“My grandfather was paralysed. Once he was asked to tell a story about his teacher and he told how the holy Baal Shem Tov used to jump and dance when he was praying. My grandfather stood up while he was telling the story and the story carried him away so much that he had to jump and dance to show how the master had done it. From that moment he was healed. This is how stories ought to be told.”
– A Jewish Rabbi, reprinted in Timothy Radcliffe, Why go to Church: The drama of the Eucharist (2008)
Can one capture poetry in prose? Such is the inconceivability of this post. Even if it were possible, I find myself woefully inadequate to the task. But try, I shall.
In short, it was absolutely amazing.
Here’s a short intro on them. They are Spoken Word Poets (for more info, watch Sarah’s TEDtalk; nothing quite like it). They perform poetry on stage. And they are epicly awesome at it. They are gifted, charismatic and wonderful. But they are so much more – they are gifts, charisms, and they inspire wonder. And really, what better art is there than to evoke that sublime stirring of the soul?
The line between the person speaking the words and the words themselves blur. They became the words they said – witty, playful, brilliant, structured, seamless, rhyming, lyrical. And their words were infused with their very essence – magnetic, inspiring, innocent, raw, hopeful.
Words. That’s all there is to it. But instead of reading it off a page, you listen to it. You are passive, you are open. You don’t even have to suspend disbelief. They do that for you. You just let the words draw you in, wrap around you softly like a quilt cover (or shards of glass), and fill you with a sense of home (or hurt).
That was what the experience was that night – effortless. I don’t remember flowing quite so easily before.
And if that was the from the audience’s perspective, imagine what it’d be like for the performer.
In a way, spoken word poetry is words made flesh. You become more open, more raw, more vulnerable, more honest. You become more human. Maybe, you become more divine too.
I’d like to give Spoken Word Poetry a try one day.