Spoken Word on the Rise at RMU

Guitar chords blare from the speakers as the artist, clutching a piece of paper, stands back, waiting to take the stage. Once the song is over, he steps to the mic and lets his emotions flow out with every inflection that he speaks.

What was once just a poem written down in a notebook has become more; it is now a spoken art form. It is spoken word.

As more artists take the stage, a whole new variety of performance is being discovered. Spoken word, which was popular on college campuses in the 1980s, according to SpokenOak, a website dedicated to the art, is popping up once again at RMU’s weekly Open Mic Night hosted on campus every Tuesday in the Nicholson Food Court at 9 p.m.

It is important to know that multiple definitions are used to describe spoken word. SpokenOak explains that is was first used to “lump together” anything that did not fit into the already well-established categories of performance.

Chauncey Terrell Alexander, a communication and advertising major, who found spoken word after watching YouTube videos while trying to find a way to express his emotions through his poems, explains it as poetry off paper.

“It’s more what you feel rather than what you wrote,” he said.

He also stated that a spoken word artist cannot perform another person’s piece because they would be unable to convey the emotions that are infused when it is written down.

Since Alexander began performing spoken word at Open Mic Night last March, more students have followed and began using this form of expression.

Andrew Dickson, a junior communication and public relations major, recently began performing at Open Mic Nights.

“It means poetry that is spoken,” he explained, “and when you speak it kind of adds an emphasis to things that you wouldn’t get if you read it.”

Dickson also adds that he has been writing poetry for a while, but the idea of performing came after attempting raps for fun. He took this motivation to become one of the many to perform this art form.

When it comes to the inspiration for these pieces, Dickson says he gets his from his stream of consciousness entirely.

“I feel very relieved every time I do it,” he said. “It really just takes away stress.”

He is not alone for using this as a stress release.

Like Dickson, Alexander also uses it to as a way to release stress.

“It’s picking at scabs basically,” he explained, as he uses spoken word to express his emotions on past events in his life. “I feel like writing it, first of all, helps me relieve that stress, but then speaking it helps me get it all off my chest.”

In the long run, these artists are already seeing the perks of performing spoken words.

“I’ve gotten a lot better at conveying my emotions,” Alexander stated.

Dickson also adds that he is already seeing the benefits of performing after just his second performance.

“I always liked to write, but I never could do it for money or anything, but this is honestly just as fun. It’s really just a lot of fun.”