Poetry In A Pandemic: The Power of the Spoken Word

If 2020 was a boxing match, we would already be up against the ropes. Week after week the news deliver their punches mercilessly - rises in the pandemic numbers, police shootings, wildfires, violent demonstrations. People are struggling to cope with a new reality and what's more, they are looking for ways to express it beyond a quote on social media.

During the big moments in life, we look to art to say the things we struggle to say. For poets and writers to untangle our emotions and put words to our anger and sadness so that we feel less alone. 

Here are 3 powerful poems that really hit home in 2020.

A poem for teachers (Taylor Mali)

It's been over a decade since Taylor Mali performed "What Teacher's Make", but it seems even more relevant now that the pandemic is presenting new challenges to education and teachers.

A poem for Black Americans (Brandon Leake)

It took 15 seasons before we saw a spoken word artist on AGT. Brandon Leake brings all the emotions to the stage as a new father, a teacher, and a Black American in his poem about race.

A poem for immigrants (Darren Smith)

A powerful video that features UK residents of foreign heritage - people who often have to deal with racism and discrimination in their everyday life - reading "You Clap for Me Now" by Darren Smith.

It's not a coincidence that we see the mainstream embracing the spoken word again, from commercials to talent shows. One can be ambivalent about it (Coca-Cola's commercial with George the Poet is hard to see as more than a calculated marketing play by a brand building machine), but all the same the message remains: 

Even with everything that is happening around us, you matter. You make a difference.

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