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How to Gain Recognition in the Spoken Word and Slam Poetry Community By Vangile Makwakwa


If you are a published poet and are new to the performance poetry or spoken word poetry it can be quite intimidating to actually go up on stage and perform your work or meet other poets.

You can have the most amazing poems but if no one gets to read them or hear them, they will never touch anyone’s heart or change a life.

Here are some ways to get noticed in the spoken word community or at least work up the courage to start performing:

      • Share your writings with some spoken word poets

This could be as simple as connecting with some poets that you met on Facebook and tagging them in a note. This is really scary in its own way because it opens up your soul to different people but most times have nice things to say and are flattered by the gesture.

      • Join a meetup group or other online group

I like the thought of joining poetry meetup groups (there are 302 groups in 193 cities globally) because you can actually meet people in person for drinks and discuss things you like. Most times at a slam venue, I find a lot of people very focused on their performance and many strategies but if you are just starting out on this journey it may be best to keep it informal and a virtual space may help with that as well.

      • Befriend other poets and learn from them

Birds of a feather flock together. Go to a show, network and get to know the spoken word and slam poets you really admire. If you befriend really popular slam poets you can pick up a lot about the tricks of the trade and learn different performance techniques, learn how to land a feature, book a venue etc – learning all this will help you gain recognition within the industry.

      • Perform at an open mic

My very first open mic performance in the US was at the Nuyorican where I forgot all my words to my poem and had to start from scratch but I am glad I did it. This may sound intimidating but it is the easiest way to get to meet other poets in your local community and to start getting recognition for your work. Do a short piece to start off with and then keep doing longer and longer pieces as you become comfortable on stage. Whatever you do, I really suggest performing at an open mic – the thought of it is scarier than the reality but you will be glad you did it

    • Enter a slam poetry contest

I admit this is still intimidating to me no matter how often I do a slam. It’s scary to have people judge your poetry and to put yourself out like that but at some point you are going to have to do it. Most really good poets today started off as slam poets. Slam poetry has its bad points but it also has some good points – the competitive aspect can make you a better writer and performer. Winning a slam can also gain you recognition within the community.

Please feel free to share any insights and suggestions in the comment box below.

Vangile Makwakwa, is a poet and writer with an MBA and an entrepreneurship certificate from the Simmons School of management and is the founder of Speak 2B Free, a company that promotes poets and storytellers globally by providing them with the tools and resources to market themselves. Poets and storytellers can easily reach their audiences by going to the Speak 2B Free website: http://www.speak2bfree.com/ and sharing their written work, MP3s, videos and events with a global network of poets and storytellers.

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