Spoken Word, or more specifically Christian Spoken Word, is an oral form of Bible engagement utilising free form or slam poetry. Popular with millennials, it integrates word play, beat, reiteration, voice inflection, hip-hop, modulation, music, prose monologues, or even comedy, to present/perform the Word.
While Spoken Word is a form of poetry, there are four elements that differentiate it from other forms of poetry: It’s written for performance, the themes are biblical, it should be challenging and should involve some acting.
Performed, biblical and challenging. “The ‘blessed are the underdogs’ message of Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount – had it been filmed for YouTube – would certainly have gone viral. Particularly if he’d performed it in rhyme. Jesus was all about new messages in new ways – speaking from boats and atop mountains and from his friends’ living rooms – and always with an epistle intended to make his congregation think about the accepted status quo.” Spoken Word Applied to the Word – Premier.
So what are some of the basics of Spoken Word? My daughter, Christie Warren, writes, performs and teaches Spoken Word. I learnt the following at one of her workshops:
- involves rhythm and repetition that produces a “flow”
- can be set against a musical background
- presentation should be dramatic
- words should be emphasized to bring a focus to the theme
- there should be a clear message that invokes a response
- can utilize visual images
- it’s not a rigid form of poetry
- it’s not necessary to follow grammatical rules
- be creative!
- can be presented in a church service, as a street drama, or in any suitable public forum
“Oh Taste and See” by Christie Warren
O taste and see that the Lord is good.
Would be a waste
Of the sweetness of His words
Or so I’ve heard
And see, apparently,
They’re sweeter than honey
And more desirable than gold
Or so I’m told.
But if you have truly tasted of the kindness of the Lord
It’ll surely strike a chord
And certainly afford
The opportunity to become
The salt of the earth.
For one cannot simply taste
And not wanna chase
Run the race
While fixing one’s eyes on Jesus
See that He is good
No other thought will do
No other can be true
So how can we continue
To live our lives this way
When He’s shifted our perspective
When everything has changed
How can we put up this facade
And play with full bravado
And silently just plod, plod, plod
Through this life?
We have to take a stand
We have to actually be His feet and hands.
For when we taste and when we see
We’re changed eternally
And I, for one, can’t simply let that be
And here’s one for you to watch:
© Scripture Union Canada 2016