Spoken Word Poetry

With the excellent example of Amanda Gorman reciting her poem during this year’s Inauguration, I have a feeling there will be an uptick of interest in authoring and performing spoken word poetry. Of course, spoken word poetry has experienced waves of popularity over the years as you can read in this article from 2020, or see in this collection of videos from Edutopia in 2014. But, as Professor Kathleen M. Alley states, “When I heard Amanda Gorman recite her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Biden’s inauguration, I instantly decided to throw my plans for the week out the window. I hope teachers throughout the nation will similarly be willing to put their regular lesson plans aside in order to seize the opportunity to use the poetry of Gorman to engage with students who are not much younger in age.”

To begin a unit on spoken word poetry, a teacher might use one of Amanda Gorman’s videos, a selection from the Edutopia link above, or perhaps one from this list curated by Amanda Cardenas. You can find advice on writing spoken word poetry from Masterclass, writer Tonya Thompson, and educator Shannon Reed. Lesson plans include this one from Facing History and one from Remake Learning – both of which weave in social justice topics – or this one from Read Write Think that approaches it with a bilingual perspective.

In case you missed this one in Amy Erin Borovoy’s Edutopia article, the video below shows that spoken word poetry can be written and performed by students at any age level. While younger children may not have the polished presentation style of an Amanda Gorman, they make up for this with their enthusiastic gestures and unusual choices for topics!

I will be adding this post to my Wakelet of poetry resources – all available to you for National Poetry Month in April!

Kenyanshilling, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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