Collected written works
This week I feel I’ve discovered the true power of spoken word.
I knew it was always there, but I’ve never felt this strongly about it before.
I’ve been luckily enough to meet two people who have moved the nation with just their voices. Firstly, John Lydon, secondly, Benjamin Zephaniah.
Some may say that these two couldn’t be further apart, but I believe them both to be extremely similar. They’ve both changed the world for the better and they’ve both resonated with millions of people.
Firstly, we’ll start with John. I rung him in LA the other evening as he’s performing at Bearded Theory, a Derby festival (some of you may know my main job is working for the local paper in Derby.)
I was extremely nervous about speaking to him due to past interviews he’s done, but he was lovely, a real pleasure to talk to. Obviously John is famous for being in The Sex Pistols and generally being ‘rotten’, but there’s a lot more to the man than that.
He says that his music joins people together and I believe he’s right. John said PiL was all about inclusion and the fact that any race, sexuality, creed, colour whatever could come to his gig and feel part of it. That’s such an important thing to me.
Secondly, Benjamin Zephaniah heard my poetry and thought it was alright, which is kinda mad in itself! However, I then took a trip down to Brunel uni to meet him. I can honestly say, despite all the amazing poets out there, he’s the one who’s inspired me the most. I could listen to that man talk all day.
Benjamin is a prime example of social change through spoken word. He spoke about his first ‘hit’ ‘Dis police man keeps kicking me to death’, which is actually a ground breaking track. Here’s the remix below:
He was one of the first people to give black people in Britain a proper voice in today’s society and he did it all through the power of words.
This track also breaks my heart a lot because he told me that it’s about him getting left in a cell by the police and getting beaten for a week straight- which is ILLEGAL, in case you didn’t already know.
Benjamin didn’t come from a family that were particularly passionate about words, he was a black working class young man with a criminal record, now he’s one of the most respected names in spoken word across the globe.
Although I have no experience of black oppression and never will do for obvious reasons, I have experienced homophobia and hate crimes in my youth. Originally, I didn’t think a ‘nobody’ such as myself would be able to make a difference in society, but I don’t believe that now.
The truth is people like you and me aren’t nobodies at all, we’re the true voices of the nation. Our everyday words represent the real stories of the world. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re just as important as anyone else and your experience and words adds to informing others about the many different aspect of the human experience.
Sometimes I feel like I want to give up, like my voice doesn’t matter and my message will do no good, but when I think of inspirational men, women and others such as these people, I feel that there is hope
It is so easily to feel powerless. People, businesses, countries and more want you to feel like it doesn’t matter what you do or say nothing will change. However, you must remember that the most powerful people in history, the ones that we learn about at school, the ones that moved the world, were just ordinary people. They were nobodies too.
On Friday night I performed at my friend’s even for refugees at Ort Café in Birmingham. We raised £500 just through getting behind a mic and performing spoken word. If that’s not powerful then I don’t know what it.
You don’t have to climb a mountain, you can keep climbing hills and soon notice the benefits. So in summary, here’s why your words, written or spoken, can make a positive social change:
1. They can change minds – You may feel your preaching to the converted, but your words could educate and change someone’s opinion about a story.
2. Your words can raise money/ inform people about great causes – speaking, writing or performing at charity gigs can bring real important subjects to a head.
3. They can give people an emotional outlet – When I’ve done poems about rape or sexual abuse, the amount of women that have come up to me afterwards and have said ‘I’ve been through that’ is both astounding and horrific. People can have a release by relating to your words, they can feel as though they’re not alone. Your words can also be a good release for you, I get very low points in my life and poetry is one way that I’m able to deal with them.
Basically, it’s helpful for both parties!
Never stop discussing important issues.
If it’s worth saying, say it.
Peace and love,