Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Performance poetry, poetry slams, open mic nights. What’s it all about? Sitting through any number of poetry readings (with or without a microphone) is a good way to grasp a healthy loathing of the form. Yet in recent years, technology has led to a resurgence of interest in poesia. Indeed, on a bad day, the Internet is almost sluggish with poets and poetasters.
And while it’s not quite celebrity, many have made their way out of the closet to find ever-more-youthful devotees who not only read poetry but write and perform it as well.
What of it? We must have our fancies – for some it’s a microphone, others may prefer a pen no larger than their sense of humour. Aristotle observed that the poet is concerned with the universal rather than the particular. Would the rhyming world be a better place without open mic nights? I seriously doubt it. Microphones are not easy to come by or affordable in comparison to pens, available in most newsagents. Newsagents are not fussy and will furnish any die-hard scribblers with the necessary tools.
Should we gather up all the pens in order to stop the collapse of poetry, or to guard against shoddy penmanship? The idea is ludicrous. While almost any experience might create a poem, it does not follow that every successful utterance of experience is poetry. Verse alone does not make a poem.  Lines may scan and rhyme yet be quite unpoetic:
"I put a hat upon my head
And walked into the Strand
And there I met another man
Whose hat was in his hand.”
Dr. Johnson
A poem is self-transcending but, while the microphone may amplify sounds so that you seem louder (and more important), it cannot make you a poet. The nature of poetry is too mysterious to examine, and there is no yardstick by which you can measure technical proficiency.
A poem is or isn’t. Emotion, no matter how strong and genuine, is not poetry. I, for one, am very amused by the paradox of poetry’s obstinate continuance in the present phase of civilisation. As for open mic nights – poetry is reinventing itself and finding new audiences.
It’s hard enough for a young person to admit to writing poetry and then have to go out there (without a parachute) and read it to a roomful of giddy strangers. Yeats would call that reckless courage.
Who knows: in that vast cosmos of poeticules, perhaps there’s a John Betjemen or an Anne Sexton bumping in the crowd? I would ban boring verse, the type that’s mannered and literary in the old-fashioned sense. Personally I cannot stand the trained actor method of reading poetry. It’s sonorous and empty.
A poetry reading/open mic night is an odd creature. However, it shouldn’t be reduced to therapy. Each reading has its own character; it affects and reflects the audience. There is no correct or exact formula, but it is important to have good poets who know their craft. Each individual poet offers a contribution to the whole. Even with the microphone you cannot make a poem better than it really is.
The most experience and dynamic poets run the risk of boring an audience if they are unaware of the listeners’ capacity for absorption. Enough of poeticalness. Open mic nights have got a bad press and are a fairly recent phenomenon on this island. However, they should not translate to complete laissez faire on the part of the poet, a licence to metrical anarchy.
I hope it won’t become a dead movement – doing the poetry thing and seeking novelty for its own sake. The purpose of poetry readings, with or without the microphone, is to interest and entertain.
It’s not poetry wars. Really.
Yours truly, Kate O’Shea.
Kate O’Shea ran a very successful multi-media group Chocolate Sundaes at La Cave for four years in the nineties with William Kennedy and the late Christopher Daybell. They did not have a microphone.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Abandoned by my mother,
Rejected by my father,
Despised like and Osu,
All for an offence I have no clue
All for a crime I did not do.

Plucked-off the economic tree
Before the ripe time,
They won’t let me be,
They wont let me reach my prime,
They swear I wont another market day see;
So they sold me to the beggar that lingers by street corners and make chime.

My make of silver
They claim is my crime,
They’ll rather have paper
At least to give them ample looting time.

10 naira for mere pure water
Is now five naira,
Used to be
Some tafawa balewa,
Mehn! I miss those days of 50k  peppery  tanfinri;
O! Life is not always grape, sometimes its lemon, other times its lime.

