Spoken Word performers lift poems off the page and breathe them into the air between us in a way that can turn the wreckage of our tragedies into a celebration. We are ALIVE! Rudy Francisco, Blythe Baird, and Sarah Kay are three spoken word performers, published by Minnesota’s own Button Poetry, whose words and performances take the debris of hard experience, and use it build hope.

Rudy Francisco’s “Complainers” You are still alive. Act like it


Rudy Francisco’s spoken word performance of “Complainers,” at the 2014 National Poetry Slam: “You see when Evan lost his legs he was speechless. When my cousin was assaulted she didn’t speak for 48 hours. When my uncle was assaulted, we had to send out a search party to find my father’s voice. Most people, most people, most people have no idea that tragedy and silence have the exact same address.”

Blythe Baird’s “Guilt Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” The urge to write a poem became greater than the urge to write a suicide note.


Blythe Baird’s performance of “Guilt Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” in defiance of assault at September 2019 Button Poetry Event: “Every time I thought my life was ending, turns out it was just opening. And one day, the urge to write a poem became greater than the urge to write a suicide note. And so, I wrote the poem.”

Sarah Kay’s “The Type” You are a woman who can build it yourself.


By February 2019, Sarah Kay’s performance of “The Type” had topped 2M views, encouraging women’s strength, in series of images that lead to the empowering conclusion: “Know you are the type of woman who is searching for a place to call yours. You are a woman who can build it yourself. You were born to build.”

If you’re attracted to Spoken Word performance poetry, check out Minnesota’s own Button Poetry. Button Poetry focuses video and social media platforms on spoken word artists. They make high quality short films and release albums of poetry performances, along with perfect bound poetry books. They also sponsor contests for spoken word poets.

From their website– “By encouraging and broadcasting the best and brightest performance poets of today, Button Poetry hopes to broaden poetry’s audience, to expand its reach and develop a greater level of cultural appreciation for the art form.” https://buttonpoetry.com

You can also learn about Minnesota’s spoken word poets on our ever-evolving writers page.