I didn't know spoken word poetry would make me happy, in the same way interpretive dance or performance art normally doesn't, unless you count sniggering at someone else's unfortunate career choice as happiness. I didn't know this despite Poetry and I having quite a history - in all those black hard cover journals in the attic there are so many poems, some quite bad and others woeful (when I am doing my month on misery, Maysery, I will share some of them...my pleasure), but I wrote a lot of poetry as only a super-drama queen can.
I remember receiving an unpublished book of poems from an aspiring poet(snigger) and he misguidedly wanted my feedback. Even back then, (my late 20s aka the decade of mega-delusion), I knew what made a bunch of words on a page, magical and it is the simplest and the hardest thing in the world: BEING REAL. Who you are, how you feel, what you think has to scream from the page loudly and genuinely to make words sing. Otherwise it is an essay, it has been said before, heard before and sounds awfully like someone trying to be someone they're not... and that gets boring real fast (I oughtta know). Of course earnestly believing in "being real" I didn't hold back and let him know in no uncertain terms how lacking his cryptic words without heart were.
The truth is it is REALLY hard to be REAL, poor guy. It is scary! I am constantly thinking, "what if so and so reads this or that, they will think I am mental!", then I remember that if they know me they already think that so the game is sort of up already.
Seriously though, it does take courage to be real in writing and about ten times that to be real to someone's face. And that is why I love this particular spoken word poet - Sarah Kay. In her Ted talk she says that "the number 1 rule of being cool today is to appear unphased" and she quite rightly goes on to imply that sort of fakeness ends up cutting you off from life, and more importantly doesn't allow you to connect with people. Connecting with people is in our DNA, it is what we truly crave and what makes us very happy. She would rather be truly engaged with the world, the good and the bad....even if that means being "uncool" (does that mean being daggy is at last cool? - did I just write that - oops).
Here is the last poem from her Ted talk (full version here), that shows that there is one thing she does know about life and that it is worth trying at, it is worth being a little phased, life is like that, so just be, but be IN it.
I also found this one after watching the one above and it is gorgeous in it's truth and whimsy. I hope Sarah Kay makes you happy too.
P.S. Thanks to Mike for suggesting I watch this - you were right she rocks!