So I remain grounded
Like Nigerian Air,
But Dana’s ban has been lifted;
They can go on crashing dreams here and there
Eh! who said life was fair?
Now #5000 notes will soon be minted
I hope ‘Muri’, ‘Shandy ‘, and Awo’ can see the writing clear.

by Soonest I Nathaniel

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Mushin in my blood, it is where I was born
The lifestyle, the culture like a shirt I’ve worn
As a kid I was exposed to violence and porn
Fearless and desperate, taking the bull by the horn
Densely populated, dominated by thugs
Here, we chop knuckles we don’t give hugs.

Prostitutes half-naked, parading our streets
As a kid, I would watch lick my lips without a sweet
Few churches, few mosques, more hotels and bars
Street-fighting, bottle-breaking, boys are kept behind bars
Many streets untarred, full of retards
Children treat adults with no regards
Street-hawking, child-labour haunt the little minds
Parents want to survive so they never mind.

Gun-shots every night, we all live in fear
Police pose with armour-tanks with enough gas to tear
Every junction, every corner, boys are smoking weed
Teenage girls warming beds just to meet their need
On sanitations, we play football on the streets
No jerseys, no boots we tackle hard with our feet
2Face from  Festac, 9ice from Bariga
We are proud of our own Alabi Pasuma

Now the change has come, guys are back to school
Violence has disappeared, everywhere is cool
Teenage girls quit flirting, they keep their pride
They are getting married, guys make them their bride
Being born here is a blessing and not a curse
I’m proud of my hood, I don’t know about yours

by Olaide aka Poetstreet (inspired from the street).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tips for performing at poetry and spoken word open mic nights

Reading your own poems out loud to a room full of strangers might sound terrifying. Having done it a few times myself, I can confirm that it is. But with the number of poetry open mic nights in Scotland increasing, sometimes eclipsing their musical cousins, there must be a reason why so many people put themselves through it. So if you’ve penned a few verses and are considering taking the plunge, what should you look out for?

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Preview of WORD UP Volume 5 holding on August 17, 2013.

WORD UP Volume 5 Preview

i2X Media

WORD UP Volume 5

The first anniversary edition of the biggest Spoken Word Poetry Event in Nigeria

It will feature the

Best of the best Spoken Word Poets in Naija,
Sensational Soul Singers
Celebrity Poet of the day, Toni Payne.

Emcees are: Delectable Duvy and Don Fabrino

 Date is August 17, 2013

Venue is Terra Kulture Hall,
Plot 1376, Tiamuyi Savage,
off Ahamdu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Doors Open from 2pm

Gate Fee:
Regular N1,000
VIP N5,000

Stay tuned for more details on 

For sponsorship, partnership and advert inquiries, 

Please call 08025070892, 08038315055, 08157268001, 08053001608

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Art of Spoken Word Poetry.

What is the difference between a poet and a spoken word artist? Between a reading and a performance?

With written word, the inner spirit of a poem is there on the page, and the poet connects individually with the reader. The page dictates the line breaks, and the reader determines the pacing and tempo when the poem is read silently in the reader's head or out loud. The words are there to savor or to return to whenever needed by the reader. Books are comfortable companions that surround the reader with intimate connections from the writer. There is an individual communion and healing between the poet and the reader.
But once that poem moves off the page and is read, not just from the page, but read with the rhythm and the music in the soul of the poet, it makes a different kind of connection--a connection with the community--and it now speaks to the masses. The poet determines the rhythm and spirit of the poem and starts to merge the art forms of the written word, music, theater and dance into new forms, generally called "spoken word".
Spoken word has been around a lot longer than the written word. Spoken word can be traced back to a long-practiced art form that is rooted in the oral traditions of many cultures. Before written language was introduced, one generation passed on their oral history to the next with storytelling; they kept this conversation going with rhythm, music and dance. It was a way to keep the memories alive through the generations, but also a way to take people to another place, sustain them during troubled times and give them hope and love.
Spoken word as it is practiced today retains those same elements of connection in the community, bringing us back to the sounds of our ancestors. There seems to be a bit of a divide, though, between the academic world and the spoken word movement. Most colleges don't "teach" the art of spoken word. It's usually something you have to experience on your own out in the community. Fortunately, here in the Twin Cities, spoken word is really starting to flow!
The Minnesota Spoken Word Association (MNSWA) USA, spearheaded by many of the leading spoken word artists in the Twin Cities, recognizes the rise of spoken word as a legitimate art form. They define spoken word as "the rhythmically-based performance of poetry and the continually innovative marriages of poetry and music...[spoken word] has indeed become the voice of the times, and the artists, the voice of the community. As the poets of the Harlem Renaissance spoke for and about their time, the Beat poets for theirs, and the Black Arts Movement artists for the 1960's and 1970's -the spoken word artists today speak for ours." 
The Loft Literary Center occasionally has instructors who teach classes related to spoken word, such as reading for performance, storytelling or monologues. SASE: The Write Place is a catalyst for instructors in the art of spoken word and also recently co-sponsored (along with the Loft, the U of M's Creative Writing Program, the East Side Arts Council and others) the "Poetry Music Innovation" held in Poetry Park at Lake Phalen in St. Paul, also in August 2001.

