8 Powerful Spoken Word Performances for Women

First of all, let me take this opportunity to greet every woman out here for International Women’s Day 🙂

Happy International Women's Day! | Graphic by Niña Terol-Zialcita, created using Canva.com
Happy International Women’s Day! | Graphic by Niña Terol-Zialcita, created using Canva.com

As some of you may already have gathered from reading some of my previous posts, I’m a fan of spoken word poetry and have dabbled in a bit of spoken word myself. So, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2014, I share here a curated list of eight powerful spoken word performances that I believe every empowered woman must watch in order to remind her of her true worth in this world.

(Be warned: some of them are pretty intense stuff; I’ve cried watching them!)

If you love what you see here, please feel free to pass it on 🙂

1. Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter (I’m obviously a Sarah Kay fan!)

2. Lily Myers: Shrinking Women (a great counterpoint performance to #1)

3. Sonya Renee:  The Body is Not an Apology

4. Katie Makkai: Pretty

5. Alicia Keys: P.O.W. (from her book, Tears for Water)

6. Becca Khalil and Nayo Jones: Ambiguous (for anyone who’s had to deal with rude questions on race)

7. Thea Monyee: Woman to Woman (for anyone who’s ever had to deal with ‘that girl’)

8. Najia Muhammad-Jaaber: Live Before You Die and Beat the Drum (An awesome spoken word performance by a female Muslim spoken word artist–what a revelation!)

Believe me, there is sooo much more good stuff where those came from, so I’ll be sure to post more spoken word performances in this blog. (To all Pinoys looking for more Filipino spoken word performances, stay tuned for material from Speak Philippines in Niña’s Notebook!)

Poetry: “You are not Broken”

First Wednesdays of the month are Poetry Slam nights for my favorite hangout, Sev’s Café (which I affectionately call my “unofficial living and dining room”). The “slam” consists of a competition for amateur spoken word artists and poets, while the open mic portion–as the name suggests–welcomes anyone and everyone who wishes to share a piece (or more!).

Here is a piece I’ve done for both the slam and our open mic sessions. I wrote it shortly after supertyphoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) flattened many coastal towns in the Visayas region in the Philippines. It was meant to encourage the typhoon’s survivors, but as I was writing it I also realized that I needed to write it in order to deal with my own brokenness. (And who among us isn’t broken in some way, right?)

I unfortunately don’t have a clear-enough video recording of me performing the piece, but once I do I’ll also post it here.

"Self-Portrait #2" by Niña Terol-Zialcita | Correction ink on board (2012)
“Self-Portrait #2” by Niña Terol-Zialcita | Correction ink on board (2012)

YOU ARE NOT BROKEN

by Niña Terol-Zialcita

 

Repeat after me:

 

YOU. ARE NOT. BROKEN.

 

I know that, right now,
It’s pretty hard to believe.
After all,
Didn’t a storm just
Wash away
Everything you had?
Left you with
Absolutely nothing
Except what’s standing
On your feet?

 

Didn’t a
Global catastrophe
Crush you–
Shatter you
Rip apart your
Hopes and dreams, and
Bring you to your knees?

 

You feel broken,
All right.
Pretty damn
Ripped
And bruised
And pounded
To bits.
And abso-fuckin’-lutely
Broken.

 

BUT YOU ARE NOT.

 

What you
Need to know
Is that the very same
World
That you fear
Is the very same world
That is cheering–
Pushing you
To go on,
Believing
In everything you’ve got–
Even when you think
You’ve got
Abso-fuckin’-lutely
Nothing left.

 

Because
You’ve got heart
You’ve got soul
You’ve got strength
You’ve got
The fucking courage
To stand back up
On your feet
And the resilience
To tell the
Whole wide
Fucking World

 

NO ONE–
ABSOLUTELY NO ONE–
WILL BRING ME DOWN
BECAUSE MY FAITH
IS STRONGER
THAN YOUR WINDS
AND MY GOD IS
STRONGER THAN
ANY FUCKING STORM.

 

YOU CAN PUSH ME,
DROWN ME–
YOU CAN TRY
TO SHRED ME TO BITS.
BUT YOU. WILL NOT. BREAK ME.

 

YOU WILL NOT BREAK ME.

 

I am bruised, yes–
Scarred, forever–
I am writhing
In pain
And screaming
For redemption
But I remain
WHOLE.
As sure as
My soul
Still sings
As sure as
My body feels
The stings–

 

I AM HERE
I AM WHOLE

 

I have fears
But I, too,
Have hope

 

And I
AM NOT
BROKEN.
AND YOU
DON’T HAVE
THE POWER
TO BREAK ME.

 

Take a step back
Look at yourself
And know
That you are whole
Because
You are loved
Whether you see it
Or not
Whether you know it
Or not

 

YOU ARE LOVED

 

YOU ARE WHOLE

 

YOU
ARE NOT
BROKEN.

 

If you liked this piece and would like to share it, feel free to post a comment here or tweet me at @ninaterol. I’d be happy to share it, given the proper attribution. 🙂

 

Want to see more spoken word pieces from the Philippines, check out the YouTube channel of SPEAK PHILIPPINES (SPEAK Phils). You can also click on their Facebook page. You can also catch us TONIGHT at SEV’s CAFE, at the basement of Legaspi Towers 300, Vito Cruz corner Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila. Visit the Facebook page to view the map and other event and reservation details. 🙂
Speak Phils

Calling all Ateneo alumni! You can still submit creative work to Heights!

Calling all Ateneo alumni! Do you have creative pieces that have been locked up in your drawers and hidden hard drive folders, waiting to be dusted off and shared with the world? Heights has an open call for submissions until January 4, 2014–and we can still be part of it!

2nd WAVE. HEIGHTS WANTS YOUR WORK. Click on the image to visit the Heights website for details
2nd WAVE. HEIGHTS WANTS YOUR WORK. Click on the image to visit the Heights website for details

Here are the mechanics, taken from the Heights website:

FOR CONTRIBUTIONS YOU NEED TO KNOW THAT

You need not be a Heights member to contribute.

Heights accepts contributions year-round; however, there are deadlines for special issues (e.g. Seniors Folio).

You may contribute more than once.

All submitted and solicited works undergo staff deliberations. Works are published based on merit. The author’s identity is kept confidential.

MECHANICS FOR SUBMISSION

Write SUBMISSION as the subject of your e-mail.

Attach your work to the message. For written works, there are no limitations for the number of pages. Artworks should be in CMYK format with a resolution of 300 dpi. If you feel the need to include an artist’s statement, please do so.

Include a short bio-note or write-up, and your contact details.

SEND YOUR QUERIES AND ARTISTIC AND LITERARY WORKS

art.heights@gmail.com

heights.english@gmail.com

heights.filipino@gmail.com

Disclaimer: I am neither a member nor an alumna of Heights, but I’ve been a fan of their work through the decades and just want to share the message. Please direct your queries to the email addresses above. Thanks!