Spoken word is a performance art that is word-based. It often includes collaboration and experimentation with other art forms such as music, theater, and dance. However, spoken word usually tends to focus on the words themselves, the dynamics of tone, gestures, facial expressions, and not so much on the other art forms.
In entertainment, spoken-word performances generally consist of storytelling or poetry, exemplified by people like Hedwig Gorski, Gil Scott Heron and the lengthy monologues by Spalding Gray.
The art of spoken-word poetry has existed for many centuries. The Ancient Greeks included spoken-word poetry in their Olympic Games.
Modern spoken-word poetry originated from the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance and blues music as well as the 1960s beatniks.
The term "spoken word" was first adopted to explain the new art coming out of the postmodern art movement.