Spoken Word

I found my new love, Spoken Word Poetry. It is one of the literary forms I am very addictive of. I enjoy listening to Spoken Word Poetry as much as I enjoy listening to latest pop songs. I know the word “poetry” sounds intimidating as if it belongs to a subculture. Our notion is that poetry is for people who study literature, who read works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Oscar Wilde. If not, it is for people who pretend they can write or pretend they are well-read. But Spoken Word Poetry is different. It can  appeal to a large audience. It can be very entertaining.

Spoken Word Poetry is written to be performed on stage. It is written for both the ears and the eyes. I like this medium of self-expression because it combines storytelling, theater, and poetry. Unlike poems published, it is more palatable and conversational. Trust me, it is not a difficult art to appreciate. I am not a good listener and I have short attention span but I manage to listen an 18-minute performance while I am doing other tasks.

Here are some of  my favorite performances.  I am not going to explain and describe further  because I want you to watch and discover the beauty of Spoken Word Poetry.

OCD by Neil Hilborn

This video has been viral.  Watch this  and you will understand why the world fell in love with this poem. It is about a man who has obsessive compulsive disorder. And I am very much obsessed with this guy. My heart broke after I heard the last line.

Love Poem Medley by Rudy Francisco

I love this guy! He is very witty and funny. He has a lot of cheesy lines.

I heard that love is blind so, I write all my poems in braille

And my poems are never actually finished because true love is endless

Touchscreen by Marshal Soulful Jones

If you spend more than eight hours on the internet, always take photos of the food you eat, make friends in Yahoo chatroom and Skype, this is for you.

One Color by Neil Hilborn and Renee Schminkey 

If ever Reproductive Health Bill should be discussed again, this poetry should be heard.

But was never  taught that there are worse things that could happen than a baby or a disease.

Shrinking Women by Lily Myers

As you know, I have soft spot on issues about women. This girl described struggles of women in conforming to gender norms.

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Looking for Philippine Folk Tales?

I’m part of a  new small storytelling group in Manila.  For my piece, I want something unique, something not so familiar among kids. We probably know a lot of western children stories and a lot of Grimm’s fairy tales.  For this reason, I prefer to use a Filipino story. The problem with Filipino children stories or must I say Philippine literature in general. They are not available on the internet.  You’ll probably find a few but very limited. You have to go to libraries and book stores to find one. Luckily, I  found this book in National Book Store. It is a collection of Philippine folk tales about fruits.  It has eight stories. Some of which are  popular ones such as Why the Pina Has a Hundred Eyes, How the Lasones Became Edible, Why the Mango is Shaped Like a Hear, The Story of First Coconut Tree. 

It  astounds me that I only get to know some of these tales as an adult such as  The Story of the First Durian,  Why the Guava Wears a Crown, The Story of the First Banana Plant,  The Legend of the First Makopa Tree.  With this kind of books, there is no excuse to repeat the same stories to children. We have a lot of stories.  We just lack exposure. We, who are stoytellers, teachers, and adults can promote the richness of  Philippine children literature.  And stories feel  closer to us  if the subjects are very familiar to us such  the fruits we regularly eat such as banana, pineapple, and coconut.

This  book suits all ages but smaller kids may not pay much attention. The illustrations are colorless and the characters do no look  cute-like creatures in Cartoon Network.  It is written in a simple language. It is easy to understand, easy to memorize but it is not playful. Hence, if you are reading this  out loud in front of kids, you should be more creative in your delivery.

Philippine Children Books

If you are running out of children stories, go back to folk tales 🙂

Alternative Pastime for Your Ears

Are you tired of listening to the same playlist in your media player? Watched the same music videos in Youtube? If music starts to be deafening, you can have this as an alternative pastime for your ears.

In my quiet moments, I browse videos of TEDx. For those of you who don’t know, “TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event. ” It carries a tagline  ” ideas worth sharing.”

I enjoy listening to speeches that are well crafted.  After all,  I finished a degree in Speech Communication. But I must admit that I have short attention span. Sometimes, I end up daydreaming after listening the first five minutes of   a lecture, a sermon, and a group discussion.  Well, listening to TEDx speeches is different. They are easy on the ears, that you forget you spent nine minutes listening. You can do it while working and browsing in the internet. Here are some of my favorites.

