Spoken Letters

My video essay is on spoken word, and in the process of gathering content, I’ve had to watch a lot – A LOT – of youtube videos. I don’t mind. But after awhile, you start to notice patterns. In particular, I’ve noticed a bunch of “letters” as poems. I find this particularly interesting, considering the evolution of communication that was outlined in the books we had to read for class, namely the switches from oral to typographic to visual to (now) virtual eras that have occurred. We are now finding a potency in performing (a salute to the oral) composed letters (a salute to the typographic) and sharing these videos (a salute to the visual) online where they can reach millions of people (a salute to the virtual). They’re often comedic, like this one by Omar Holmon, but they can also be pretty serious, like this one by Jared Singer. I’ve thought about why spoken word poets might be so drawn to this format of communication, and I’m not sure there is one answer, but I think it has to do with our ongoing love of writing to someone (because sometimes a letter is a lot easier than delivering the message in person), and our other ongoing love of needing to say things to someone (because there is a freedom in voicing things out loud), and it’s hard to find a good combination of the two, unless you’ve found spoken word. I think spoken word is incredible in its medium-bending tendencies, and you should take a look at some of the amazing things that are out there.

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About mjpwoodruff

My biggest dilemma throughout life has probably been figuring out what I’m most interested in out of all the things I’ve ever come across and thought was worth a second glance. I have lists on my phone for all the books I haven’t bought and want to read, all the music I’ve tagged and want to listen to, all the fleeting thoughts I’ve had that could lead to an interesting topic for further daydreaming, etc. I probably visit thesaurus.com as often as I visit social media sites. A short list of things I’ve considered majoring in: film, poetry, neuroscience, composing, screenwriting, anthropology, biology, history, journalism, sociology, forensic science, political science. The only thing I’ve found in common with all of these things so far is that they all relate to humans, how they work, and how they interact. I love bees, morning drives into New York City, and ultimate frisbee. I also sell Girl Scout cookies, if you’re into that. - Maggie Woodruff

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