Spoken Word

Joshua Bennett


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Vintage Publishing
16 March 2023
ISBN: 9781529110487
304 pages

From the publisher

The powerful story of an art form that has transformed the cultural landscape, by an award-winning poet, professor, and slam champion.

Roger Robinson | 'GALVANISING' Luke Kennard | 'CAPTURES LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE' Theri A. Pickens | 'MAGNIFICENT' Cornel West

In 2009, at only twenty years old, Joshua Bennett was invited to recite a poem for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House's Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word. Spike Lee and Saul Williams were in the audience, and it turned out to be the very same event where Lin-Manuel Miranda first performed a work-in-progress that revolutionised musical theatre - Hamilton.

Blending memoir and literary analysis, Bennett shows how a handful of visionaries altered modern culture. With passion, wit and erudition, he charts the history of spoken-word poetry, as well as his coming-of-age journey as a writer.

From the early influence of Miguel Algarin and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe to Amanda Gorman's inauguration poem for President Joe Biden, he celebrates the contributions of legendary figures such as Ntozake Shange, Nikki Giovanni and Miguel Pinero, as well as how artists like MF DOOM, Jill Scott and Mos Def were inspired to develop their craft within their shared tradition.

Spoken Word illuminates the profound influence that poetry has had everywhere melodious words are heard, from the West End to academia, from the podiums of political protest to cafes, from schools to rooms full of strangers all across the world.