With the recent gradual but steady increase in Poetry and Spoken Word events in Nigeria, it might be necessary to re-evaluate and re-define the Business of Spoken Word Poetry.

Let’s start by defining the basics

What is a Business?

  1. A person’s regular occupation, profession, or trade, work, line of work, occupation, profession, career, employment, day job, position, pursuit, vocation, calling, field, sphere, walk of life, trade, craft etc.
  2. Commercial activity: trade, trading, commerce, buying and selling, dealing, traffic, trafficking, marketing, merchandising, bargaining etc. (Web/ Online definition).

What is Spoken Word Poetry?

Spoken word poetry is poetry that is written on a page but performed for an audience. Because it is performed, this poetry tends to demonstrate a heavy use of rhythm, improvisation, free association, rhymes, rich poetic phrases, word play and slang. (Web/ Online definition).

Based on the above, the business of spoken word poetry can be interpreted thus:

Any and all commercial activities involving Spoken Word Poetry or the Marketing, Trading, buying and selling of Poetry craft.

Going by this definition, it will be unreasonable to limit the Business of Spoken Word Poetry to only the performance of the art. We can break down the business of this art form into these categories below:

  • Poetry Event Organisation: basically has to do with conceptualizing, planning and coordinating poetry events. The major income sources are usually sponsorship and ‎gate fees
  • Marketing and Promotion (i.e. publicity and advertising) of the poets and the events: The assumption here is that the poet has been discovered, groomed and primed. This sector might not necessarily organize events, but partner with various platforms ensuring that the poetry events are well publicized and attended. The major income sources are usually fees which can be a percentage of the sponsorship deal(s) and/or ‎gate fees.
  • Training School/ Development Centers for performance poetry and Spoken Word Poetry: This will be to discover, groom and prime poetry talents for the big stage. The would be poets are usually trained and taught for a prize. The school would also provide various platforms for the poets to exhibit what they have been taught.
  • Poetry Performance on stage: the main income source here is the performance fees. Along the line, we can have poets do brand endorsement/ ambassadorship.
  • Poet’s Manager/ Agent: the these people help to market and promote the poets and also to get gigs, jobs, performance, brand endorsement/ ambassadorship, caller tunes etc. for the poets. They are there to look out for the interest of the poets and thus earn a percentage of the poet’s performance fees and other related deals.
  • Merchandising: The assumption here is that the poet and the poetry brand is well-known over and above the poetry circuits. Thus, we can have sale of branded items like tee shirts, and other fashion items, partnership with brands and partnership with companies.
  • Digital Media: this is basically the recording the poet’s work on CD and DVD for sale. It also includes the recording, production and packaging of a Poetry TV and/or Radio show to earn revenue via advert placements. We can also include the writing and sale of Poetry Books in this category.
  • Mobile: this can be defined along the lines of Mobile computing and Big Data.
  • What is Big Data? These are extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions. (Web/ Online definition).
  • What is Mobile Computing? Mobile computing is human–computer interaction by which a computer is expected to be transported during normal usage. Mobile computing involves mobile communication, mobile hardware, and mobile software. (Web/ Online definition).

However, it is important to note that most of these categories listed above are not readily and clearly defined for now, as the poetry industry is still at the nascent stage of development (in Nigeria), neither is the possible categorization of the Business of Spoken Word Poetry limited to only the categories listed above.

The Spoken Word Poetry industry is a potential foreign exchange earner for the poets, related parties and even for the country. It is imperative that ongoing efforts in developing this industry is intensified, regardless of differences in ideology.

After all, the sky is big enough for all birds to fly.




Olumide Holloway

A Poetprenuer, Poetry event promoter and organiser.

Follow @olulu4ever

Email : olulu4ever@gmail.com

Call: +2348025070892, +2348038315055

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