<span class='p-name'>Revolutionary Poets Society</span>

Revolutionary Poets Society

I’m teaching a course on slam poetry as part of our first year experience (FYE) initiative here at CofC. This course is titled the “Revolutionary Poets Society” and it is a reboot of an after-school club I facilitated when I was teaching middle school.

The Revolutionary Poets Society focuses on global opportunities to respond to the demands of the moment through poetry, music and art. Students will learn about the roots of slam poetry — the Harlem Renaissance, Confessional & Beat poetry, the Black Arts Movement, performance art, and hip-hop.

We focus on the development of vocabulary and a set of critical, literacy, and performance approaches to help enable engagement with slam poems and spoken-word poems on aesthetic terms. Students present in a poetry slam at the end of the semester.

The current syllabus for this class is available here. I’m using this website to serve as my learning management system and share all materials. I hope you’ll join us over the coming weeks as we think, discuss, and write.

I’ll use the hashtag #RevolutionaryPoets to organize all materials across social media (mostly Twitter). I’ll encourage my students to share materials and follow along on the discussion there. Please join us.

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to study a wide range of examples of storytelling, folklore, myth, in order to capture the dynamic of storytelling, its “dialogue” with the culture in which it exists, and its diversity across cultures. The course will investigate the storyteller as a performer and author in the role of persuader, creative writer and, in everyday life, as the conveyor of information more personally, subjectively and effectively. 


The course is designed to develop the critical listening, reading, viewing and research skills required when encountering and creating storytelling as performed texts. The course will suggest a way of approaching literary and performance-based stories in a process that will strengthen and deepen skills of observation, deep listening and awareness of cultural norms outside our individual cultural experiences, practices and knowledge. The principal sources of study are contemporary storytellers and spoken word artists in the US, Mediterranean Europe, Africa and Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas in a variety of storytelling categories: performance poetry, storytelling with music, dramatic monologues, rap and hip-hop, biographical representations and vocal choreography with multiple storytellers. Through critical reading and active listening to the texts, we will study meaning as it is generated through the use of language with attention to word choice, rhythm, rhyme & tempo the use of gesture integrated or juxtaposed with text the use of the whole body in space. 

Course Materials

The main text of the course is Season One of the Dissect Podcast. Dissect is a serialized music podcast in which host Cole Cuchna examines a single album, “forensically dissecting the music of one song per episode.” Season 1 examines “To Pimp a Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar. Subscribe to Dissect on SpotifyApple PodcastsStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The course will also utilize other varied YouTube videos, audio clips, and related materials. I’ll share all of this out over the coming posts.

Get started

For the first week, get the Dissect Podcast loaded on your podcatcher of choice, and listen to Episode One of Season One, titled “Compton, K Dot, and Kendrick Lamar”.

The following interview with Kendrick Lamar from the Noisey channel will help supplement the first episode.

Please note

As I indicate to students in my class, we go to great lengths to provide a safe environment to read, write, explore, and share. We talk about tough subjects and we get to some pretty raw places. I say this as a way to let you know that my students may share…or may choose not to.

I also say this as an indicator that my students are watching…and others are watching as well. Please be respectful as we engage and connect.

Lastly, this is a class for a group of freshman in a higher education classroom. I think these materials are acceptable for a high school or secondary classroom as well, but your results may vary. Please understand there will be NSFW language and topics. I will not censor the messages being shared, and I will not censor my students.

Consider yourself warned.

If you’d like to join us, or assist in this, send me an email (wiobyrne@gmail.com). I’d love to have you in for an interview, or guest lecture. I’m also reaching out to people to conduct lectures and share these out as podcasts to use in the course materials.

But…enough about the details. Have fun diving in to the podcast…and we’ll get started next week.

Image credit


  • 💬 A Turning Point

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