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The Art of the Spoken Word

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A single microphone on a stand waits for the next heart to brave the glare of the lights, to speak of the paths it has traveled and to tell the stories of its bruises.

Spoken word, in thev most general terms, is a catch-all term for any poertry read, or spoken out to an audience. But spoken word poetry, in particulr, is a term that refers to a type of performance poetry that goes beyond reading a poem or reciting it from memory. In fact, spoken word poetry is considered "the love child of poetry and theater," as spoken word poems are written expressly to be performed. A spoken word poet makes full use of word play, intonation, inflection and facial expression when performing his or her piece.

While Cebu has long had an oral poetic tradition inthe form of "balak," it seems a whole new generation is discovering the art, the mystery, the honesty and the power of spoken poetry. Thanks in part to the influence of social media, in just one of two years, poetry has entered the consciousness of young Cebuanos, ang going to various poetry nights and open mics has become a hip thing to do on any night. With the popularity of such spoken word artists as Sarah Kay, Phil Kaye and Juan Miguel Severo, more and more young people are going out to coffee shops and even open air venues to listen to poems, and maybe even share some of their own.

One of the organizations fostering this hunger is the Cebu Literary Festival, or CebuLitFest. It is an event scheduled in November of this yearm a weeklong celebration all things literary - books, poetry, talks, moderated conversations. A number of lad-in events to the main CebuLitFest have been scheduled throughout the year. So far, CebuLitFest has had brought the powerhouse performances: Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye of Project V.O.I.C.E. in May, and Juan Miguel Severo of Words Anonymous last month. If the audience attendance at these shows were any indication, it seems that the interest in poetry, especially spoken word, is not about to wane any time soon.

CebuLitFest is also hosting open mic nights at The Walk in I.T. Park for homegrown poets and musicians to showcase their talents, both in English and in the vernacular. More often than not, the audience at open mic nights includes a few budding poets. For these artists, CebuLitFest organizes written and spoken work poetry workshops helmed by local and international poets. All these are in the hope of giving poets who are just starting out the tools for honing their craft. So now is the time to dust off those notebooks lying around one's room. The schedule for August Open Mics and Workshops are available on CebuLitFest's Facebook page.

Established in 2014, CebuLitFest has hosted talks by a number of literary minds including Cecilia Maguerra Brainard, Jessica Zafra, Merle Alunan, Resil Mojares, and Jun Dumdum. This year's roster includes Chris Martinez, F. Sionil Jose, and Lourd de Veyra. More information is available at or inquiries may be emailed to (THE FREEMAN)