What does the future hold for spoken word? Plenty! There is so much hunger out there in the world and writers need to be courageous enough to improvise, collaborate and cross disciplines, boundaries and cultures to get the art of spoken word out into the community.

Jules Nyquist
Loft Literary Center
Write on Radio at KFAI 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Business of Spoken Word Poetry by Shihan Van Clief

Shihan Van Clief (an Internationally renowned Spoken Word Poet from USA) was in Nigeria in May 2013 for Word Up Volume 4. Prior to the event, he was at a workshop (organised by i2X Media), to talk on "The Business of Spoken Word Poetry."
Shihan has, for over 17 years, been living solely on income from Poetry Performances and Poetry related activities. He has an exclusive Sponsorship deal with Sports Giant, Adidas and is the current voice for The Sprite Street Mix, a radio program broadcasted in over 13 countries in Africa. He has been featured on various media outlets including 7 appearances on 6 seasons of Def Poetry, and on commercial adverts of Nike, Reebok and the NBA.
Who is better to talk about the Business of Spoken Word Poetry than someone who is into it full time 24 7?

Below are video clips of the workshop and his adverts for Adidas. Enjoy and learn.........!!!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The craziest and shortest poem I have ever heard!!!

War Of Words (Slam Poetry Competition) Season 1 was fun-filled, exciting and thrilling all the way to the last performance on stage. 

I heard poetic pieces that made me smile, some poems made me sober, some were thrilling and a few were simply marvelous.

But one poem stood out, why, you may ask. Well, it was short and crazy. The poet left everyone in the venue waiting eagerly for the next verse as he walked off the stage. Men, "Me likey likey plenty plenty"!!! 

Watch the video below and tell me what you think.

Seye La Poet performing at War Of Words - Slam Poetry Competition.

 i2X Media, the conveners of Word Up (a quarterly Spoken Word Poetry Event), held the maiden edition of War Of Words (WOW) on June 30, 2013 in Bogobiri, Ikoyi, Lagos. 
WOW is a spoken word poetry competition which was organized with the aim of discovering and showcasing young and up-coming spoken word poets.
War Of Words Season 2 will start off from September 2013.
If you can kiss words and make them dance, then this is your chance.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Poetry Slam: Art of the Spoken Word

