Dr. Joshua Bennett

Spoken Word

Spoken Word

The Story of How Performance Poetry Changed the World


The powerful story of an art form that has transformed the cultural landscape, by one of its most influential practitioners: an award-winning poet, professor and slam champion.

In 2009, at only twenty years old, Joshua Bennett was invited to recite a poem for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House's Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word. Spike Lee and Saul Williams were in the audience, and it turned out to be the very same event where Lin-Manuel Miranda first performed a work-in-progress that revolutionised musical theatre - Hamilton.

With passion, wit and erudition, in Spoken Word Bennett takes us on his own electrifying coming-of-age journey as a writer, alongside the rise of spoken-word poetry and its origins in America. Blending memories of his personal encounters with influential figures, his path to becoming an award-winning poet and his academic insight into the history that shaped the scene, he tells the story of how a handful of visionaries created spaces for underrepresented artists to experiment with new forms of art.

Taking us back to the early days of spoken-word poetry through to Amanda Gorman, Common, Jill Scott, Dave Chappelle, DMX and Kanye West reciting their original poems on television, Bennett shows how a few passionate artists sparked a movement that forever changed the world.