Reducing Unemployment And Illiteracy Using Spoken Word Poetry – Olumide Holloway

Everybody has a need to express themselves. This need is most times expressed wrongly when the person is unable to find the right channel of expression. Most people love music, but not everybody can sing to save their life. Most people love jokes, but not everybody can make other people laugh. Likewise, acting, dancing, sports, spoken word poetry, etc. are all different modes of expression. This means that there is a mode of expression for different people.

Spoken word is a very powerful performance-based poetry that focuses on the aesthetics of word play and storytelling. It is often used in conjunction with other art forms, such as music, theatre, and dance, and has been an outlet for people, especially youths, to creatively express their views, emotions, or life experiences.

In Nigeria, spoken word poetry is an emerging art-form, which is gaining strong ground and attracting an ardent following, especially among the youths. With the growing popularity of this art form, spoken word poetry can be used to reduce unemployment rate, increase the level of literacy and possibly eradicate poverty. How is this possible? Well, spoken word poetry as an art form is naturally a perfect fit, as:


  • A genre of entertainment: The art form is one with great intellectual content and plenty of entertainment to keep the live audience excited and viewers glued to their seat. This art form is thus content for audio and/ or visual networks.
  • A tool to increase the level of literacy: There is no degree requirement for becoming a poet, and no degree program can guarantee that graduates will become good spoken word poets. However, the foundation for any poet is the ability to read and write. With this foundation, a poet will still need to develop and improve on his or her writing skills and increase their knowledge about all writing genres, and different aspects of life, i.e. politics, love, finance etc.  🙂
  • A medium of communication among people across the globe: the ability to express one’s emotions and thoughts in a clear and concise manner is an act of communication. Thus, most people are able to connect with a poet’s performance/ poem because it is something that they have experienced or at least know about.
  • A means of livelihood: This is the vision we have for this art form. And nowadays, we have very few spoken word poets who get paid to perform at events (sometimes themed events). However, for this art form to be a full-fledged means of livelihood, there is a major need for investment and support of this art form by individuals, corporate organizations and the Government.


Spoken word poetry captures all genres of people, the young, the old, and the high net-worth individuals. Given its intrinsic value, it is an art form with the potential to keep the youths (and the general populace) entertained, educated, and employed.



My first credit analysis training was by HRH Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. This was in 2008 when he was the Chief Risk Officer of a first-generation bank in Nigeria.

The fundamental lesson of that day was the application of the Risk Pyramid in our credit reviews. This lesson stayed with me till date.


Ok, so in your in mind you are wondering that now that I’m a full-time poet, wetin concern Risk Pyramid with spoken word poetry? Well, I believe the Risk Pyramid affects every aspect of life, thus even poets need it to plan and strategize.


So let’s get right into it.

The Risk Pyramid comprises five levels. At the base you have country risk, next / on top of it is industry risk, then management/ non-financial risk, then financial risk and at the top of the pyramid is product risk. As a spoken word poet, you are the product.


/    \

/         \

/  Product  \

/   Financial  \

/ Non-financial \

/     Industry    \

/        Country   \



Let’s start from the base:



This is general to everyone, but the interpretation differs from person to person and industry to industry. Country risks can be categorized under PESTLE, which is broken down as follows: Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental.

Political – as a poet, do you know how new government policies affect you? E.g. the proposed Hate Speech bill – if your poetry video goes viral, can your words be classified as “hate speech?” What about taxation? Hope you know the tax net is widening to capture as many as possible. Also, change of government, insecurity, lack of power/ electricity etc all come under political issues.

Economic: this has to do with the economy of the Nation, as it relates to Central Bank policies, inflation rate, deposit rate, stock market, money market, unemployment, purchasing power, etc. Two key questions to ask, even if everything above sounds technical are, are the middle class still in the middle? If not, why?

Social: for this one I will drill down to just two major segments. These are demographic and psychographic factors. Demographic relates to age, gender, religion, education level, income, etc. Psychographic relates to values, interests, lifestyle, attitude, opinion, etc. To increase your chances of success/ sale/ growth, knowing and attending to the psychographic factors to get customers and clients would help you more.

Technological: how are you leveraging technology to grow your career? Video, podcast, Apps, A.I, etc. They are there for you to add value to your craft.

Legal: do you have a lawyer or lawyer friend who helps you draft agreements and read through the contracts from other parties before you sign?

Environmental: issues affecting your physical location e.g. weather.


Next on the Risk Pyramid is:



Let me illustrate this with something I heard recently.

A poet performed at an event that was “seeming” critical of a certain class of people. After his performance, he was confronted by this certain class of people, and was told that if he had done the poem at another event, his poetry career would be over.

Personally, I don’t believe flesh and blood can end any poet’s career.

But as a poet, please know that reputational risk is a key issue in any industry.

Also, there are always “power centers” in every industry, and you don’t have to be James to bond with them. In this context, power centers are people, not places. But note, not all power centers are for you, so choose wisely.



This basically has to do with you and your team.
So the question to ask here is: who u b? Wetin u don do?
Sorry, I mean, who are you?
What have you done/ achieved?
People want to know your experience, your pedigree, your track record, your achievements, etc.

If you are saying you can do something, you should be able to show what you have done before.
If as a poet, you want to perform on the big stage, but you have no video of your past performance (s), most organizers won’t allow you on their platform.

Why do you think most poets like to be called “award-winning poet?”
They are trying to show they have pedigree.

Most brands won’t sponsor a new show/ event unless they are sure the organizers have a track record of well-organized events.

So build your track record to boost your chances for the big bucks/ big stage.



This is a game of numbers, which can include:

How many views do you have on your video(s)?
How many video/ audio downloads?
How many people came to your show?
How many brands partnered with you?
What’s your cost? Is it reasonable?

Know your numbers.
Know your costs.
Learn to count so you can be counted.
And make the numbers count.



This is you. In the risk pyramid, you are the product. Thus, you need to be able to answer the following questions, or at least work towards them. These are:
What is your USP?
Are you bankable?
Are you valuable?
Your value is in your function, and you, and/or your event, is the transaction.
What are the transaction dynamics of your event?
Is it an investable event?

No matter how good you are, if you don’t know how to “sell yourself,” you won’t achieve much. So learn to stand out until you are outstanding.
As a poet, learn the business of your craft. Invest in knowledge, research, and smart work so you can win in life.

I’m available to help with your condition.



Olumide Holloway (King Olulu) is a Poetprenuer, Gifted Storyteller, Screenwriter, Author, and Spoken Word Poet. He has always enjoyed writing and has been an active writer for most of his life. His 12 years of experience (as a Credit Analyst) in a financial institution also helped to improve the quality of his writing.

He likes to build capacity in people using words as a tool of impact, mode of expression, and medium of communication. This allows him to address issues that affect society, such as education, employment, entrepreneurship, empowerment, expression, entertainment, emotional therapy, and emotional intelligence. He is also passionate about Spoken Word Poetry as a genre of entertainment, a tool to increase the level of literacy, a means of livelihood, and a medium of communication among people across the globe.

He is the Co-founder and Chief Content Curator of , a spoken word poetry streaming platform. He is currently doing an MA in Creative Writing in the United Kingdom.

You can follow him on his blog – and connect with him via Twitter @olulu4ever and Instagram @olulutheking

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