"Spoken word is a powerful tool for self-expression, empowerment, and activism."

Giddy Perez is an international touring spoken-word poet, teaching artist and Cultural Ambassador. She is originally from Brooklyn, New York, currently residing in Tampa, Fl. Some of her competition accolades include ranking 10th in the world at the Women of the World Individual Poetry Slam in 2014 and placing 2nd with her team in 2011 and 2013 at Southern Fried Poetry Slam, the 2nd largest poetry slam competition in the country. In addition to performing, Giddy is an active teaching artist with the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and a program director at the Gustavus Adolphus College Institute of Spoken Word and Slam Poetry, an annual writing summer camp for high school students. Giddy was one of the six urban artists who were here discovering how urban art forms can make a positive difference in communities. The programme, called Celebrate the Connections, was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. 

How would you explain spoken word as a creative medium to someone unfamiliar? 

Spoken word is the art of performance poetry. It’s heavily influenced by hip-hop, jazz, and storytelling as a form of cultural preservation. Spoken word is a powerful tool for self-expression, empowerment, and activism.

Spoken word seems to be quite political, or provide quite incisive social commentary. What are your views?

Absolutely. Whether personal or political, spoken word is an agent of change because it sheds light on other’s experience and stories.

How were you introduced to spoken word poetry?

I started as a freestyle and beat boxer, but in 2007, I attended an open mic where I witnessed the art of spoken word poetry for the first time.  I challenged myself to try it and the rest is history. 

Who inspires you? In the literary sense and in your day-to-day life?

Artistically, I am very inspired by our youth poetry scene here in Tampa, FL who are constantly evolving and working to make the world a better place. In my day-to-day life—well, that’s easy. It’s my mom. Her strength, love, and generosity are a constant motivating force in my art and my life.  

What makes a good performance poem? 

Authenticity.  Confidence.  Relevance. Body language. And for me personally, humor!

How does the spoken word scene compare with other social literary movements? 

Like all social literary movements in the past, spoken word preserves a specific history. The difference, however, is spoken word is an art form of the people and is directly tied to our generation. Also, spoken word is incredibly inclusive, where other literary movements in the past have been elite and exclusionary. If academic poetry is an entire, spoken word is a melting pot. 

How has your experience been in Kolkata?

Kolkata is the first city I’ve ever visited outside the U.S.! The people were incredibly welcoming and treated each of us like family rather than tourists. My time there left me with a new found appreciation for the small things in life. 

What advice would you give to young people interested in performance poetry?

I would tell them to do their research. Check out a local open mic, watch spoken word online, and familiarize themselves with the art form in order to help find own their voice. I’d also let them know that their voice is the MOST important voice. They are not only the future of this world but of this art form!

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