Spoken word poet Kai Davis in performance

It’s World Poetry Day, So Here Are Five Awesome Women Whose Spoken Word Will Leave You Wanting More

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Today is World Poetry Day, and while poetry as a genre isn’t necessarily doing the booming business it used to, it still has a beloved place in the world, especially as mostly young, mostly female poets take one of the world’s oldest art forms and filter it through a modern lens.

There are, of course, those who publish poetry traditionally, usually through chapbooks produced by small presses, and if you’re thinking about checking some out, I’d recommend the talented Luiza Flynn-Goodlett, whose book Unseasonable Weather just came out this year from Dancing Girl Press.

There’s also the popular poet and Instagram presence, Rupi Kaur, who’s turned her social media feeds into art, using beautiful images to back up her equally beautiful words.

However, the thing that will really cause me to go down a YouTube rabbit hole of epic proportions is spoken word poetry. That said, here are five of my favorite performances from female spoken word artists I love:

Kai Davis: “Fuck I Look Like!”
This amped screed against assumptions demonstrates that whether it’s coming from outside your community, or from within it, having people tell you who you should or shouldn’t be is not okay. For more work and info, check out her website.

Sarah Kay: “B”
Kay has been performing since she was a wee tyke, hanging out at places like the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC when she was way too young, but the poetry muse called her, and she answered. This one’s an oldie, but a goodie, featuring advice she’d give to her future daughter. Check out her website HERE.

Sierra Demulder: “Paper Dolls”
In this fierce piece, Demulder analyzes the narratives we are constantly fed regarding how women “should” talk about their own sexual assaults. For more of her work, visit HERE.

Yellow Rage: “Listen, Asshole”
This one’s from Def Poetry Jam. Remember that show? I miss it. Anyway, Michelle Myers and Catzie Vilayphonh make up the spoken word duo Yellow Rage, proving once and for all that Asian women are not here to be submissive to anybody. Keep up with them over HERE.

Vanessa Hidary: “The Hebrew Mamita”
And I’ll close out with another one from the Def Poetry Jam archives. Vanessa Hidary brings the diversity of all the cultures she grew up around into her work, but make no mistake, she is a proud Sephardic Jew. This piece talks about the all-too-common “compliment,” You don’t look Jewish.

Do you have any favorite spoken word videos? Share them below! And Happy World Poetry Day!

(image: Kai Davis)

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Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.