Poetry Slam is a competitive event where poets perform their own poetry on stage. Performances are judged on how much the poem moves the audience.
During open slams, poets perform one piece of original work that will be scored 1-10 by five different judges, dropping the lowest and highest score. Before the first competing poet, there is a ‘sacrificial poet’, who performs to warm up the judges scoring. After the first round, low scores are eliminated and the top few poets slam again. Eventually, two poets are left in the finals.
Slam poets pour their hearts and souls on stage while communicating their deepest thoughts. Some slams are powerful enough to change perspectives and they never fail to include a line or two that gives you goosebumps.
There are many styles of slam poets ranging from “ranting hipsters, freestyle rappers, bohemian drifters, proto-comedians, mystical shamans to gothy punks” as described by Slam master, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz. You never hear the same poem twice or the same side of an issue.
So, what does it take to be a slam poet? One thing and one thing only: honest expression. Express your emotions, express your thoughts, and express the glimpses of your life your willing to share.
Helpful Slam Tips
·    You don’t need to rhyme words as much. In a slam poetry the pauses and pronunciations of your words create the rhythm and that rhythm creates poetry.
·    Be fully honest with yourself. Get down to the core of your emotions, even the little things you might not want to except. Poetry is a strong catalyst for self-awareness.
·    Some slams are more like raps while others are more like speeches; it’s all how you feel and what your mind, heart, and body is artfully expressing.

A Slam Poem

A poet leaks part of his soul into a book, words brimming with life,
Vibrant and alive,
Trying to speak but sealed between pages never to depart
But still waiting to arrive

Waiting to be told , because every time we write these words
we hear how they want to be spoken,

And when we speak them,
They create a symphony of expression
Our souls compose and ours lyrics are our lessons

See when you slam,
Your mind becomes a storyteller,
Your body a dancer,
And your heart a jazz musician,
All trying to communicate the messages of your soul

Sharing that symphony with someone is something to behold.

By Michael O'Connell


Watch these two Amazing Slam Poems at the recent War Of Words (Slam Poetry Competition).
Saint Rhymes performing a piece titled "Purpose" at War Of Words - Slam Poetry Competition.

Kemistry doing a poem on "Life" at War Of Words - Slam Poetry Competition

 i2X Media, the conveners of Word Up (a quarterly Spoken Word Poetry and Soul Music Event), 
held the maiden edition of War Of Words (WOW) on June 30, 2013 in Bogobiri. 
WOW is a spoken word poetry competition which was organized with the aim of discovering and showcasing young and up-coming spoken word poets.
War Of Words Season 2 will kick off in September 2013.
Stay tuned to this site for more details.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In Defense of Spoken Word – Guante

In Defense of Spoken-Word and Slam Poetry
by Kyle “Guante” Myhre

This past January, representatives from a wide range of Twin Cities spoken-word and slam organizations held a meeting at the Springboard for the Arts in St. Paul. We discussed ways to build our community, to improve the viability of spoken-word as a recognized artistic medium and to promote our events more effectively. It was a great discussion, and a lot of positive things (including the decision to support as the go-to website for Twin Cities spoken-word) came out of it.

One thing I left with was the idea that to really build this community, we have to do more than entertain our base; we need to reach out to people who have never heard of spoken-word… and also to people who actively dislike it.

In my experience, many of the criticisms directed at slam and performance poetry are founded in an ignorance of what the form really is. People today are criticizing what slam poetry was five years ago, or they went to one really bad open mic and hated it, or they watched a particularly uninspired episode of Def Poetry Jam and decided that all spoken-word is platitude-ridden, clichéd sound and fury.
But the Twin Cities has one of the top spoken-word scenes in the nation; our poets are incredibly talented and our events are consistently big, beautiful and a lot of fun. In an effort to assuage the fears of some potential audience members (and/or performers), I’d like to address a few myths:

