C J
    January 31, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    They're nice but they didn't touch my soul.

    • Joey
      February 20, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      Maybe you don't have any.... ;)

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