One unexplored aspect of Jordan’s arts scene is spoken word poetry. Here, one can find musicians from almost every genre: hip hop artists, rappers, MCs, rock bands and even jazz. But the spoken word scene has yet to be discovered as an artistic tradition. Indeed, there have been a few spoken word events independently organized, opening Jordanian ears to a new artistic phenomenon.
One such event, Beats & Breath, was held on January 20, 2011, at Books@ Café. The event was meant to not only introduce the spoken word scene to Jordan, but also ensure it grows and develops: This event was meant to be the launch to a series of spoken word events hosted by youinjordan.com to be held on a monthly basis.
Although it was a new initiative, the event, which included a mix of spoken word poetry, emceeing, beat boxing and djing, proved to be extremely successful, drawing a large crowd of almost 300 people from all backgrounds – locals, expats, diplomats, students and tourists. The performers were from as varied of backgrounds: Aysha El Shamayleh is an award-winning Spoken Word artist and published poet. MC Amer is a multitalented emcee, producer and rapper gracing the streets of Amman with Arabic lyrics covering political, social and identity issues. DJ Sotusura is one of the well-known DJs in the Middle East, holding down two radio shows – “Urban Beats” on the Jordanian radio station Beat FM and “The Art of Rap,” an international hip hop show in the New York based internet Radio 23.
The show began with an opening by one of the hottest beat boxers in town, Tha’er. Indeed, his talents simply magnetized the crowd, who showed their enthusiasm by snapping, clapping and cheering with every new beat. The show was then led by Spoken Word Poet Aysha and MC Amer. Alternating between spoken word and hip hop, the two artists held their own in front of a crowd that wasn’t always easy to manage. Their lyrics touched upon a wide array of issues, political, economic and social in nature.
However, despite the generality of the topics, the content brought out the individuality of each of the artists – each topic was discussed from a personal perspective. Social issues touched upon domestic violence. Political issues touched upon the artists’ experience living in Amman. Relationships and love, or lack thereof, did not escape the night either, and by the end of the evening, the crowd had felt a stronger connection with both performers.
Needless to say, the results of the evening speak to the interest of the community to explore new ways of defining art and music. This event series makes it possible to assume that many more like it will continue to develop in Amman’s arts and poetry scene.
Check the facebook page for upcoming events: www.facebook.com/youinjordan.