Lessons on Spoken Word, Poetry and the Revolution from WAPI

First, my apologies for leaving my Blog to dry up like the love Kenyans once had for each other, when, to quote a famous thespian, not long ago ‘they would share the only remaining grain that fell on the ground’. I am not ignorant about what is happening around me, at the same time, I do not want to abuse/misuse my blog by airing my sentiments on the whole situation, thus, I chose to shut up and watch.

I have however been directing my energies or rather distracting my thoughts and feelings to more self constructive things. I managed to go for WAPI last Saturday, the Emcee competition was not as I’d hoped. This was mainly due to the fact that most Emcees were thinking in Swa then trying to rap in English, this was quite evidently, a disappointment. That coupled with the fact that most didn’t know when to call it quits. Why wrestle with the event hosts for the mic when clearly a crowd of over 1,000 guys have booed you offstage.

Fortunately I got to watch the final showdown albeit after more than 3 hours of waiting (I guess they were waiting for the sun to set). Fortunately, for most of us who couldn’t stand too much of wack emcee ‘trying to represent’ there was a ‘Spoken Word’ workshop.

Now, I don’t mean to diss here but, what is all this fuss about poetry and spoken word? I thinks its all about making poetry funky. Welcome to the commercialization of Poetry. That was evident when the audience at the workshop was treated to a heated debate between the trainer, Imani and a fellow poet, Githuku.

So for those still in the dark, look for ‘Def Jam Poetry’, watch it on Youtube or get the DVD then you’ll gitch the different, alright. “Then you’ll stop calling every poetry reading or performance, spoken word” as I so well quote the trainer.

So yes, we watched a lot of ‘Spoken word’ performances from the Def Jam Poetry videos, great stuff I must say. I currently only have Season 1 although I understand it has progressed up to season 6. I am hereby making an appeal (bila shame) kindly lend me the other seasons if you have.

As I was watching the videos I kept asking myself, “why can’t we have such a thing in Kenya?”, “Just imaging if Kwani was as fiery as Def Jam Poetry, the poets giving wonderful performances(very few readings), the crowd, always encouraging and not busy talking away distracting, the setting enhancing the ambience etc. I could go on and on, but I hope you get my point.

There are a couple of clips I found particularly inspiring. I want to get to that level of inspiration.


Talib Kweli; Off his His Hostile Gospel song(latest album)

Floetry – Fantasize

Sarah Jones -“Revolution”

Last but not least, Daniel Beaty “Knock Knock”

About Kenyan Poet

Showcasing the best in Kenyan Arts;Music,writing,Poetry,fine art and art reviews as well as info on emerging art trends. “Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite…getting something down.”