I Speak Verbatim; Now Here is the Ultimatum by Natalie “Olivia Moore” Jordan

Volume 3 Editor’s Choice Winner

Prologue

I opened the door to discover room 318—a normal, nothing special, typical American college classroom. With off-white walls and the entrance corner painted in orange blocks, [the] setup [experience] was déjà vu. The floors were not fun, bright carpeting, but a hard, dark blue, mass-produced carpet [that mimicked it’s orange blocks near the entrance only]…The chairs were not beanbags, but cold, black modern chairs; coupled with their long, gray tabletops. The most upsetting was the bright, high beam fluorescent lights that lined the ceiling. Not even a lamp in sight. I had already begun to lose hope in my journey.

This was just one moment of my notes documenting my first day at my research location. Thirteen years of formal education led up to this moment—my first college research assignment. However, I managed to land myself in the class that required me to leave my comfort zone of the quiet libraries and embrace the unknown in front of people I had never met. On top of that, it is quite difficult to judge a situation that you have no previous context to base it upon. Even with my small knowledge of slam poetry—even poetry in general—I was still able to judge the situation in front of me before learning what was in store for me. Maybe it was the words of advice from my mother before moving to a new city to “always assess unfamiliar situations. If they feel strange, get the hell outta dodge.” Of course, my mother was speaking of new public situations, but regardless, it stuck with me no matter where I went. These feelings and judgments were carefully documented every meeting in my little black book of field notes; required by our class for grade, but proved to be very helpful when dealing with a short memory. The first meeting of Verbatim felt the same to me as my first time stepping onto the ‘L’, full of unfamiliar faces in a relatively unfamiliar space. I could not help but to be disappointed that it was not what I had imagined for a free spirited poetry group to be, especially one that revolves around performance; I half expected them to meet in a theater, so that they would have their proper stage. How ignorant I was.

It was only natural for me. I am not one to willingly present myself in new situations and make friends on the spot. I operate on modes of survival—yes, I am correct to speak in the present tense; even a poetry group with plenty of friendly people present cannot alter the stone tablet mindset that is my brain. I only make friends to survive, and sometimes, it works out for the best. I have found my closest friend out of the need to move up in the ranks of my high school radio station. Sure, I would say I am really good at kissing ass, but I promise I do it out of sincerity and never lie about the compliments that I give. It has worked out very well—both in my favor and in others; it has not worked out, though, for my ability to socialize in general settings. I am awkward. I do not know how to simply “make conversation,” only conduct interviews to gain information out of the subjects in front of me to better understand why they are trying to talk to me, if it even gets that far. I tend to go too far, too quickly and the subject has moved on to another person to try and make small talk with. I may initiate conversations, but rarely does it ignore a specific purpose. This has been the past 18 years of my life that the public knows. Privately, I want to change, but I do not know how to. That is where my “exceptional” ability to write comes in.

