Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spoken Word Poetry

About a month ago, I spent the afternoon with girls who had been dealt some hard life experiences. My task was to lead a "Life Skills" class that would engage them, which was hard to plan since I barely knew them. Still, I was hopeful and wanted to connect.

In the last few years, I've begun listening to spoken word poetry - basically whatever I can get my hands on. It's amazing the amount of hours you can spend on YouTube when you're going down the rabbit hole. I have begun to have a collection of favorite poets and have been inspired by their honesty and often subtle wit.

There is something courageous about telling your story, but we all don't share the same way. In a society that is so concerned about image and conformity, a single voice can get muffled. This is particularly true if that person is already part of a marginalized group. Spoken word shows up on this scene as a advocacy tool and even megaphone, often sharing brokenness or outrage through art.

As I began this group, I brought some of the videos, excited to see the response, even believing that these girls would appreciate them as much as I do. What happened changed me though. The girls participated, but not with the thrill I thought they would, until they got to share their own. As I showed them a video I had found to be life-giving, they pointed out the ways they liked it but also where they didn't connect. But, they lit up as they played the ones they loved. I found myself learning from videos I would probably not have watched, except by their insistence. And, I was thankful. As I watched, their voices became stronger and bolder. And, they were beautiful.