We all know the stereotype. Some twenty-something with a goatee and beret gets on stage and reads some really awful, trite, cliché-ridden poetry about how “the government is corrupt” with a lot of passion and intensity; his rhythms are predictable and his voice goes up and down for no apparent reason. The audience goes wild.
I’d be lying if I said that this didn’t happen now and then, but so many would dismiss the entire art form due to the presence of a few hacks, or perhaps just some kids who are starting their journeys as writers. This is a willful ignorance.
It is true that many (not as many as you might think, but quite a few) performance poets have adopted a standard vocal style, and certain themes (alienation, identity, depression, radical politics, sexuality, etc.) come up at slams and open mics more than others. But show me a genre of music or form of expression where this isn’t the case. Singer-songwriters all sing about relationships in 4/4 time with a guitar. Rappers rap about how good they are in sixteen bar verses with eight bar hooks. Every form has its own standard, and every form is dominated by hacks and artists who are simply following a formula. If anything, spoken-word has a much HIGHER ratio of originality and talent to mediocrity than, say, indie rock or novel-writing (or page poetry, for that matter) or whatever other art you’d like to compare it to.
Also, and this is something that people outside the performance poetry community probably wouldn’t know, the standard, cliché style is on its way out. Spoken-word, in its most recent incarnation, started going strong in the late eighties and early nineties. By 2000 or so, it had developed its own formulas and clichés, as all art forms do. Today, those formulas and clichés are widely recognized and good poets work hard to avoid them. If you go to a slam or open mic today, at least in the Twin Cities, you’re probably not going to hear some neo-beatnik ranting about “the man” or some bohemian caricature adlibbing free-verse about the revolution.
That’s not to say that every spoken-word artist is a completely original, convention-defying genius. But if you go to a slam today, you’re more likely to see and hear something inspiring, hilarious or powerful than something that embodies the stereotypes associated with the form. Spoken-word, at least the version of it that we’re talking about (since technically, it’s been around forever), is still a very young art.

On some levels, this might actually be true. But the key question is “according to whom?” Is the broader poetry community judging spoken-word by the same standards they judge some creative writing professor’s villanelles? The form is fundamentally different. It’s a performance art; yes, some subtlety might be sacrificed at times because the listener doesn’t have the luxury of re-reading lines and analyzing every word choice, but this is a conscious decision. It’s extremely important to remember: spoken-word is written to be performed; it’s not the same as reciting poetry written for the page and we should not judge the two by the exact same standards.
The best spoken-word takes elements of page poetry, theater, oratory, stand-up comedy, preaching and other vocal forms and mashes them up into something new and incredibly engaging. No, the focus isn’t always on the “pure” lyric, and while some might say that this fact dilutes the art, I’d argue the exact opposite. I think that poets’ balancing form, content and delivery is making poetry more relevant, exciting and meaningful. Language does, after all, exist as the written word and as the spoken/heard word; spoken-word poetry gets to explore places that page poetry cannot go. I’m not saying that one is better or worse than the other; they’re just different, and this should be celebrated.

I’ve heard this from both academics who hate hip hop and want to associate spoken-word with what they consider violent, sexist doggerel, and from hip hop artists who think that spoken-word poets are just rappers who can’t stay on beat. Both are way off.
As someone who is both a rapper and a spoken-word poet, I can say that the two share some elements but are fundamentally different. At slams and open mics these days, you rarely hear rhyming poetry; you’ll hear free verse, theater-style monologues, persona pieces and much more, and rhymes are there but are generally in the minority. Poets who try to rap generally aren’t very good, and rappers who try to compete in slams rarely do well. If anything, I’d like to see more cross-over and cooperation between the two communities. I think they could learn a lot from each other.

Again, there is some truth in this statement, but it ignores the wider context. Slams (which are, for those who don’t know, competitions in which performing poets are given scores from a panel of judges) are imperfect things, but they’re also a means to a very important end. The idea behind slam has nothing to do with poets’ stroking their egos; it’s a way to build the community—to get poets writing, to get people to come watch them perform and to make spoken-word events more exciting and audience-oriented. Slams are responsible for getting people, especially young people, excited about poetry again, and the value of this cannot be overstated.
Yes, sometimes the best poets don’t win. Sometimes a really loud, flashy piece will beat an exceptionally thoughtful, well-written piece. But slam is about democracy. As a poet, you have to be able to connect to your audience, even if that audience is in a dive-bar somewhere, only half-listening. The best slam poets are able to strike that balance between content, form and delivery, to write something beautiful and meaningful and perform it in a way that grabs people and gets a point across perfectly. It’s a great challenge, and in my opinion, very healthy for poetry.