I do not like the term exceptional; however my parents have been using it since I learned to type. I never found it odd that at the age of nine I had written an 80-page novel, complete with introduction, climax and enough of a cliffhanger for a sequel. I am still editing it to this day because I have no confidence in my ability to write professionally. To write meant to express my frustrations without anyone knowing. It came in the forms of books, short stories, journal entries and then finally a 5-subject, blue notebook from CVS that held my cycle of poetry during my freshman year of high school. I did not have the time to sit and write long novels anymore. I began to receive homework that actually begun to challenge me on a daily basis; I needed a quick release. Poetry became my drug of choice, and it engulfed my life for a full year. For the first time, I began to write from direct experience, rather than semi-autobiographical fiction. It was also the first time I had explored my thought processes and attempted to write them down. I wrote about love, my attempts in social settings, weight and self-image. Near the holiday season, I wrote of sadness, longing, and depression. March presented a new platform that I had never walked on before—suicide. The paper was the only person that I could tell how I really felt. My parents had divorced, I was on the verge of failing my freshman year of high school, and the friends I wanted to have hated me. What else was left in my life? I kept writing, though. I wrote through it all. By the end of that year, I had filled up almost half the book. However, I had started to weave out of poetry and back into novel writing during the summer. The cycle continued for four years until I stopped writing altogether. I felt fixed. I felt that my “therapy sessions” were complete and that I no longer needed the book. I packed it up and hid it. March of the next year, my senior year of high school and supposedly the “happiest year of my life,” I could not keep it private anymore, and on a Tuesday early in the month, I slipped and voiced the inspiration for the poems to our school nurse. From there, it was like the poems were coming to life one after another. Since then, I have not touched poetry. I have been too afraid that I would relapse back into the state in which I started to write. When I was practically forced to go back into writing by the third meeting, I realized that it changed with my state of mind, as well as with my experiences. Even though I knew this time would have to come eventually, I was terrified to present that first poem during that meeting. What would they think? Would they send me through the institutions like my high school did? They did not. They embraced me. They loved my emotion and my struggle. It was not seen as a cry for help, but a work in progress. It was the first time that my writing was made public to strangers and not friends that I had trusted with secrets of other kinds.

Why on earth would I choose such a personal culture to study, knowing the consequences it could bestow? Well I did not. With my anxiety of new situations, I could not bring myself to choose a culture. I gave up before it even started because I could not understand and wrap my head around what was going on. I did something, however, that showed progress of my treatment. I asked for help and I received it. Yes, I had to be guided like a newborn puppy in the beginning, but sometimes I just have to be shoved in the right direction to get myself going. “What interests you?” She asked. My instructor had sat us in the back of 618 S. Michigan for our individual meetings.

I responded like a confused child who could not understand where they went wrong. “Theater. Expression.”

“Then find something that will play to that.”

I searched all of the on-campus groups because I could not find what I was looking for off-campus. Well, that is a lie. I could find exactly what I was looking for; I just did not want to go into a completely unfamiliar environment with something I had not touched on in years.

“I think Verbatim would be very good for you. Do it.”

And so I did. And here I am now, at the culmination of the research, saying something I never expected: I am a permanent member of Verbatim, and this is the reason why.

Verbatim is the on-campus slam poetry group at Columbia College Chicago. They operate out of room 318, located at 33 East Congress in the South Loop of Chicago, IL. They also happen to be right next door to my classroom in which this project originated[1]. Led by then Student President, Sheila Gagne, Verbatim held twelve members at its largest meeting. However, there are seven regular members of the group that consistently showed up for the majority of my research: Allison, Emily, Siobhan, Mike, Tara, Sheila and Dana; these seven members I got to know very well, and I am even able to call them friends now, post research. These members are everything that I did not expect out of a slam poetry group. I will not lie that I had my own initial expectations, regardless of how open-minded we were supposed going into this, but I got past them and was able to learn about a new group of people and how they handled their stressors in the form of writing. When I started to boil it down, though, this group started to smell like something familiar. It reminded me of a past experience that made me very uncomfortable, even though I had no reason to. Oh God, it’s a therapy session. Or is it?

The Methodology Behind the Madness

This presentation of ideas details my accounts and experiences with Verbatim, as well as the connection I made to therapy through their slam poetry. This is achieved by connecting the bridge between the process of writing and the practices of therapy, specifically through the culture of slam poetry. The specific aspect of slam poetry I will compare is the connection to the free expression of emotions through oral means without a direct response that is usually received in typical therapy, both group and talk. It begins with a brief outline of the history of slam and how it has the potential to connect to similar forms of therapeutic practices. This will include a brief review of important sources that I found in regards to gathering outside research. I will continue with my exploration in my journey with poetry in regards to Verbatim, expanding on that first moment of encounter with the group. This will be an in-depth look at the connection I’ve made with them, both during and outside the meetings, and how it has affected my life—socially and academically—since the first meeting. In conclusion, I will determine if Verbatim’s existence is truly successful, by comparing it to the outcome of my journey and the original purpose of the slam movement. This will be accomplished through interviews and articles—both experienced and found. As easy as it may seem, it was everything but that.

