Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Professor William D. Coplin
Professor Bruce Smith
Citizenship and Public Affairs
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Public Policy
This thesis addresses the problem of poetry’s declining audience in America by investigating the relationship between the academic poetry and poetry slam communities. Primary and secondary research on the history and current state of these two poetry communities reveal that the academic poetry community does not currently embrace Poetry Slam and its audiences. First, an audience survey of the three largest Poetry Slam audiences in New York City and interviews with slam poets who perform for these audiences suggest that Poetry Slam has the ability to cultivate audiences for poetry outside of the academy. Second, the results of an online survey of poetry professors suggest that poets in the academic poetry community currently accept slam but distance themselves from it. Further, case studies of individual poets who cross between the academic and poetry slam communities show that there are positive benefits of collaboration between these two communities. As a result, I argue that the academic poetry community should embrace the poetry slam community for the benefit of all poetry communities in America. At a time when poetry’s audiences are declining, the academy must recognize that poetry slams have the potential to cultivate audiences for all poetry communities. Only when the academy has embraced Poetry Slam can poets truly say they have done their best to bring poetry to the largest audience possible.
Simon, Jessica G., "Poetry’s Outsiders: Why the Academy Should Embrace Poetry Slam and Its Audiences" (2006). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 613.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.