Speaking Out and Spoken Word

Speaking Out

This isn’t poetry of the page
This is… is this.?. This is…
Me reaching out to gently touch you

I have been looking for my voice

In their voice my voice stuttering, other voices merging to
shouts uttering muttering confusion
jamming my words
leaving world noise crashing into me
It shuts me down.

Everyone pretends
to be something else
People trying to be:
loudest, sweetest, prettiest, smartest
est est est, always est
pretending to be est

I have been looking for my voice
to get attention
my voice trying to be someone else
Being taught to make noise is to feel alive
Pretending to be
est, smoothest, est coolest, est est est
Those est actions might speak louder than words
but they aren’t me

I don’t want
I want, to float
Words like wind, to move, just to move

I need my voice to reach out… as me

To find my voice
I will change the rules
shift the world
with gentle words
lift the world
so you might hear what I have to say

I have been looking for my voice
Because without it
I am alone

I am not alone
Speaking now quietly
It becomes possible to hear… you
Its hearing you…
You hearing me…
In sharing
That alone goes away

In sharing…
I found my voice

Why live pretending to be someone else?

To learn of myself, I explored spoken word poetry. On one level, becoming a spoken word poet was an interesting choice, as later I remembered, oh yah: I have this lisp. I know I have a lisp, but it doesn’t define me to me. Over the years the lisp has relaxed quite a bit, to be very minimal, but it’s a part of me, and while I never hear my lisp, at times I remember and smile knowing it’s there to mark me distinctly. It’s funny; I remember being eight years old and purposely deciding to keep the lisp. I knew it was wrong to have others tell me how I should define myself.

The importance of my becoming a spoken word artist was to learn how to focus an experience into a coherent topic for direct communication with others. My written-word poetry in comparison was turned inward for self-communication. Over time my poetry has merged into combining aspects of both spoken word and written word. The spoken word poetry tends to expose my actions and feelings to the world (body and spirit), while the written poetry moves with the spinning of my mind. Combining these two forms helps me discover a complete expression of my own nature.

The lesson I learned from being both a spoken and written word artist is how we are each a poem of our own personal expression. Our portraits glimmer from many different angles of expression. Finding ourselves is as much a matter of speaking out loud, as to think and accept what we feel inside. We have to speak to be heard, for silent, we only take upon our internal meaning and the corresponding nature that others will assign to us.

Read the poems in the book aloud and within your mind, and you will discover different meanings in each poem. The poem in this section especially calls out to be read aloud to a mirror, to an audience. Discover that your own nature calls out to be spoken for.


  • Spoken word poetry is quite different than written poetry. The word choices and grammar are changed entirely for verbal impact. When spoken, the poet mixes in body language for additional meaning. The words tend to be very exposing while nuances are carried thru voice tone.  Another difference is that the mental medium is quite different:  a listening mind interprets language differently than the mind which reads a poem. Overall the spoken word style is a very vibrant, dynamic performance art which reveals our humanity in raw and cutting angles. Performing spoken word becomes a disturbingly honest opening of one’s soul revealed for all to see and hear. When done to form, it isn’t acting; it’s performance art of a very personal nature.
  • If someone else cannot understand my writing, then it is often true that I don’t truly understand my poetry.

What are you looking for in life?

I had this question come up from a student the other day.

My assumption is that there is something we are ‘searching’ for. At some point in our lives, we all have been wondering, wandering, meandering, having tried (or being on) some spiritual, or philosophical, or religious paths, etc. I’ll be blunt I am curious: what is everyone looking for? What is your quest?

I’m asking the question b/c I recently concluded that I don’t know anymore what it is that I’m looking for…

So I will give you the answer now:

The answer is… “IS”.

Yep, the word “IS” is where the quest hides! People focus on what comes after the “is” -> the destination, but the “is” itself represents the journey to the destination. So in this sense, the answer really is “IS”. Let’s look at the word IS for a second for a clue on how we seek our quests:

Is = the third person singular present of be.

So definitions of “is” include:

1. To exist.

Yes for many people the quest of life is merely to be… to exist. For people like this, they are simply happy to be alive in the moment. These are people focused in the now.

2. to occur; take place.

And yes for many people the thing that drives them is to experience something that is to occur. Which is why once they achieve something they then feel empty. In other words for people like this, the meaning of life is the journey. These are the people focused towards the future.

3. having the state, quality, identity, nature, role, etc., specified.
“Amy was 91.”

And also yes for many people the meaning of their life was a single event or something that happened to them. This references those people who live in the past.

So the meaning of life simply, IS.

It’s how you apply the IS that changes how you should look at the question. So you have to look at a person’s tense to help understand their quest in life.

So the answer while simple: simply IS. We make how we hold it complicated by our stories.

