The Rise Of Spoken Word Poetry In Nigeria

Over the years we’ve seen many art events like comedy and music take center stage in different parts of the world. The new addition to Nigeria’s entertainment industry, is Spoken Word Poetry.

Spoken word poetry is a form of poetry taken out of its literary written context and dramatized through a vocal medium. Unlike other forms of poetry, spoken word is written to be performed. The art has been in existence for a long time but it is just coming to limelight in Nigeria’s entertainment industry.

When one listens to some spoken word performances, they can be likened to rap music but spoken word poets are not rappers, they are creative performers who make use of words and delivery in a rhythmic style. They make use of rhythm, rhymes and punch lines, and other elements that make the art stand out.

The rise of spoken word movement in Nigeria can be traced back to a decade or so, with the likes of Sage Hasson, who is regarded as Nigerian’s premier spoken word poet, championing the cause. But recently, the art branched out in search for publicity when some spoken word poets came together to aggressively create awareness through different events.



Speaking with the promoter of WordUp, the biggest spoken word event in Nigeria, Olumide Holloway, he said “Spoken word poetry event in Nigeria is growing, though we’ve not gotten to where we are supposed to be but we are getting there”.

Olumide said the art is getting bigger by the day. He also made it known that the art needs sponsors in order to gain a better leverage.  “The key places that we need help from is funding and awareness because awareness brings funding and funding brings awareness”.

He said that spoken word poetry has few funders because most corporate organizations do not understand the significance of the art form. Olumide said they need more people in the entertainment industry to show interest in the art.

Also speaking with the season three winner of war of words, Graciano Gracious Enweren, he said “With the help from God and spoken word artists in Nigeria, poetry will be recognized like any other art.”

Graciano added that “many people need to be schooled on what the art form is about, in order not to get the wrong breeds of poets”. He also emphasized on the opportunity the art form creates. For example, wordup gave him the opportunity to showcase his talent.

Meanwhile, K- Meks Otuya believes spoken word poetry is not just performing art but a medium to pass a positive message, “It is a medium where stories can be told message can be passed across to individuals and people.”

He also added, “spoken word poetry is going to hit the industry. There was a time when nobody knew anything about comedy but today comedians are well recognized. Spoken word is getting to that point”.

Another spoken word poet, Foursyte Bogani, cautioned poets against the culture of comparison in the industry. “We should not compare the foreign industry with Nigeria because we are still developing,” he said.


David Atilola is a Student-Journalist, with a keen interest in development journalism. He is presently studying Mass Communication at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism. He is also a spoken word artist,who believes poetry is a tool to effect a positive social change in the society. David is a Social media enthusiast and writer, using his little voice to speak change to the lives of youths. Follow David on twitter @davidatilola

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