Methods of therapy have been evolving for centuries, but there are two main types: physical and mental. Physical therapy deals with the (physical) body and the recovery, but mental therapy is the one that is most the misunderstood type, because it hits that wall of not being able to see what is going on in the person, unless it is of extreme proportions. In the late 1890s, an Austrian neurologist by the name of Sigmund Freud developed “talk therapy,” or professionally known as psychoanalytic therapy. This is the stereotypical setting of the monotone therapist, holding their notepads and pencils, consistently—and annoyingly—asking the patient, lying in the chair across from them, “And how does that make you feel?” It makes me feel like a caged lab rat, running around in circles, getting nothing done, because all this is doing is having me talk in the circles that I’m running. For some, that is not as true, but typical talk therapy has its limitations. That is where group therapy comes in. It is the same situation; however it includes multiple people talking to one therapist. Many have found this to be very effective, offering a safe haven for expression, and it allows the therapist to see how one person may react to the emotions of others. It is portrayed in the mainstream media as a difficult type of therapy to contain, such as Charlie Sheen’s reinvention of Anger Management on FOX and NBC’s short-lived answer with Matthew Perry in Go On. With this being the image I have of what a group therapy session is like—utter chaos and one member eventually taking control over the therapist—I’ve steered clear of the opportunities I’ve been given to try it out. It is not for everyone, but neither is the one-on-one talk. So what do the people do who are stuck between the rock of mental illness and the hard place of struggling with life alone? They turn to something they love that has always been there for them and that they know will resolve their temporary issues before they turn to something for the long term. Now imagine about six or seven people who share that same place in their lives and the underlying purpose of Verbatim is revealed.

Poetry Gets Personal

1986: Smith approaches Dave Jermilo, the owner of the Green Mill…with a plan to host a weekly poetry competition on the club’s slow Sunday nights…July 25, the Uptown Poetry Slam&is; born. The Green Mill evolves into a mecca for performance poets, and     the Uptown Poetry Slam still continues [to this day]… (Poetry Slam, Inc.)

Not a very old style, is it? It is still growing to this day. Taken from the unofficial homepage of slam poetry, what is not included in this brief timeline is why Marc started these poetry readings. He was just a nineteen-year-old aspiring architect, working in construction, who fell in love with an English major, Sandy. What better way to win the heart of a lady than to get on the same playing field. By giving it a shot he got the girl; it ended in divorce, but not from the poetry. That was just the beginning for Marc, which led to a strong paradigm shift in the world of poetry. The need for a different kind of poetry rang loud through all those attracted to slam poetry, and it showed in his “need to breathe life into the open mic format.” (Poetry Slam, Inc.) Major news outlets and those outside of Chicago began to take notice of this budding movement taking the poetry world by storm. “[Marc] was tired of going to passionless poetry readings controlled by English professors who made it hard for those outside of the academia to take part,” writes Christina Jeng of USA Today in a 2004 article. In 1992, slam had its own feature in Smithsonian magazine even, perfectly and rightly titled “Please, Audience, do not Applaud a Mediocre Poem.” It’s like watching a child rise to stardom, and Marc was always there to remind everyone that its purpose was much larger than just a “fad.” “The very word ‘poetry’ repels people. Why is that? Because of what schools have done to it. The slam gives it back to the people…We need people to talk poetry to each other. That’s how we communicate our values, our hearts, the things that we’ve learned that make us who we are” (Conniff 79).

