How To Write Spoken Word

Write Your Best Poetry in 7 Easy Steps 

"Poetry and music are very good friends. Like mommies and daddies and strawberries and cream - they go together" ~Nikki Giovanni 

nikki giovanni and rafa selase black poets learning how to write spoken word

Above is a picture of Nikki Giovanni and myself some years ago. Nikki Giovanni is one of the greatest poets in this century and expert on writing authentic spoken word poetry that pierces the hearts and minds of all who read or listen to her powerful work

Learn To Write Spoken Word

1. GET STARTED - Writing spoken word is exactly what it says. The written word is communicated verbally. You may be unsure where to start, but this is completely normal and is actually a good problem to have. This lack of vision will require you to now focus on one thing; placing your thoughts, ideas and engird towards uncovering the subject matter you choose. You might experience feelings of frustration when you start but you must keep going. Just write what you feel, what you are thinking. Here is the first step.
Write your theme or topic.

2. CHOOSE A THEME - You can use a normal storytelling formula such as character, situation, problem, solving the problem, failing or solving the problem, consequence. Or a conventional story: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

3. Learn How to Write Spoken Word Poetry With a Simple 21 Line Poem

Steps to Writing Spoken Word ( Rule of 21)

  • Choose a topic you care about...Become a storyteller
  • Write a vertical row of numbers from 1 to 21
  • In the first line write your title 
  • In the next 6 lines write down how you feel about the subject 
  • In lines, 7 through 20 write down the problem followed by the answer
  • On the last line write the title of the poem
  • Read It Out Loud - Now go through and edit your lines 2 - 20 thinking about synonyms, rhyming and vocal clarity in mind.  To make your spoken word longer you can repeat this process. Read it out loud again and try to perform it! 

Example of my 21 Line Spoken Word Poetry Method 

    1. TITLE - I gotta get started writing poetry
    2. Is anyone going to listen to my story
    3. But my writing is so unique
    4. I should already be on Newsweek
    5. I am tearing down my personal mystique 
    6. Man I got the dopest spoken word technique 
    7. Highlight reels like old skool Dominique 
    8. MVP skill like NBA Greek Freak 
    9. My written word is divinely chosen words 
    10. Telling stories unheard 
    11. For the normal poetic nerds
    12. Slick vernacular
    13. Swinging for the fence spectacular 
    14. Not highlighting my spoken word writing
    15. My hope is igniting
    16. Magnifying 
    17. Solidifying 
    18. The power of written words
    19. Performed as spoken words
    20. For audiences all over the world
    21. END - I gotta get started writing poetry

    3. READ IT OVER - Now you must read your poem over and over for flow, rhythm, and rhyme. This process will allow you to refine your spoken word so you know how you can deliver this to audiences. Memorize it! 

    4. PERFORM - Now you can perform it for audiences, to music or another medium. Add a hip-hop sound and try speeding up or slowing down to make it more palatable for your audience. Here you go the simple formula. 


    Repeat, repeat, repeat! Stay consistent...

    I have learned the best way to develop your craft is to start now and stay consistent. Start right this moment! Don't wait and do not procrastinate! You must nurture your gift...

    Nurture in simple terms is "to care for"

    If you care for something you give it you must take time each day to develop and nurture your gift. No one else will do this for you! You must do it, you must care enough about yourself to give your self the time to develop those special gifts within you. Enjoy the process and get around people who enjoy what you do! Want more information here is a great article on what the heck is spoken word

    How to write spoken word music? 

    Learning to write spoken word music is what I call the "beautiful fusion." I have found great enjoyment in joining music and poetry. On my album "Red Blood American" I intertwined spoken word, piano and several other instruments when I published the album.  I discuss in detail how I combine piano and spoken word in "How To Write a Poem." So that I don't make this article long-winded I will share  3 tips on how to write spoken word and music. 

    1. Determining a mood and pace for your subject. The mood will help you identify which instruments will go best with your spoken word. I tend to be thoughtful, introspective. 
    2. Get someone on to play along with you as you practice reciting your s[poken word over the music. Using this method of practice provides an opportunity for you to expand on your writing and or make changes to better flow with the music.
    3. Memorize your spoke word until it is second nature. This level of practice will allow you to adjust on the fly when you fuse your spoken word with music. 

    Example of How to Write Spoken Word Music

    Below is one of the songs I created after studying Chopin Et. 10. Another musician I was working with threw out the line "Dead presidents don't matter when you're dead." So I wrote a spoken word poem about it. Here is my interpretation of spoken word and music fusion. 



    How To Write Spoken Word Poetry Tagalog? 

    Tagalog is the language spoken in the beautiful country of the Phillippines. About 30 percent of the Filipino population speaks Tagalog. Tagalog origins stretch from Australian, New Zealand to East Africa. 

    Tagalog is a beautiful language much like the Philippino people in kindness and physical stature. The Hearing poem in Tagalog has a sweet sound. There have been many poets such as Rolando Tinio, Virgilio Almario and Edgar Calabia Samar. 

    The Tagalog language is the one unique element that makes it different. Tagalog has a different word structure that immediately produces a sound that is direct yet subtle. 

    My only advice for someone writing Tagalog poetry would be to share your culture, don't hold back and allow us on the outside to get an inside perspective. 

    How to Write Christian Spoken Word Poetry?

    Writing Christian spoken word poetry is a simple as writing from your experience as a believer. When writing your spoken word poetry attempt to align your content with Christian ideals and tenants which is what makes Christian Spoken Word Poetry easily identifiable with listeners that are believers. One of the best ways to align with Christian ideals is to use the Bible as a reference. Be courageous and consistent with your work. 

    5 Ways Nature Can Inspire Your Spoken Word?

    The benefits of being in nature and writing poetry can change your life. Taking time to eliminate the noise, reflect, restore and renew will give you the space to create. 

    1. Benefits of being in nature: Going to your local gym can be easy, well structured and full of people you know. But sometimes it’s nice to switch it up and let nature be our gym. This will do wonders for your mind, creativity, and writing. I have found that I often have a skin glow and more energy after being outside and completing a small workout.
    2. You can take a phone or a small notebook with you. It may take a little creativity to get the workout you are desiring but a change in pace can be inspiring and great for the mind, body, soul and spoken word. Listed below are several ways to create your outdoor fitness routine and have a little fun in the process.
    3. Get upside down. Try a handstand against a tree and hold it the for as long as possible, if you find that too easy try attempting handstand pushups. Yes, I actually do handstands. And when the weather permits I like to be in the sun absorbing the healthy rays. The results are great for not only your body but your mind. 
    4. Run the hill while repeating your spoken word: Are you located near hills attempt to run or jog up the hill. If you find that it is not enough! Try 4 – 7 sets.
    5. Take a walk and memorize your spoken work: Walking gives you a great opportunity to memorize or reflect on your work. 


    Get our How to write spoken word pdf click here 


    Another great resource to learn about spoken word is this Wikipedia article