The path to holding oneself often twists into confusing perceptions of destinations that shift into ever-changing viewpoints.

As I wrote earlier in the summer, the meaning of life evolves as you evolve. It isn’t a static concept. So you also have to factor in where you are in life and allow of for change over time. So a person in their twenties might be looking for a good job or partner while in the 70’s for many people it shifts into finding a legacy. When we are younger, it is easier to go from tangible point to tangible point. As we get older, the tangible points get fuzzier and fuzzier. At some point, the concept of what quest is driving you can even become meaningless once you have assembled a broad enough view of life.

It’s still a worthy question for everyone to ponder, but just not too heavily.

A clue if you struggle for a personal answer:

(1) Untangle away the destinations of stories first: this is the becoming empty process Taoism teaches.
(2) Hold your essence lightly and rediscover grace in all the options
(3) Pick the option that opens the smile in a way you enjoy most.

Then Jump back into your quest.

The other exciting aspect is, of course, it partially depends on your outlook in life. If you are a person who strives for enlightenment thru wholeness for example, then your meaning will similarly have wholeness be a significant aspect of your quest. If you are more Buddhist and working towards release, the purpose will also include release within your quests of life.

Taoist’s are a bit open-ended on this, generally speaking, we tend to be more in the moment; to allow for many different quests and meanings to co-exist alongside each other as we explore life. To a Taoist, quests in life should be both fun and always a life opening experience. Never shy away from the random quests that come up to you and ask you to explore.

Speaking Out Our Truth in Our Words


Joseph Chamberlain 2003

Personal Thoughts About the Poem

Speaking out is to discover one’s soul.
Moving on is simply the process of coordinating thought and action to be the same.
Yet often times we have to speak our personal truth before moving on.


Lady Mars Aug 2003

Personal Thoughts About the Poem

Speaking out to hear one’s own soul.
The beat still applies.


Words are models and representations: words are taken too far when: people take them too seriously or judge life to them. So many people literally build prisons and dungeons based solely on the words bantered about. As a Taoist teacher, I work with patience as students trip over the words rather than releasing into the poetry of no meaning and multiple meanings at once.

We are taught to define words (Webster’s greatest achievement is his greatest sin also), and that is the trap: as in once we begin to define those pesky words it bounces back to limit our own life, our own shape.

The Tao is the Tao…
No definitions please,
release into the Tao simply as
discovering how to swim
with the poetry of your life.

Words will cascade down waterfalls
Don’t tumble after such meaning
But do dive into it also
coming back up wet
refreshed with most ironically
new meanings each and every time.

Words From a Poet

As a poet, I like to play in words. It’s jumping into a pool of water that leads everywhere. So I play.

In teaching Taoism. I have already covered long ago the important key elements: kindness, grace, Pu, potential, Wu Wei, empty space, removing judgment, etc. If you look at what people write, most teachings primarily rehashes how to apply these key elements in different manners to one’s life.

When poems seem as preaching, well a poem is never meant as a pulpit. Poets play in words, not to slam them out as fact to build a better world but rather to show angles of potential. Kindness is the path for building a better world. Kindness from action and not words.

Every person has many faces, many angles to explore. Poems are inner moments to share, not to change the world, not to pretend to be smart, not to say I have all the answers: but to say: here is how I poke about, how I play in my life.

To anyone who gets judgmentally critical of a poem. Well please don’t bend words around too seriously as such judgmental inspection usually misses the point of the poem entirely. At times I just shake my head at the way people take things and literally abuse a poem.

Take all sour apples elsewhere as I make mine into pie… Pie! :) is good

Life is pie, you can have it thrown in your face or you can make it tasty and have fun. At times poets do both, I have eaten enough pie off my face, it isn’t a big deal…

Life is pie.

Speaking Out Your Truth

Don’t take answers to be held inside as your only truth.

Take answers inward to reflect against your ideals, smash them together then speak about the pieces that come out. This will help polish your personal stories to be bright and reflective of your own inner nature.

Working with Your Inner Story

Keep your life story simple, by not trying to only live one story. Understand you have an inner story, that is all yours and goes beyond words.

Then you have the stories that are shared with others: Mother, father, son, worker, artist and all so many stories to hold and describe neatly with our words and actions.

Don’t try to use only words to describe the inner story as if you do; it limits a person to only those things described in words. This is the trap why people get overly defined by their outer stories as a worker or by others. Our inner self is more undefined than we realize. Our spiritual self always goes beyond words. Words are for the physical to model our world, yet our inner self goes to many states of being where our physical self can only dream about.

Explore Your Essence

Essence is Your Core Nature

Knowing your Essence
Smoothes Out
Your Life

Explore Taoism

Live life kindly, gracefully, with modesty while embracing a colorful story to enjoy!

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