I found myself having to answer this hundreds of time. My usual answer is “Every poem I read aloud is spoken word poetry, and every poem I write down is page poetry.”
A standard response that I hope tries to dispel the tropes connected to “spoken word” and (hopefully) begins a conversation around the oral/aural aspects of poetry.
I don’t know if I always do a good job in trying to create that dialogue and help the curious individual flesh out their expectation for “spoken word” poetry, but I do push them to read and listen to poets who successfully bridge the divide between “poetry” and “spoken word.” One of those poets is Willie Perdomo.
Willie’s ability to enrapture an audience, any audience, with a straight forward style that involves sitting down on a comfortable stool, reciting the work straight from the book, and letting the deep narrative descriptors, captured conversations, and the musicality of his verse, do the work has been the measure I’ve aspired to for years.
For a little more thought on his writing process and his personal definition of spoken word, check this interview.
[haiku url=”http://www.arts.cornell.edu/reading/perdomo300807.mp3″ Title”Writers at Cornell: Interview with Willie Perdomo”]
MP3 is courtesy of the Writers at Cornell blog.