Verbal Inflections and Performance Strategies Deployed in Open-Mic Poetry in Kenya
This paper examines verbal inflections and performance strategies used in open-mic performance poetry, a sub-genre of spoken word poetry in Kenya. Since 2003, Performance poetry has gained greater recognition in Kenya illustrating the impact of captivating verbal choices at play in crafted, theatrical, and nonlinear dialogues between open-mic poets and their audience. Using selected open-mic poems, this paper describes how this sub-genre engages various verbal inflections in (re)presenting our everyday issues in society. Anchored on an interactionist stance, the study proceeds from an understanding that art should be viewed not as a disembodied product, but as a collection of dynamic social and interactional processes. While using textual analysis, this paper unravels verbal inflections used in selected open-mic poems in Kenya. It further interrogates ways in which open-mic poets deploy various performance strategies to make their performances lively, captivating and to deliver their intended messages. The paper argues that the emergence of open-mic poetry in Kenya has prompted performance poets to construct their own identities as artists. In doing so, these poets strive to define a uniquely Kenyan open-mic poetry sub-genre that enables them preserve their identities while capitalizing on benefits that this emerging art brings to them in (re)presenting societal concerns.
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