Sherri Lupton Hollister

The Power of the Spoken Word

 When I was little I used to listen to my daddy’s recordings of comedians Brother Dave Garner and Jerry Clower, and balladeers whose names I cannot recall. Later I heard recordings of other comedians: Richard Prior and Red Foxx, Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall. I don’t remember hearing poets until much later. But the rhythm and fall of the words, the timing of the jokes, it all had a cadence like music.

The first time I heard the recording of Martin Luther Kings’ I Have a Dream speech, my heart stopped. He knew how to use words for effect. The rhythm and cadence where like poetry. When I saw the first poets ad lib on stage via television, battling with words, I thought of this speech. The power of words.

Many of the older set do not care for Hip Hop and Rap but I have found a beauty and poetry in many of the lyrics and the rhythm. It is poetry set to music. While some is not my taste or style, like any art form it is the expression of the artist. The beauty to me, is in the power of the words. If you can make me feel something with your words. If you can give me a glimpse into your world, then you have been successful with your craft.

The Pamlico Writers are doing something different this year and I am so excited. We are hosting a slam poetry session. Dasan Ahanu and the Bull City Slammers will perform in a spoken word contest. They will battle with words, one upping each other until a victor is named. At least that is way the battles are done of television. I can’t wait. I’m no match but as a spectator I can cheer with the rest of the crowd. I’d love to take the session but I’m no poet and I don’t think fast on my feet.

The poetry, speeches and songs that move us and stay in our memories are the ones that have a cadence that resonates. As writers, perhaps remembering how words sound out loud is as important as how they fit together on the page. Why do certain quotes stick with us centuries later? Why do words and phrases from movies and plays and stories come to us in our daily language? What is it about them that gets into our blood and deep into our souls? And how can we as writers do the same?

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