Slam Scholarship and Research

The poetry slam provides a unique insight into our culture.  The flavor and texture of the slam changes with time and location.  The poetry slam you saw in Chicago in 1990 is very different than the slam you'll find in Charlotte in 2016.  It is this ability for slam to both reflect and shape the culture in which it finds itself that makes it a fascinating field for study and scholarship.  Almost from the beginning academics have mined the poetry slam for insights in fields ranging from literature to political science, from sociology to philosophy.

We invite you to take a taste of the scholarly resources related to slam that are presented below.  If you know of additional resources we should list here, drop us a line!  And most important, avail yourself of the resources you find here at P4 and in slams across the world to create your own original research.  If you do, please share it with us!

Books and Theses

Aptowicz, Cristin O'Keefe
Words in Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam
Soft Skull Press, 2007

Bearder, Pete
Stage Invasion: Poetry & The Spoken Word Renaissance
Out-Spoken Press, 2020

Johnson, Amber Lauren
"We Don't Write Just to Write; We Write to Be Free": A Rhetorical Ethnography of Spoken Word in Los Angeles
Thesis, Penn State, 2006

Johnson, Javon
Killing Poetry.  Blackness and the Making of Slam and Spoken Word Communities
Rutgers University Press, 2017 (forthcoming)

Schmid, Julie Marie
Performance, poetics, and place: public poetry as a community art
Thesis, University of Iowa, 2000

Somers-Willet, Susan B. A.
The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry: Race Identity, and the Performance of Popular Verse in America
University of Michigan Press, 2009

Articles and Papers

Blitefield, Jerry
Populist Poetry or Rantum Scantum? The Civil Disobedients of Slam Poetry
in "Rhetorical Democracy: Discursive Practices of Civic Engagement", edited by Gerard Hauser and Amy Grim, Routledge Press, 2004

Bruce, Heather E, and Davis, Bryan Dexter
Slam: Hip-Hop Meets Poetry--A Strategy for Violence Intervention
The English Journal, Vol. 89, No. 5; May 2000

Ellis, Lindsay; Gere, Anne Ruggles; Lamberton, Jill
Out Loud: The Common Language of Poetry
The English Journal; Vol. 93, No. 1; September 2003

Gilpin, Chris
Slam Poetry Does Not Exist: How a Movement has been Misconstrued as a Genre.  
Canadian Review of Literature in Performance, Issue 8

Gioia, Dana
Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture
The Hudson Review; Volume 56, No. 1; Spring 2003

Hoffman, Tyler
Treacherous Laughter: The Poetry Slam, Slam Poetry, and the Politics of Resistance
Studies in American Humor, Series 3, No. 8; 2001

Phillips, Glenn Allen
Slamming in(to) the Ivory Tower: A Consideration of Slam as Method
UNESCO Observatory Multi-Disciplinary Journal in the Arts, 2015

Somers-Willet, Susan B. A.
Slam Poetry and the Cultural Politics of Performing Identity
The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association; Vol. 38, No. 1; Spring 2005

Sparks, Barbara; Grochowski, Chad
Narratives of Youth: Cultural Critique Through Spoken Word
Paper presented at the "Seminario Cientifico sobre la Calidad de la Educacion" (Matanzas, Cuba, February 2002)