Making an almost 30-year story short, Slam Poetry is composed of three important components: performance, audience, and community. For the technical reference, without the competitive aspect, slam poetry is simply spoken word. This is because the term “slam” is the act of the competition, judged by the audience, but it is to remain secondary “to the creation of enjoyable and artistically meaningful shows” (Smith 116). I wish I could insert the whole essay that Smith wrote in his book, The Spoken Word Revolution: Slam, Hip-hop & the Poetry of a New Generation, because it is the perfect introduction to what slam poetry is all about. However, provided by yours truly, is a basic list of the “dos and don’ts” of slamming.

  •  Do feel free to participate, no matter your experience, but do not give us more than two at a time. Everyone’s gotta speak!
  • Please do check your ego at the door, and make sure you do not use or bring any props, costumes or animal acts. While musical accompany would be awesome, and may be seen in general performances, it is not approved in competition unless it is coming out of the body the good Lord gave you.
  • Do clap and roar and engage with the performances! If you notice someone going over five minutes worth of a performance do not encourage that. That is a big and nasty no-no. Trust me on that one.

The rest of the technicalities are covered between Susan Sommers-Willet’s essay, “Can Slam Poetry Matter” for Rattle Magazine and Marc’s essay in his book (Smith 118). However, there is onedon’t that many have confused for a do. Smith is quoted in his Smithsonian article breaking up a popular misconception of performance etiquette that must have been missed.

If [the poetry] is bad, snap your fingers. That means it stinks. If it gets worse, stamp your feet. If it’s god-awful, groan. And if it’s so bad it’s good, which happens sometimes, yell ‘Belmont!’…We don’t know why we do this, we just do. Please…do not applaud a mediocre poem. Just stare at the poet and eventually he’s going to get the idea. (Conniff 77)

 

The etiquette of snapping for approval actually comes from the beatnik era of the 50s, a while before slam was conceived. These tips are the general things to keep in mind when performing slam, but when just performing spoken word, there is one crucial tip that is very important for battling stage fright and the feeling of acting stupid. As President Sheila said many times during meetings, a performer is to “do stupid all the way.” Do not hold back for anything, and let yourself out in the performance. Marc’s vision for his movement is the same. “Slam is all about styles. It is about expanding the possibilities of poetry instead of limiting them, about injecting performance into the art of poetry, and most importantly about creating community amongst poets and audiences of diverse natures” (Smith 116).

As I have observed, Smith’s creation of slam was created out of frustration and an act of rebellion toward the more traditional styles of poetry; it was created out of love for a person he wanted to marry, but most importantly, it was created as a release for those who feel confined by their surrounding issues. Smith opened the barriers of conventional poetry from the strict structures of prose and line for an even more personal experience that allows for literal expression from the poet. No more monotone poetry readings, consisting of five to ten poems receiving silent claps and blank stares. Poetry has become engaging and allows for immediate feedback.

Important Secondary Sources

Gathering research material for this culture was much easier than I expected it to be. In regards to connecting my theory to therapy, I am not the only one thinking this way. It may not be noticed immediately, but I personally feel that with or without the competition aspect, spoken word can be used for therapeutic purposes, even if is not a predetermined intention. Verbatim gathers every Thursday evening to improve their poetry skills, but I have noticed they go to release as well. If there had been a stressful day, a member made sure that they were there to attend and express their emotions around people who understand and are not staring at them through a telescope, further funneled by a college degree and a code of ethics.

Three authors presented their stories and ideas to the public in a way that I felt was not only beneficial to the growth of the movement, but allowed for an equal understanding that spanned across many different paths of lives and professions. Their methods range from a book to articles in magazines.

It begins with The Arts in Psychotherapy, an international academic journal dedicated to the field of mental health and education. The journal printed a study written by Dr. Cheryl J. Maddalena, PsyD back in 2009 called “The Resolution of Internal Conflict through Performing Poetry.” Similar to its title, Maddalena studied the journey of eight participants through grounded theory methodology[2] and how performing competitive poetry aided in solving their conflicts. It bridges the gap between science and art in a beautiful way that had a conclusion similar to my own with Verbatim. “Though their transformations began with an inspiration and the simple impulse to perform original, heartfelt work on stage, these poets went on to design new identities and lives for themselves,” (Maddalena 230). It goes to show that even through a funnel of college degrees and a code of ethics, performing from the heart improves the soul.

