Passionate Geek: Spoken Word Poetry

Passionate Geek is a monthly feature of someone exploring and sharing something they are passionate (and geeky!) about!

Background Artwork by Rose B. Fischer
Background Artwork by Rose B. Fischer.

Today’s Passionate Geek is Sabina! Sabina is a blogger charmed by stories, travel, and photography. You can find her at her blog, Victim to Charm  on Twitter @sabinaleybold  and on Instagram @sabinaleybold.


The microphone was too short, but I was too nervous to fix it. I probably would’ve knocked the whole thing over.

“I’m Sabina, and it’s my first time reading,” I said, adjusting to hearing my own voice amplified.

The crowd of the Portland Poetry Slam cheered and flailed their “muppet arms” in the air as a gesture of welcoming and comfort.

“I turned 19 this week,” I said, interrupted by a few isolated whoops from the audience. “So I wrote this poem: 18 Things I Learned at 18.”

They snickered at the title—and probably their own reflections of their 18th years—as I took a deep breath, attempted to steady my trembling hands, and began reading the words I’d written.

Their snaps punctuated my experiences, and I felt understood and empowered. I was hooked on poetry.

Portland Poetry Slam

When I returned to college in the fall, I joined Spit That!, the spoken word poetry club on campus. We bring in work to share at the beginning, and then the rest of the meeting is dedicated to writing on a communal prompt and sharing those pieces.

There’s only one rule: no disclaimers. No putting down your own work or making excuses for what you’re about to read. It doesn’t matter if you wrote the piece in five minutes or if you don’t love it yet, you have to let it speak for itself.

“If you’re up there, you’re awesome and we love you,” Spit That!’s leaders say.

That’s my favorite part about the poetry community. It doesn’t work unless vulnerability is met with respect and support, and we’re all committed to making that happen.

spit that

Getting involved in spoken word poetry isn’t difficult, since the community spreads far and wide, including into the depths of the Internet. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Watch. If you can, in-person poetry events like the Portland Poetry Slam are best, since they represent a wider range of topics and skill levels. If not, videos on YouTube (I highly recommend Button Poetry) are a great way to see what it’s all about.
  2. Write. Poetry is awesome because there are no rules. Attention to rhythm and sounds is good, but you don’t have to rhyme or count syllables to write a poem.
  3. Perform. This is the part that scares most people. Public speaking is hard enough, but being vulnerable on a stage where you’ve seen a ton of amazing professional poets perform is difficult. As with most things, the first time is the hardest, and it gets easier once that barrier is broken. But it’s so worth it—people can’t support your incredible work if they don’t hear it, and reading your poetry makes you instantly part of that community.

Get up there, and I’ll snap for you. No disclaimers.



Want to share what you’re geeky and passionate about!  I’d love to have you write a post — just drop me a line and let me know!


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