American slam poets want to kill poetry, but that does not mean what you think it means—or does it? Javon Johnson’s provocative title allows him to lay out several of his book’s key questions in the first chapter: How have slam poets created their own literary spaces and values outside of the academy’s canons? How has slam’s codification of its own practices and voices created the kind of hierarchies or gender biases it initially sought to avoid? How do metaphors grounded in death and rebirth infuse slam competitions, and how do these relate to slam communities’ visions of their own possibilities and limits? And—especially in light of those death-related metaphors of praise, you killed it, or you slayed, often used in slam—how have the beautiful poems of the slam world come to coexist, or not, with the...

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