Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2006

Capstone Advisor

Professor William D. Coplin

Honors Reader

Professor Bruce Smith

Capstone Major

Political Science

Capstone College

Citizenship and Public Affairs

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories


Subject Categories

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.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.