The power of speech can pack a lot of punch into a poem—which is what spoken word is all about. With volume, speed, inflection, and expression, poets are able to infuse their work with life and personality through spoken word. If you’re a fan of the art, or if you’re just now getting your feet wet, we’ve created a list of our 7 favorite poetry channels on YouTube.
Hear from some of the greatest spoken word and slam poets of our time such as Rudy Francisco, Olivia Gatwood, Sierra DeMulder, and more. Founded in 2011, Button Poetry began as a website and blog. Today, viewers can find nearly 2,000 videos of spoken word performances.
This L.A.-based poetry venue has been in operation since 1998 and is home to the largest weekly open mic in the country. Affectionately known as DPL, the organization aims to create a communal space for people to be heard. With over 300 spoken word performances recorded, viewers can watch a whole range of talented poets across endless genres and topics.
Poetry Slam, Inc. (or PSI) is a non-profit organization that oversees the international coalition of poetry slams. They also hold an annual National Poetry Slam, which grew from just three competing teams in 1990 to a whopping 84 in 2017. In addition to the national competition, the host the Individual World Poetry Slam and the Women of the World Poetry Slam—whose first champion was none other than Andrea Gibson. Today, viewers can find nearly 600 spoken word performances on PSI’s YouTube channel.
For those who feel a sense of pride watching young poets bloom, Poetry Out Loud is the perfect channel to help you feel inspired. This national arts education program is geared toward high school students, helping them master public speaking skills, build confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Their competition begins at the classroom-level, where winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional/state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. Viewers can find recordings of contestants at the finals and semifinals, advice from judges, tips on performance, and much more on their channel.
Many of us may be familiar with the Poetry Foundation, as their website is one of the largest archives of poetry from across the world, from pre-1600 to present-day. Publisher of Poetry magazine, the Poetry Foundation works to raise poetry to a more visible and influential position in our culture. Their YouTube channel is home to not just spoken word performances, but a number of interviews, news stories, animations, and behind-the-scenes looks at how books are made.
Produced by the Academy of American Poets, Poets.org is another go-to resource for poems, poets’ biographies, essays, and educational materials. On their YouTube channel, viewers can find readings from great poets like Sharon Olds, Allen Ginsberg, Lucille Clifton, and more. In addition to over 150 poetry readings, viewers can find videos from the organization’s charming Dear Poet campaign. Dear Poet invites students from 5th through 12th grade to write letters in response to poems written and read by the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors. The poets then respond in video format in honor of National Poetry Month.
We couldn’t make this list without giving ourselves a little shout out. At Read Poetry, we aim to provide a space where poets, writers, and readers can explore identity, diversity, and empowerment. Our YouTube channel is home to interviews and live readings from talented poets such as Yung Pueblo, Amanda Lovelace, Courtney Peppernell, and more. As you browse our videos and others, we hope you find a soft place to land.