Craig Walzer – Artful Lies and Shelves of Fiction

On one vacation in Santorin, Greece, two American boys  looked for a bookshop but could not find one. This sprout the idea of building a bookshop.  After Craig graduated, he went back to Greece and  built a bookshop where people can read, tell stories, and make bonfires in the evening.

Cameron Russell –  Image is powerful

I admired this woman for being brutally honest about the modeling industry.  Her talk in TEDx has become viral and controversial. There are a lot of negative comments but I bet they don’t get her point. She does not sugarcoat, like showbiz people do.  She said: ” The real way that I became a model is that I won a genetic lottery, and I am the recipient of a legacy. What do I mean by legacy? Well, for the past few centuries we have defined beauty not just as health and youth and symmetry that we’re biologically programmed to admire, but also as tall, slender figures, and femininity and white skin. And this is a legacy that was built for me, and it’s a legacy that I’ve been cashing in on.”

Jarrett J. Krosoczka – How a boy became an artist

He is an illustrator and writer of children’s books. He has sense of humor and overflowing passion. This video brings me smiles.

Sabsy Ongkiko: Our Return of Investment

In the Philippines, my favorite TED talk is a speech of a public school teacher. She graduated in one of top universities in the Philippines. In spite of having outstanding credentials, she preferred to work as a  public school teacher. She is very inspiring. I was in tears while listening to her speech.  I know there are a lot of young leaders who want to make a difference  in the country but she is different from the rest.   Some do good and some fight for a cause because in return they will get merit and credit for what they do. On the other hand, this woman is  a genuine modern day hero. You can tell through her speech that she gives her service not for self-fulfillment sake.

Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter

Sarah Kay is a spoken word poet. She is a captivating speaker. I recommend not only her TEDx video but all her videos. You will cling to every word she says.

“It’s not that I think that spoken word poetry is the ideal art form. I’m always trying to find the best way to tell each story. I write musicals; I make short films alongside my poems. But I teach spoken word poetry because it’s accessible. Not everyone can read music or owns a camera, but everyone can communicate in some way, and everyone has stories that the rest of us can learn from. Plus, spoken word poetry allows for immediate connections. It’s not uncommon for people to feel like they’re alone or that nobody understands them, but spoken word teaches that if you have the ability to express yourself and the courage to present those stories and opinions, you could be rewarded with a room full of your peers, or your community, who will listen. “

I hope you get to watch these videos. I’m sure you’ll find far more interesting videos from TEDx. It’s a treasure box of ideas.

Storytelling and Wishful Thinking

Our human mind may have some limit in  mathematics, science, logic but when it comes to imagination,the brain knows no boundaries. That’s the beauty of wishful thinking. It eliminates obstacles. I  realize that you should never estimate ‘wishful thinking’ because as what they said, “Thoughts becomes things. ” Hold on to  your wish list and be careful what you wish for.

One of  the things included in my wish list  is to perform storytelling in a big venue. I even wrote this down last year  on my blog post. I said, “I don’t just want to read a book in front of the kids. I want performance level. (hehe) I want to wear a costume and do some little effects.”

st8

Like a prophecy fulfilled,  I joined a new storytelling group, Storyhouse. It was founded by Jay Menes.  He  is the first Filipino member of International Storytelling Network Red Internacional de Cuentacuentos.

st5nI support the cause of this group, no matter how small and how informal this group is. For one thing, this is a breath of fresh air. We often see storytellers hold a book but with Storyhouse, storytellers don’t read aloud. The storyteller’s body is his main medium.

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Also, it’s one way of going back to our literary roots. Oral interpretation was one of earliest forms of entertainment. The kings and laymen hired minstrels.  Shakespeare’s long lines on stage were palatable. Poets were heard everywhere, not only in an English Literature class. Popular epics  across the world such as Iliad and Biag ni Lam-ang were passed by mouth not through a movie screen. Our Muslim brothers have rich literature in oral tradition. Today, these are replaced by movies, TV shows, and video games. We want something that’s easy on the senses.   Listening like reading requires additional neurons of our brain to paint a picture. I guess that’s how oral tradition stopped becoming a tradition. And with the aid of printing press, the presence of a storyteller is no longer significant.  This is the challenge of a storyteller: How to steal three to five minutes from modern human beings who have short attention span in listening.

I only wished to perform in a book store but never did I think of storytelling in a museum. We did our storytelling in Museo Pambata. That is the ideal place to perform if your target audience are kids. It was not my best storytelling act but that was a good start.

st6I told the story of the first banana plant

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