Saturday, February 01, 2014

Resources for Aspiring Spoken Word Artists

(from the La Crosse Tribune, Peter Thomson)
A big part of my work is artist-in-residence gigs, and a big part of THAT work is making sure that I don't just work in a school for a week and then disappear forever. I want to make sure students have access to further resources and ways to plug into the culture. 

So with that in mind, I thought I'd centralize a few different resources that I use. Hopefully these can be useful for aspiring artists, but also educators, teaching artists, and anyone looking to dive into spoken word culture.

10 Things Everyone Should Know About Spoken Word and Slam Poetry
A good start.

My Video Series on Spoken Word Tips, Tools, and Tactics.
Just sharing some ideas that have been helpful to me as a writer and performer. More videos on the way.
  • Intro/Five Things I Look for in Poems
  • On Concrete Language, Specificity, and Turning Ideas into Poems
  • Spoken Word Performance Tips and a Note on "Poet Voice"
  • On "Diving In" and Getting Involved with Spoken Word
  • On Revision
Six Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Getting Started as an Artist
A few more tips, tools, and tactics.

My List of Spoken Word Videos that I Like
Poets need to read. MCs need to listen to hip hop. Spoken-word artists need to read, and listen, and watch, and experience the world in many ways. This is a list of what I think are good intro-to-slam pieces, some of the best spoken-word you can find online, plus a few I just think are interesting for various reasons.

My Own Spoken Word Videos
Aside from the previous list, here is a list of all of my stuff. A lot of the pieces on this list I don't use in schools because maybe they contain cursing or more explicitly political content or whatever, but if any student wants to see more of my work, it's all here.

Button Poetry: A Treasure Trove of Spoken Word Videos
The Button folks basically travel around to different spoken-word events and film stuff. It's that simple, and their YouTube channel has some of the best spoken-word you can find online, much of it new work filmed for the first time.

A List of Open Mics and Poetry Slams in the Twin Cities
Since a lot of my work takes place in or around the TC, I want to make sure people know about the MANY opportunities that exist to perform. Many of these events are all-ages, too. The best way to get into spoken-word is to GO TO events, meet people, watch, listen, maybe perform. Even if you're not in the Twin Cities area, there are probably similar events near you.

Youth Spoken Word in MN:
If you're a young person in Minnesota interested in spoken-word or hip hop, be sure to bookmark this page and check back for updates. TruArtSpeaks runs the Be Heard slam series, which feeds into Brave New Voices. They also organize readings, workshops and much more.

Youth Spoken-Word Nationally: YouthSpeaks & Brave New Voices
YouthSpeaks is a leader in the youth spoken-word movement nationally , and you can find a bunch of Brave New Voices footage at this link.

Bring Me to Your School
I visit schools for assembly performances, class visits & Q&A sessions, and in-depth week-long residencies. If it's in MN, I work with COMPAS; if not, you can contact me directly:

I'm also working on getting some of the lessons I do online in some form. Should also probably do a reading list at some point. If you have any good resources to share, feel free to leave a comment!


Josh Hardman said...

Guante, thanks so much for sharing these resources. I hope to begin writing and this will be invaluable. A quick question, if you have the time... Is rhyming important? I wrote something last night and the lines rhymed... It seemed like I was forcing it a little.

Guante said...

Hey-- that's a great question, and I would say NO, poetry does not have to rhyme. Rhyme is just a tool, and some poems use it while others don't. If you listen to any of my spoken-word stuff, almost none of it rhymes. So yeah, rhyming can be useful, or can be a challenge, but if you feel that the rhymes are forced, I'd definitely encourage you to take a break from rhyming and just write in a way that feels natural for you.

Josh Hardman said...

Thanks for replying!
Okay, I will try writing without and see where it leaves me - it's daunting trying to find a style, but I guess I've just gotta dive head-first into it.