I am a consumer in every sense of the word. I take what I am given and swallow it whole. There is no time to chew when you’re so hungry, all you can think of is your next meal. I did not know I was starving until I was put in a room with a feast.
My subscription box is filled with poetry, and I am a fan.
Yes, another teenager talking about YouTube and ‘How Much It Changed My Life’, ‘Look, I’m Crying’ – I’m a walking clickbait article. Shocker!!! Here’s the thing though, before I knew about open mics or poetry workshops or festival panels, my best friend sent me a link to a YouTube channel, and I was hooked.
I marathon-ed Button Poetry videos for a solid two weeks before coming up for air. Everything I said sounded like Desiree Dallagiacomo or Brenna Twohy were trying to burst out of my chest. This is a warning nobody gave me: watching too many spoken word poems in a row can lead to unnecessary metaphors, and also instil the need to gesture emphatically at everything.
I thought that was the end of it, because my head hurt and my chest was tight from all the feelings that these poets were unloading on me in two and a half high definition minutes. Surely, I thought, there’s a limit to how many hours I could watch people make beautiful art with their mouths and their oddly expressive shoulders. Except, Button Poetry currently has 915 videos on its channel, I have the Autoplay button on, and I never really learned the meaning of moderation.
YouTube is more than one channel, however. There are the larger than life ones- Poetry Slam Inc, speakeasynyc, SlamFind and YOUTHSPEAKS– that showcase artists across so many genres, whispering and shouting and arguing right to you. There is an intimacy to YouTube videos that rivals that of small spaces and hushed voices. Poetry, in every way, is music.
There is something to be said for how far reaching YouTube can be. Not everyone has the opportunity to sit in a TED talk for Sarah Kay, or attend slams and opens mics and workshops. YouTube, in its wonderful accessibility, has made it easier to both listen to and perform poetry for an audience. YouTube, like performance poetry, has always been a place for creativity and art that is alternative enough to not fit the mainstream. It is a place for everyone to become more than. Gone are the days where art was only meant for the ones who could afford it. The internet is here, and where there is an audience, there are performers.