top of page





What do a page poet and stage poet have in common?


They're both poets.

Both use artful language to connect to people.

Both create meaningful, impactful art.

Page poet: A poet who primarily writes, prints and publishes poems for an audience on paper, a screen, in publications or in books - or reads them before a live in-person or virtual audience. Placing a poem on a fixed surface like a page gives the reader endless opportunities to explore the poem and find several layers and meanings ... and, because a page preserves the words and format, return to it many times.

Stage poet: A poet who creates and often memorizes poems performed aloud before live audiences. As an oral and performative art form, spoken word has been effective for building community in the moment and making space for people to have a live experience with a poem. Stage poets use performance devices like call-and-response, signifying, improvisation, body gestures, and other dramatic techniques. 

We embrace poets, period.

Former Virginia Poet Laureate Ron Smith reflects on the psychology of spoken word and the empathy required to deliver it to an audience during 2016's Poetry Out Loud.

A brief history of spoken word and slam by British performance organization Apples and Snakes.


Listen to Williamsburg poet Lacroy "Atlas" Nixon explain slam.

Spoken Word in PSV Annual Contests

In 2023, PSV included a spoken word category in its Annual Contests, the category sponsored by Board member and Publicity Chair Nathan Richardson. Poets submitted recorded videos performing original poems, competing for PSV recognition and a cash prize. Our inaugural winner is Cassandra Spruill (Cass IsFree) for her poem "Revelations."


Other winners: 

Stephanie Lask

2nd Place for her Verb Benders Slam Team performance (2021) 


Cliff Rhodes

3rd Place for "Symay"

Lacroy "Atlas" Nixon

Honorable Mention for "My Only Friend"


PSV Southeastern Region Vice President Jorge Mendez judged the 2023 Annual Contests Spoken Word category.

Cassandra Spruill performing "Revelations."

Stephanie Lask talks about doing spoken word in Norfolk.

Spoken Word Across Virginia


Southeastern VP Jorge Mendez performs "Amusing My Muse," during the Naked? Digital Showcase sponsored by Who's Johnny CreAtive.  

Roscoe Burnems2.jpg

Virginia currently has 6 adult slam teams, one of which is Norfolk's verb benders, ranked #3 in the U.S. and 8th in the world. Richmond's Writer's Den slam team is captained by Roscoe Burnems, the capital city's first Poet Laureate (2021 - 2023). 


Poetry venues and arts organizations across Virginia host spoken word events, open mics and slams year-round. Some of these events are long-running series. To explore some of the places where you can perform or be part of the audience, please visit the PSV Statewide Calendar.


PSV members can access a digital directory of spoken word venues that is updated annually in members-only areas of the PSV website.

bottom of page