Literature

8 Spoken Word Poets and Pieces to Watch on a Rainy (Any) Day from the Diaspora

We've gathered together some of our favorite spoken word artists and writers from in and around the diaspora.

For those rainy summer days where you find yourself trapped in the house aimlessly searching for something to do, something to watch, something to get excited about, we got you covered. As a homage to the poetics of it all, we’ve decided to garner another summer round-up, this time of our favorite spoken word pieces and poets.


And coincidentally, as Immigrant Heritage Month carries the month, these powerful pieces mark stories on being first-generation, on names, heritage and identity throughout the diaspora. So whenever you find some free time this summer, check out these amazing lyricists and authors who are sure to have you snapping by the syllable, nodding your head and shedding tears that you’ll reluctantly blame on the high pollen count (but we know the truth).

1. George the Poet

Born to Ugandan parents, George the Poet born George Mpanga is a British spoken word artist and rapper garnering national and international acclaim. Hailed for his social commentary intertwined with music and words, George the Poet speaks on his life growing up in the inner-city streets of London, of representation, blackness and youth.

The twenty-five year old University of Cambridge alum released his first EP in 2014 titled The Chicken and the Egg and has been touring and releasing pieces ever since. In February, he released his first collection of poems and lyrics titled Search Party.

2. TJ Dema

Hailing from Botswana, TJ Dema is a lyricist, a poet, an artist and a founder of SAUTI, an arts and performance management organization. The former chairperson of The Writers Association of Botswana, Dema published her first chapbook titled Mandible in 2014. Dema speaks on home, on the power of words and self with a sweet confidence and unhurried resilience. Most recently, Dema gave a Tedx talk earlier this year on the contradictions and relationships between imagination and knowledge. You can watch it here.

3. Aja Monet

At 19, Aja Monet became the youngest winner of the famed Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe Grand Slam title. Of Cuban-Jamaican descent, Monet hails from Brooklyn, New York. In 2010, Monet independently published The Black Unicorn Sings followed by Inner-City Chants & Cyborg Cyphers in June of 2015, highlighting the double consciousness of women of color and personal growth. Monet also released an EP titled Courage in commemoration of the Maya Angelou poem. You can check it out here.

4. Carvens Lissaint

Writer and actor Carvens Lissaint is a Haitian-American poet from New York. Apart of The Strivers Row poetry collective, Lissaint is a graduate of the American Academy for Dramatic Arts and St. John’s University. Be sure to also check out the poem “Strive” which Lissaint along with Striver Row poet Miles Hodges performed to a standing ovation.

5. Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo is an Afro-Dominicana who writes on heritage, home and her upbringing. A National Slam Champion and a representative for Washington D.C. at this year’s Women of the World Poetry slam, Acevedo’s work has been featured virally on numerous publications. Check out her numerous videos on Youtube (including "Hair") as well as her Tedx talk titled “I use my poetry to confront the violence against women.” Her manuscript, Blessed Fruit & Other Origin Myths was selected for the Yes Yes Books’ chapbook poetry prize, and will be published in September 2016.

6. Porsha Olayiwola

Porsha Olayiwola is a Nigerian-Chicagoan, and the reigning Individual World Poetry Slam Champion. Her bio reads herself to be a “black, poet, dyke-goddess, hip-hop feminist, womanist, friend. Porsha Olayiwola is a performance artist who believes in pixie dust and second chances.” Her chapbook Porsha O. is expected to be released in July of this year. Olayiwola made waves earlier this year for her riveting poem “Rekia Boyd” speaking of the many women killed by police brutality and the silence that often echos after, the disparities on the harm inflicted on black women and a world that often overlooks the injury.

7. Alyssia Harris

A PhD candidate at Yale University, Alyssia Harris is an internationally acclaimed name in the world of spoken poetry. Born in Fremont, California, Harris grew up in Alexandria, VA. Apart of The Strivers Row poetry collective, Harris’ famed poem, “That Girl” garnered her an HBO Documentary feature. She released her chapbook “How Much We Looked Like Stars to Stars,” which won the 2015 New Women’s Voice Chapbook Contest. Touring around the world, her videos have accumulated over 3 million views on Youtube.

8. Mustafa Ahmed

Mustafa Ahmed is a performing artist from Toronto’s Regent Park neighborhood. The 17 year-old has been making waves since he was 12 after being featured in the Toronto Star for his poetry. Writing on his upbringing, on Islam, immigration and youth, Ahmed has opened up for artists like Jhene Aiko, has performed at TedxToronto, and has traveled around the world sharing his poetry. Mustafa released his first EP, Mustafa The Poet EP in February, which you can stream here.

Music
Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

B3nchMarQ and the Art of Making Something From Nothing

B3nchMarQ's EP consists of great songs that don't require much from the listener—but it bangs.

There's nothing groundbreaking about South African rap duo B3nchMarQ's debut release ASPEN EP. But one indisputable fact is that it bangs.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Nasty C and French Montana Hit the Club In the Video for ‘Allow’

Watch the video to Nasty C and French Montana's new collaboration.

South African rapper Nasty C just released the visuals to "Allow," his collaboration with French Montana. The song is featured on Bad Hair Extensions, the re-release of Bad Hair, the Durban-born rapper's debut album.

Keep reading... Show less
Video
Courtesy of Jojo Abot.

Let Jojo Abot's New Afrofuturistic Video Hypnotize You

The Ghanaian artist releases the new video for "Nye VeVe SeSe," an entirely iPhone-recorded track.

Jojo Abot is rounding out a strong year which has seen her tour South Africa, release the NGIWUNKULUNKULU EP and work with institutions like the New Museum, Red Bull Sound Select and MoMA on her art and performances.

Jojo is now sharing her latest music video for "Nye VeVe SeSe," a song featured on her iPhone-only production project, Diary Of A Traveler.

"Nye Veve Sese is an invitation to let go of the burden of pain and suffering that keeps us from becoming our best and greatest selves," a statement from Jojo's team reads. "Asking the question of why pain is pleasurable to both the one in pain and the source of the pain. Often time the two being one and the same."

Watch her new "meditative piece," which was shot in Bedstuy, Brooklyn, below.

Jojo Abot will be playing her final US show of the year in New York City alongside Oshun on October 26 at Nublu 151. Grab your tickets here.

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.