A friend recently introduced me to something called “spoken word poetry”. He recommended I check out a young woman named Sarah Kay. Spoken word poems are preformed as opposed to being just simply read. While Sarah Kay’s spoken poetry is really quite lovely and moving, I can’t imagine getting so into the genre.

I always had a difficult time with poetry. If you want to say something, just say it! Why bother with metaphors and similes? Why force the reader to read between the lines? That is, of course, the whole beauty of poetry. It means something different to the author and to each individual reader. Speaking the poetry takes away a lot of the subtleties of it. The challenge of poetry is to convey meaning and tone using words, but when reading it aloud this becomes the simplest aspect.

Written text is given no such opportunity to explain or defend itself with tone and clarifications. The author does not get to see the audiences’ reactions and improve with each performance. When a writer publishes text, that is the end. The writer must be perfectly clear in everything in order to convey the message intended, and the reader always has free reign to misinterpret as desired.

That is why, as delightful as spoken word poetry is, I will stick with the written word and the power of the pen.

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