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4 Young Powerful Queer Poets You Should Know

Their words will shake you to the core.
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Spoken word is the magical love child of theater and poetry. For decades, queer people have used it as an outlet for expressing their identities. Here are the smoothest LGBT wordsmiths currently taking the stage.


Joy Young

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Joy Young is a radical, nonbinary, transgressive spoken word poet based in Phoenix, Arizona – probably the only one in that state. Joy believes that personal narratives are the driving force for social change. Outside of poetry, their interests include juggling fire, juggling things that aren’t on fire, postmodern theory and being a circus poet.

Poem to Check Out: “Unbuttoning My Boy Shirt”

(Joy Young – “Unbuttoning My Boy Shirt” (NPS 2014)

Best lines: “My life has felt like I’m doing the Hokey Pokey / while everyone else just dances to the tune / of what it means to be a man or a woman.”


Janani Balasubramanian

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Janani Balasubramanian is a South Asian spoken word poet, a performance artist and a destroyer of colonialism. When they’re not writing about empire and ancestry, they’re working on a science fiction novel called H. They perform solo and in the group Dark Matter.

Poem to Check Out: A Love Story Janani Balasubramanian

Best lines: “This is the way of things / Sometimes I panic when I look at sunsets / Like I loved the sky so much, I tore it open, and it bled / This is the way of things.”


Kai Davis

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Kai Davis is a queer woman of color and a spoken word powerhouse based in Philadelphia. She’s won multiple international grand slam poetry competitions, and currently tours the country performing. Her work focuses on race, gender, sexuality and how all three identities come together. She’s written on everything from the birth of racism to the death of Meek Mill.

Poem to Check Out: I Look Like || Spoken Word by Kai Davis

Best lines: “You look at me like I’m not supposed to be standing here next to you / Like we’re in the same class but your idea of advanced is too advanced and my mind can’t match you / I think it’s my vernacular / How I got half the consonants and twice the apostrophes so my philosophy can’t be valid.”


Anis Gisele

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Anis Gisele is always writing. She placed in the Women of the World Poetry Slam, National Poetry Slam, and Individual Poetry Slam, and won Capturing Fire, a global queer poetry competition. She published a full-length poetry book in 2013.

Poem to Check Out: Focus: Seattle Poets – Anis Gisele

Best line: “I sit with my body sometimes / and say, ‘Help is coming. You’re doing great.'”

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Author

J. Marie graduated from Duke University with a degree in International Relations and dreams of being a creative writer–dreams she’s now realizing as a musical theatre writer in NYC. She’s passionate about global black identities, black representation in media, and leather-bound notebooks. She also loves backpacking through a new country at a moment’s notice, and speaks Spanish, Swahili and Standard Arabic.

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