Welcome & Morning Keynote

Welcoming Remarks from Nikki Young and Wendy Ramond

Keynote by Gabriel Angrand

In the last few decades or so, spoken word has emerged as a poetry medium for all people. Open mic poetry venues are increasingly focused on expression before performance, which is different from the slam competition spaces that have also become popular over the same time scale. Poets have become spokespersons for political ideologies, moral positions, and calls for reflection and they have also re-emerged as multi-faceted entertainers in the public sphere. This keynote presents spoken word poetry, with its rich history and association with culture, as a workspace and home for joy, specifically. What we often find in spoken word spaces is an emphasis on cracking the surface of negative emotions to expose their complex past, present, and/or future contexts. And yet, given four dimensions of communication, this medium is also a tool for sharing joy. Joy, in this case, is not simply a temporal happiness, but a mindset and heart posture. It is a lens that reveals the beauty in one another with the utmost clarity. And as we continue wrestling with all that is wrong in society, our joy is what will help us resist the insidiousness of despair.