Providing the auditory and visual comparison, Marc Smith put together a book with Mark Eleveld titled The Spoken Word Revolution: Slam, Hip-hop & the Poetry of a New Generation. On top of offering the poems in print, something unusual for slammers, it also includes select supplemental audio recordings of poems from the various artists, including the “slam papi” himself, Marc Smith. Since the style of poetry slam is centered on the performance, it is very rare to see the words of the poet on the page, unless you go searching for them. The supplemental CD does not even compare to hearing a performance live, but gives a chance for the reader to learn different ways to interpret the text with and without the performance.

Rounding out the extreme academia with the borderline entertainment, Susan Somers-Willet gives us a balance between a light-hearted article and serious considerations with “Can Slam Poetry Matter,” published in the quarterly poetry journal, Rattle. It is the beginning essay in the 2007 issue fully dedicated to the movement of slam poetry. The whole issue includes works from both slam and traditional poets (showing the parallels and the differences); however, her essay reminded me of a traditional ethnography, so I used it as a nice background study on what position I should come from with my autoethnography. It pulls the history, the ideas, and the practice altogether in a nice little essay that both Smith and Maddelena would be proud of. All of them played important roles to this research, but the best job they did was consistently remind me what I was really there to find: myself.

Studying Abroad: The Island of Expression

Remember, way back, when I had mentioned that before Verbatim, I had dabbled in poetry as a child? Remember that opening paragraph, an excerpt from my first set of field notes, detailing my first impression of the space? If it is not ringing a bell, feel free to look back. I will remind you that I gave up very early in the game. There were not many students present in the room; I will not lie that I was disappointed in the lack of a primary African-American presence, since this was something that I thought was common. Let me continue reminding you of the scene in front of me:

With the tables arranged in a blocky “U” shape, [Sheila] starts to her right and makes her way counter-clockwise: Blonde and animated Emily; Dark and intense Allison; Funny and imaginative Dana; Vice President DC, and finally Tara, with the cute, block glasses like mine, finished the introductions. All of these descriptions were my first impressions and how I managed to remember each person. Four females and two males were all well groomed, spoke without slang and operated in a very organized fashion[3]. I couldn’t help but feel something wrong, as there were only two black members, with the rest being white. That was one stereotype that I could not shake loose easily. I still had that natural gut feeling to believe this was supposed to be a more diverse group than black and white, that Sheila may be Irish or Tara of German descent. I really don’t feel this is the type of poetry group I was looking to study.

Mind you, this is only my first semester of college in a city where you can see all races of the world by just walking to the corner store. I may have attended a diverse high school, but I had never noticed diversity separated like this. It should come as no surprise that this same group of students has truly changed my life. I used to look at Verbatim as a project, the same way that I look at social interactions. They were nothing more than that; I was not to get involved, unless it dealt with my research. The longer I stayed, though, I started to see my area of flaws. I realized that I had been crying for help all these years through poetry, but the members of Verbatim were writing from wisdom, not confusion. I say this because they had a grip on their poetry. For example, on the week before the Poetry is Sexy auditions, Emily commanded the room with her poem, “My Baby Has a Mohawk.” It detailed her relationship with her boyfriend and how no matter what people think of the stereotypes that he may present, she does not care and that there is a good chance they are wrong. “Don’t be misled. My baby ain’t no fuck up. / He just looks good with his hair up. / Besides, punk rock ain’t punk rock without a little crazy. / So drunk on punk life that the edges get hazy” (Brantz).

