Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xiv

I was putting the finishing touches on Killing Poetry as I learned of my stepfather’s imminent passing. Pastor Foster T. Mijares III will not be around in the physical form to witness his stepson publish a book. On some level, I feel like a bit of a failure for not having completed the manuscript in time for him to hold and read it. In my family, he was the one who asked most often about my work. “Hey, J,” he’d say. “How’s teaching? How’s the book

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Chapter 1: Let the Slam Begin: History, Method, and Beyond

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pp. 1-28

In the spring of 2000, the Paris Review published its sixth edition of “The Man in the Back Row Has a Question” in which noted literary figures discussed poetry’s past, present, and future. Answering a question about the hallmarks of a good poem, the literary critic and humanities professor Harold Bloom anxiously called poetry slams “the death of art.” As the lone figure to mention them in an interview that had nothing to do with the...

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Chapter 2: “This DPL, Come On!”: Black Manhood in the Los Angeles Slam and Spoken Word Scene

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pp. 29-60

In the spring of 2005, Da Poetry Lounge cofounder Shihan Van Clief released “DPL Anthem,” the fourteenth track on his two-disc album Music Is the New Cotton. Fun, incisive, and brash, it unapologetically celebrates DPL, and it quickly became our song, serving as evidence that, “through anthems, the delineation between art and politics as well as listener and actor is blurred” (Redmond 2014, 2). The track featured founding and prominent DPL poets...

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Chapter 3: SlamMasters: Toward Creative and Transformative Justice

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pp. 61-90

I first attended Poetry Slam Inc.’s National Poetry Slam in the summer of 2002 as member of Team Green from Los Angeles. As a venue, Green was started by Damon Rutledge, but it featured so many Lounge poets that many saw it as DPL’s B team— that is, as the team you tried out for if you did not make DPL’s. This was certainly true in my case. Nonetheless, my team—which also featured Shihan, Gina Loring (who placed seventh in the...

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Chapter 4: Button Up: Viral Poetry and Rethinking the Archives

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pp. 91-115

Despite the difficult but necessary 2013 SlamMaster meeting and its fallout, the semifinals bout I competed in that year was perhaps my most rewarding. In addition to being a great bout, the poems were challenging and amazing in all of the ways typically associated with the poetry slam. The bout produced poems from me, Pages Matam, Alex Dang, and Terisa Siagatonu and Rudy Francisco, which all went viral thanks to Button Poetry, as well as...

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Chapter 5: Conclusion: “That Is the Slam, Everybody”

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pp. 116-126

I woke up early on a sunny summer day in Chicago in 2010. I had flown back to the city for my dissertation defense and was staying in what was affectionately known as “the Poet House” in the city’s Albany Park neighborhood. I put on a single-breasted, two-button suit and then stepped into the living room to greet my fellow poets. One of them, Ebony Hogan, said, “You look nice. If I was on your committee, I’d definitely pass you on the suit alone.” Ebony...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 127-130

This book has been a long time coming, and it was only possible because of the extraordinary support of my colleagues, friends, and family. Along the way, some of those colleagues have become dear friends, and some of those friends have become family. To them, I offer all of my gratitude.
Because I am a poet and a storyteller, I will try to start from the beginning so that I do not leave anyone out, though it is almost inevitable that I will overlook a few important people. I offer my...

Notes

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pp. 131-136

References

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pp. 137-146

Index

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pp. 147-156

About the Author

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p. 157