Meet your new favorite spoken word poet: Sarah Kay

It’s World Poetry Day, Gigglers, and we’re thinking about all the amazing poets we love. Here’s just one.

The best art makes us feel less alone. It reminds us that we’re a part of something larger and more mysterious than ourselves, something greater. A few years ago, when I had started to get caught up in my own thoughts and problems, I needed to be reminded of that — and that was the day I first heard Sarah Kay.

I was working at an internship that was slowly becoming soul-sucking, living at home, directionless, and feeling like I was in a rut. It had snowed for the fourth consecutive day in May — that’s right, it snows in May in Minnesota occasionally — and while I was waiting an hour and a half for the bus, I started to slowly give up on the pity party I was throwing and search for something to listen to online that would distract me.

Instead, I stumbled across Sarah Kay’s TED talk through a friend’s Facebook link. The spoken word poet shared two carefully crafted poems and a beautiful exercise on discovering “what you know to be true.” Her first poem, “If I Should Have a Daughter,” is a lovely, metaphor-rich love letter to her future daughter — or perhaps her younger self.

Kay’s nuanced lines about what we all wish we could tell our younger selves, our daughters, our mothers, our friends, are a heartfelt reminder that no matter what life throws at you, it’s important to be grateful, joyful, and brave.

The second poem I heard her recite humbled and shook me even more. It’s called “Hiroshima,” and in it, Kay speaks of the unthinkable tragedy of Hiroshima and the simultaneous fragility and endurance of the human experience. She reminds us that life is about striving for connection and togetherness, about wanting our words to matter, and about knowing we know very little. Her poem explains that despite moments when we feel we are wiser than our years, we still have so much to learn, and there’s beauty in that.

I didn’t know much about spoken word poetry before I discovered Kay, but it’s a powerful medium that combines the written word with performance. Each line is given to an audience verbally, instead of visually, so the effect is doubly moving. The rhythm and delivery of the words is just as important as the words themselves, and Sarah Kay executes both flawlessly. She quickly became my favorite spoken word poet that day, and I’d recommend her to anyone who will listen. Her words made me feel instantly less alone, less caught up in my own negativity.

I still get cranky waiting for buses in the snow. I still don’t know what I’m doing. But that’s alright — as long as I can try to recognize the beauty of this life a bit more each day. Whether you’re feeling a little lost, a little fragile, or just like you want to enjoy a new medium of art, Kay’s powerfully-delivered poetry will humble and humor you, and make your heart sink and sing.

Image via here.