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The Breakbeat Poets Remixing the Cannon and a Look at Hip-Hop as a Music for Language

“Hip-Hop is the largest youth culture in the history of the planet rock.” So states The BreakBeat Poets, a hip-hop group and anthology featuring 78 poets across ages and locations, who are creating the next and now movement(s) in American letters. This is the first poetry anthology by and for the hip-hop generation. And you have a chance to see some of them perform in person.

Join us on Tuesday, November 29th as we join forces with the editors and contributors of The Breakbeat Poets Remixing the Cannon for a night of hip-hop poetry. This event brings together nationally recognized poet-laureates, writers, and rappers who will take us on a journey through the power of spoken word.
“I fell in love with hip-hop in the 8th grade when I was also falling in love with Baewolf and the poetry of Miss Brooks,” says performer and educator, Quraysh Ali Lansana, who will be performing his work on the 29th. “I’m the only editor who actually lived in a time before hip-hop existed. I think that perspective is important to the book as a whole because no one expected hip-hop to be around this long.”
Hip-hop was born as a subcultural art movement in the 1970s, particularly in the South Bronx in New York City, and the music became popular outside of the African-American community in the late 1980s and 90s. Television and social media have been given credit to the music becoming one of the most practiced genres of music worldwide.

Teen performs at YOUmedia's Lyricist Loft
Teen performs at YOUmedia’s Lyricist Loft

“We benefit from the existence of hip-hop,” states Quraysh. “It is the truth of lyric-based music. A music that priveledges language and playful ways to get at language…Billy Collins benefits from the existence of Snoop Dogg – that’s why you’d love to see them have a drink together!” For those who are unfamiliar, William James “Billy” Collins is an American poet who was appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. Wouldn’t we all like to be a fly on the wall during that bar visit?!
So…why the Library Foundation? For Quraysh personally, libraries have always been very important to him. In fact, he spent almost every weekend of his childhood visiting his local library in Enid, OK. “Public libraries are maybe the last remaining free public space with access to knowledge,” he shared. “[They] are critical to the public discourse…I think it’s an amazing acknowledgment of hip-hop culture, a different mode of approaching language, knowledge and ideas. It’s important for self-expression and identity for young people. It is a very real recognition of hip-hop culture and youth culture.So I’m honored they’ve asked us to present. “
The Breakbeat Poets take the mic on Tuesday, November 29 at Haymarket Pub & Brewery, 737 W. Randolph St, starting at 6:30pm. Tickets are $15 and proceeds benefit learning programs at Chicago Public Library. Purchase your tickets here!
Meet your evening’s performers:
Quraysh Ali LansanaQuraysh Ali Lansana has been a literary teaching artist and curriculum developer for over a decade and has led workshops in prisons, public schools, and universities in over 30 states. He is a former faculty member of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School, and served as Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University from 2002-2011, where he was also Associate Professor of English/Creative Writing. Currently, Lansana is on faculty in the Creative Writing Program of the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and the Red Earth MFA Creative Writing Program at Oklahoma City University. Recent books include The Walmart Republic, with Christopher Stewart and The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop.
E’mon LaurenE’mon Lauren  Vocalist.  Emcee. Teaching artist. Performing artist. Published artist.  The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop.

Nate MarshallNate Marshall
is a Cave Canem Fellow whose work has appeared in Poetry Magazine, New Republic, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. He is coeditor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. Marshall has won the Hurston/Wright Founding Members Award and the Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award. He is a visiting assistant professor of English at Wabash College, the  National Director for Louder Than A Bomb,a member of the poetry collective Dark Noise, and a rapper.

Kevin CovalKevin Coval is Founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival and the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, Coval teaches hip-hop aesthetics at The University of Illinois-Chicago, is a 4x HBO Def Poet and has written for a wide variety of publications including, Huffington Post and Fake Shore Drive. Coval is editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and is the author of Schtick, L-vis Lives!: Racemusic Poems, Everyday People, Slingshots: A Hip-Hop Poetica and the play, This is Modern Art, co-written with Idris Goodwin.