Emily had me thinking about how I have been handling myself. After spending eight months on the drug Sertraline[4], I have been “suicidal thought” clean for the past three months. I do not stress out as bad as I used to, and I am a happier person overall. Why is it that I am still struggling to find myself and become the socialite that I once was before my parent’s divorce? When approached in social situations, I freeze; my idea of a fun Friday night is sitting at home reading a book, specifically the most interesting murder mystery I could find, if Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is not having its usual marathon on USA Network. I had been obsessed with death since my parents’ divorce, and now I am better. The answer to my struggle is that I have not changed how I looked at myself, only how others did.

In my head, I am still the overweight (210 pounds to be exact by 2008) child that I grew up as; I have few friends whose company I enjoy, and everything I do is never good enough. It has been proven multiple times throughout my life that the same person can tell me the same thing six times, but as soon as a different person tells me, it is like a whole new message, and I finally understand what that first person was trying to say. Verbatim was my different person. Therapists, family, and friends have been telling me what kind of person I am now: healthy, friendly, social, and well educated; when these people who knew nothing about me said the same thing, it made me feel like I had found a home and it had finally kicked in. Marc Smith’s vision for slam poetry was a success; it was to be that second voice and reinvigorate an old message: come back to the arts.

“Beneath the attitude, Smith’s slam also has the covertly high-minded purpose of reconnecting the American people to poetry—any poetry. The idea is to get people relaxed, keep them entertained, and in-between slip them brief lessons on the emotional power of poetry language.” (Conniff 78)

That was written in 1992, and still, 20 years later, this idea stays true through groups like Verbatim. It has even hit my high school back home in Michigan. Advised by Canton High School teacher, Larry Francis, their campus group, Spoken Word, takes the performance aspect to heart, not always incorporating only poetry into their meetings (Lukens). Bringing the aspects of slam poetry on a non-competition level increases the amount of interest, entertainment and possible volunteered involvement; this results in an environment that may be that moment a suicidal teen needs to have a second thought.

It is no secret attending a poetry reading is not high on the typical list of things to do on a Friday night. I am not talking about slam at this point, but I am speaking of Shakespeare, prose and the monotone, traditional poetry that when presented goes in one ear and out the other for those uneducated in the style. No matter how boring it may be, though, it is still the normal representation of poetry, and changing a first impression is impossible. That is why it is called a first impression. Therefore, in order for Verbatim to successfully fulfill their purpose in my study, I am re-classifying them as a “slam therapy” group session. Every Thursday night, the students gather, write their poems from the prompts, present them, and then learn how to either better them or learn about other styles. It is a re-education of an old method of writing, and I am willing to successfully classify it as “therapeutic” because of one important aspect: what stays in Verbatim is not to leave Verbatim. Every single meeting I attended was not recorded due to the content of the meeting becoming very personal. It was a different kind of personal that I hadn’t experienced before. While I would have thought some of the subjects would have been ok, it wasn’t for them. Even the level of privacy in poetry was a learning experience. That rule in the Verbatim creed is what allows poets to express the stresses of their day fully and completely without having it judged, taken or performed elsewhere without permission. It is a very attractive thing to Verbatim, and I believe it is something that is going to take them far. It even attracted me to join full time.

The Final Countdown

“In the end, these poets define their old traumas in new terms, continually redefine themselves with every new poem, take artistic control over their own perceptions of their own lives, and are now more and more able to write themselves into the stories that they want to live. The slam context encourages this by [drawing] poets in and rewarding poets for having a self-view of health.” (Maddalena 230)

As for the conclusion to the study in Arts in Psychotherapy, the eight poets succeeded in performing through conflict. As for the conclusion to the study of Verbatim, the six poets that I studied most closely not only performed from their hearts, but they allowed me into their personal family to study as well as be a part of. I have learned new things about interacting with people and approaches to my own poetry such as the popular “do stupid all the way.” It is something that I have applied to every aspect of my life, including this project. It may seem ridiculous to get this much information out of a movement that is only 30 years old, but this is personal. Seriously, it is not only a research of a culture, but a personal battle and journey out of the darkness and into the light of the new age poetry movement.