First of all, let’s not forget that spoken-word is as old as language itself. In some form or another, it’s always been with us and will always be with us. I’ve been talking about a specific manifestation of it (the post-Beat, late-20th century slam and spoken-word cultures), but it’s a form with enough flexibility and power to never truly disappear.
And as someone who has been to three National Poetry Slams, performed countless times all over the country and run a million writing and performance workshops for youth, I can say with certainty that even this specific manifestation of spoken-word isn’t going anywhere. It’s only going to get more popular.
Nationally, the spoken-word community is big, diverse, supportive, talented and ready for the next big stage. High schools all over the country have spoken-word clubs. Universities are starting to teach spoken-word as a legitimate literary form. Slams and open mics are popping up not only in the usual places like New York, Chicago and San Francisco, but in small towns across America and beyond.
People who disparage spoken-word or slam should attend the Quest for the Voice youth slams that happen every year through the Minnesota Spoken Word Association (this year’s finals are on April 9 at the Ritz Theater). They should see the Brave New Voices national youth slam, and feel the positivity and overwhelming sense of community in that space. They should talk to the countless adult poets who aren’t obsessed with scoring points in slams and simply appreciate having a platform on which they can share pieces of themselves. They should talk to the students I’ve worked with who have performance poetry to thank for being able to overcome social anxiety and low self-esteem, or the students who have used performance poetry as their gateway to discovering page poetry, or social justice activism, or whatever their true passion might be.
I don’t want to come off as overly defensive though. Of course, some people just don’t like listening to someone else performing poetry. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t go to death metal concerts. But I recognize that I avoid death metal because it doesn’t appeal to my personal sonic tastes, not because I think it’s full of blood-drinking Satanists. We should like or dislike things for the right reasons, and I have no problem with people criticizing spoken-word; I just wish they’d be more informed when they do it.
Because as a community, we do have a lot to work on. I want to see more women and people of color on Twin Cities spoken-word stages this year. I want to see more cooperation between the various spoken-word entities in town. I want to hear poems that are not just well-written and powerfully-performed, but challenging too. I want to see our audiences get bigger, more diverse and more rowdy. All the pieces are in place; it’s just going to take some elbow grease.

More than anything, though, it’s going to take people who aren’t already involved to dive in. As poets, as audience members, as journalists—we need these new faces to make the scene their own. So to the theater kids, the hip hop heads, the closet poets, the storytellers, the professors, the high school students and anyone who understands the importance of engaging, dynamic, fun art: come to a slam, read at an open mic, check out www.minnesotamicrophone.comThe odds are good that you’ll find something you like.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Special First Anniversary edition this August 17 2013.

i2X Media

(the biggest Spoken Word Poetry Event in Nigeria)

August 17, 2013

For this Special Edition tagged, WORD UP Volume 5,
we will be marking our one year anniversary and it will feature the

Best of the best Spoken Word Poets in Naija,
Sensational Soul Singers
Special “Poetic” Performances by Celebrities

Emcees of the day are: Delectable Duvy and Don Fabrino

Venue is Terra Kulture Hall,
Plot 1376, Tiamuyi Savage,
off Ahamdu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Doors Open from 2pm

Gate Fee:
Regular N1,000
VIP N5,000

Stay tuned for more details on 

For clips of our past events and poetry performances, go to

For sponsorship, partnership and advert inquiries, 

Please call 08025070892, 08038315055, 08157268001, 08053001608

More Pixs from War Of Words...!!!!

Here are some more pictures from 
War Of Words - Slam Poetry Competition 
which held on June 30, 2013 at Bogobiri House, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Don Fabrino and Duvy

The Poets


Felix the Great and Dare Dan

Gbenga Osowe
Saint Rhymes

Dj Swaggz

Our 3 Great Judges

Torpedo Mascaw (Freedom Hall)

Lydia of Taruwa

Plumbline (Chill and Relax)

People at the event

People enjoying Spoken Word Poetry

Standing Ovation

Erowo interviewing Titi (Winner of the Slam)

Autograph Signing thingz :)

Delectable Duvy