figures of speech, and word choices. These choices allow the author's ideas to be expressed uniquely and creatively. Sometimes those choices are so unusual that one can only guess the poet’s intent. This leaves the reader free to imagine... to create a meaning of their own. The fluidity and flexibility of the genre are part of its many gifts, a fact that was recognized recently when, in 2016, the Swedish Academy awarded Bob Dylan the Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."
The only real difference between spoken word poetry and other forms is the initial intent. When the poet sits down to write, a decision is made as to whether this particular work will be spoken aloud or written. Read, or heard.
Poets in earlier centuries wrote primarily for recitation as much of the populace could not read, including those in the upper or royal classes. Many poems that we read for ourselves today were originally written to be spoken aloud.
Spoken-word poetry was later embraced by the American Beat Poet movement of the 1940s and 1950s. At its height, we heard the works of Ginsberg, Huncke, Corso, Vega, di Prima, Kaufman, and Burroughs, to name a few. For a while, this form of poetry faded from popularity until seeing a resurgence in the 1990s. Spoken-word is still alive and well. And growing. Current artists include Safia Elhillo, Kat Francois, Andrea Spisto, Alok Vaid-Menon, and Andrea Gibson.
You can see spoken word poets perform their works at different venues and compete at poetry slams. You may be interested in scanning YouTube to see the last World Poetry Slam held in 2019. To get you started, here is a link to Aiya Meilani, one of the youth finalists at the World Poetry Slam. Take a listen and be amazed.
Currently, it doesn't seem to me that poetry is widely read. So how are people to be exposed to poetry, how are they going to learn to love it? Inaugural poems are an amazing moment of exposure. During most presidential inaugurations in recent past decades, the citizenry is glued to their televisions, watching the pomp and celebration.
In 1993, Maya Angelou, the first black inaugural poet, recited On the Pulse of the Morning at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. Richard Blanco, the first Latino and the only openly gay inaugural poet to date spoke One Today at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2013. Elizabeth Alexander spoke Praise Song for the Day in 2009 at Obama's first inauguration. The Hill We Climb is a spoken word poem written by American poet Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet, and recited by her at Joe Biden's inauguration.