Luke Sims, a performer in the Verbatim event, Poetry is Sexy, told me his definition of slam poetry as the answer to our first question in the interview. I have saved the best for last for a specific reason: because it should make sense now.

“What is slam?” I asked.

“Slam Poetry?” Luke answered.

“Yeah.”

“It’s almost drama…but it has a more interpersonal relationship from the day that it’s created. With drama, someone needs to take a role, inspect it, and figure out how they’re related to it and figure out how to internalize those things…However, with a poem…those feelings have been there from day one.”

Before I let it go, there is one thing that needs to be completed—to truly bring everything full circle. Heather J. Carmack created a lesson plan that uses slam poetry in the argumentative process: “Students will apply concepts of creative language choice and delivery through the analysis and performance of slam poetry” (Carmack 19). What I want to end with is the same process I began with, and that is thinking about things that you already know about in a completely different way. I ask for the reader to get in a group with at least two other friends, find some poems, and craft a performance based off of those poems; select one of the poems and then everyone should answer these five questions:

  1. What is the main claim of your poem?
  2. How does the author support these claims?
  3. How does the author use figurative language to make this argument?
  4. Is the use of figurative language effective? Why or why not?
  5. And finally, my own question for you:
  6. How could you, personally, make this poem better?

The answers to these questions that Carmack developed will not only help to see the craft in creating arguments from an artistic point of view, but it is this part of the activity that “highlights the interplay between theory and application by directing students to critically engage in the analysis and performance of a unique form of spoken argument” (Carmack 21). It is the reader’s turn to analyze not just this essay, but what was obtained out of this essay. Compare what you’ve learned to what you think you know now. The question I gave is to begin that process of self-exploration. Everything can be made personal with a little bit of love. Just because it is off the stage, does not mean slam poetry is not relevant in other areas. Slam poetry is everywhere, and it is not going away anytime soon.

Works Cited

Brantz, Emily. “My Baby has a Mohawk.” Perf. Emily Brantz. Verbatim, Chicago. 2012. Printed Poem Manuscript.
Carmack, Heather. “Slam This: Understanding Language Choice and Delivery in Argument Using Slam Poetry.” Communication Teacher. 23.1 (2009): 19-22. Print.
Conniff, Richard. “‘Please, audience, do not applaud a mediocre poem’.” Smithsonian September 1992: 77-86. Print.
Jeng, Christina. USATODAY.com – Poetry to the People: I Slam, Therefore I am. 4 August 2004. USA Today. Web. 11 November 2012.
Lukens, Lauren. “Poetry Slam a Success; Showcases Student Creativity.” The Perspective 16 November 2012: A3. Newspaper.
Maddalena, Cheryl J. “The Resolution of Internal Conflict Through Performing Poetry.” Arts in Psychotherapy 36.4 (2009): 222-230. Print.
Poetry Slam, Inc. Slam Timeline. 31 March 2010. Web. 12 November 2012.
Sims, Luke. Personal Interview 9 November 2012.
Smith, Marc. The Spoken Word Revolution (Slam, Hip Hop & the Poetry of a New Generation). Ed. Mark Eleveld. Naperville: Sourcebooks Mediafusion, 2004. Print.
Somers-Willett, Susan B.A. “Can Slam Poetry Matter?” Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century Summer 2007: 85-90. Print.

__________________________
1I promise you this was completely unintentional, and I am not that lazy of a student.
2The purpose of grounded theory is to build theory using a rigorous research process, while helping the researcher to break through any biases brought to the research, which in turn provides the grounding needed to generate “a rich, tightly woven, explanatory theory” (Strauss qtd. in Maddalena 223).
3Hollywood has led me to believe that “true poets” only care about the art—not school, not hygiene and especially not what other people think. Of course, this was before I realized that Hollywood rarely portrays things correctly.
4Most commonly known by its major brand name, Zoloft, Sertraline is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders—all of which I am under treatment for.