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You are here: Home > Writing in Education > Writing at University > Writing in Practice > Current Issue > Vol. 7 > x13 - Moved through the screen by Jack McGowan
x13 - Moved through the screen by Jack McGowan
Author: Jack McGowan
Experiencing spoken word through digital media platforms
Attachments: WiP 2021 13 JM.pdf


While attendance at performance poetry and spoken word events is on the rise, the dominant modes of encounter and consumption of contemporary spoken word rely much more heavily on digital platforms than on live performance, with views of high profile spoken word videos and clips reaching well into the millions. This paper explores the contention that the transmission of affect (the movement of feeling and emotional states which forms an experiential cornerstone of live poetry performance) is also a key part of the experience of spoken word viewed digitally through multimodal platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, and other file sharing networks. While it is immutable that affect cannot be physically passed between bodies in the context of digital media consumption, this paper contends that the production of powerful affective drives within the body of the viewer is nonetheless assisted by the performance of spoken word viewed through a digital medium. Drawing from material affect theories and an examination of online communities, this paper presents a case for the consumption of spoken word via multimodal digital platforms as a site par excellence for the encounter and exchange of affect, as well as the proliferation of bold and socially engaged spoken word content. In doing so, the paper articulates new ways of thinking about the relationship between modes of consumption in performance poetics, and the importance of such creative practice in the contemporary digital world.  Of particular note, there are also clear implications for Creative Writing pedagogy that can be drawn out of this intersection between creative practice and the digital space. Reconsidering the role of multimodal platforms in producing and receiving contemporary spoken word provides new opportunities to inspire socially informed and digitally engaged study.

Keywords: spoken word, affect, performance poetics, multimodality, digital media, pedagogy