Dua Saleh – “A Peculiar Release” (Button Live)


Performing at Button Poetry Live.

“This is only a medical fact for about half of us, but that’s half too many.”

Don’t miss this astonishing poem from Dua Saleh, performing at Button Poetry Live.



While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and merch, including books by Neil Hilborn, Olivia Gatwood, Hanif Abdurraqib, Donte Collins, Sabrina Benaim, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, William Evans, Guante, Rachel Wiley, & our newest release from Neil Hilborn!

In-Depth Look: Rudy Francisco – “The Heart and The Fist”

In-Depth Look: Rudy Francisco – “The Heart and The Fist”

Appreciating poetry is often about patience: sitting with a poem, meditating on it, and re-reading it multiple times. With spoken word, we don’t always get a chance to do that. This series is about taking that chance, and diving a little deeper into some of the new poems going up on Button.

“A weapon will always be a weapon, but we choose how we fight the war.”

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Write-up by Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre


Get Guante’s Book Here
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This is a longer entry than usual, but there’s so much good to say about this poem.

In the spoken word and poetry slam community, I think a lot of us (especially those of us who have been part of the community for a long time) tend to get really excited about weirdness, experimentation, and pushing the boundaries of form and delivery. And that’s cool; challenging ourselves and our audiences is a healthy thing. But it’s not the only thing. As this poem demonstrates, you can still create magic within the confines of a more traditional format.

Let’s break down what I mean by “traditional format,” because the tradition that I’m referring to is relatively young. I’m thinking about poems that are around three minutes long, poems that begin with some kind of fact, anecdote, or statistic, poems that introduce an image at the beginning and then loop back around to re-contextualize that same image at the end, poems that have a clear, specific thesis statement supported by a structural arc in which every new idea relates back to that thesis, poems that start softly and then build in intensity as they move (only to end back in a softer place), poems that use personal narrative to support some larger idea– all of these techniques are present here, as they are in so many spoken word poems (including my own), yet this poem doesn’t feel stale, or “samey,” which is the common critique of so much spoken word.

It feels electric– partly because it does all of those “traditional format” things so perfectly (as though this were the platonic ideal of a slam poem) and partly because of its message, which is vital and incredibly timely. We need to be making the connections between gun violence and masculinity. This poem doesn’t just make that connection, though; it challenges us to see both why that connection exists and why it doesn’t have to. It makes a critique, and it also offers hope, all through the lens of individual experience (as opposed to finger-pointing or abstract intellectualizing).

As readers of this series may notice, we’re not just analyzing poems here; we’re exploring the tools that these these poets use that might be relevant or useful for aspiring poets. That “traditional format” discussed above could also be called a formula. And there is always danger in simply plugging into a formula– as so many of us do when we’re just getting started as poets and writers. But as this poem demonstrates, the formula itself is just a tool; what matters is what substance, perspective, heart, specificity, and meaning we take the time and effort to put into it.

Get Rudy Francisco’s new book here!

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While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and merch, including books by Neil Hilborn, Olivia Gatwood, Hanif Abdurraqib, Donte Collins, Sabrina Benaim, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, William Evans, Guante, Rachel Wiley, & our newest release from Neil Hilborn!!

Emi Mahmoud – “Head Over Heels” (Button Live)


Featuring at Button Poetry Live.

“Do I mention the sorrow? How it’s never as simple as what you see on TV, how there are weeks worth of fear before they turn the camera on.”

Don’t miss this phenomenal poem from Emi Mahmoud, featuring at Button Poetry Live.



While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and merch, including books by Neil Hilborn, Olivia Gatwood, Hanif Abdurraqib, Donte Collins, Sabrina Benaim, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, William Evans, Guante, Rachel Wiley, & our newest release from Neil Hilborn!

Joseph Capehart – “I Write About the Black Boy” (Button Live)


Performing at Button Poetry Live.

“I write about the Black boy, because aren’t you still asking about his father? Don’t you still wanna know if he stole those cigarettes? Don’t you sleep better with a reason? Aren’t you still sleeping? Aren’t you still sleeping?”

Don’t miss this powerful poem from Joseph Capehart, performing at Button Poetry Live.



While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and merch, including books by Neil Hilborn, Olivia Gatwood, Hanif Abdurraqib, Donte Collins, Sabrina Benaim, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, William Evans, Guante, Rachel Wiley, & our newest release from Neil Hilborn!

Neil Hilborn – “You Can’t Be Depressed”


Performing at Honey in Minneapolis.
“My last birthday, I was surrounded by people who loved me, and the loudest thought in my head was still, ‘They wouldn’t even be sad if you died.’”

Don’t miss this incredible new poem from Neil Hilborn, performing at Honey in Minneapolis.

Get your hands on Neil’s newest book, THE FUTURE, NOW AVAILABLE!

Jared Singer – “How to Make Love Stay (after Tom Robbins)” (Button Live)


Featuring at Button Poetry Live.

“Pretend that the whole world is the music video of your love. Finish every sentence by taking off your sunglasses, especially when you aren’t wearing any.”

Don’t miss this beautiful poem from Jared Singer, featuring at Button Poetry Live.



While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and merch, including books by Neil Hilborn, Olivia Gatwood, Hanif Abdurraqib, Donte Collins, Sabrina Benaim, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, William Evans, Stevie Edwards, Claire Schwartz, Guante, & our newest release from Rachel Wiley!

Native Child – “Precipice”


Performing at the 2017 Rustbelt Poetry Festival.

“It is said that 1 in 3 women will experience violence in their lifetime. I have two daughters, both who have inherited my eyes.”

Don’t miss this amazing poem from Native Child, performing at the 2017 Rustbelt Poetry Festival.



While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and merch, including books by Neil Hilborn, Olivia Gatwood, Hanif Abdurraqib, Donte Collins, Sabrina Benaim, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, William Evans, Stevie Edwards, Claire Schwartz, Guante, & our newest release from Rachel Wiley!

Anna Binkovitz – “Thirteen” (Button Live)


Performing at Button Poetry Live.

“I took an online quiz to find out whether or not you abused me.”

Don’t miss this remarkable poem from Anna Binkovitz, performing at Button Poetry Live.



While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and merch, including books by Neil Hilborn, Olivia Gatwood, Hanif Abdurraqib, Donte Collins, Sabrina Benaim, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, William Evans, Stevie Edwards, Claire Schwartz, Guante, & our newest release from Rachel Wiley!

Javon Johnson – “Pretzeled Bodies” (Button Live)


Featuring at Button Poetry Live.

“I never thanked you for being my lighthouse.”

Don’t miss this wonderful poem from Javon Johnson, featuring at Button Poetry Live.



While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and merch, including books by Neil Hilborn, Olivia Gatwood, Hanif Abdurraqib, Donte Collins, Sabrina Benaim, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, William Evans, Stevie Edwards, Claire Schwartz, Guante, & our newest release from Rachel Wiley!

Neil Hilborn – “Move-In Day”


Performing at Honey in Minneapolis.
“I don’t know how we thought all our stuff could fit into this tiny apartment when we first picked it out, back before I said anything about my doubts, my doubts, they feel so stupid now, now that we’ve learned how to say to each other more than ‘I’m afraid.’”

Don’t miss this beautiful new poem from Neil Hilborn, performing at Honey in Minneapolis.

Get your hands on Neil’s forthcoming book, THE FUTURE, coming April 2018, preorder now for a signed copy!



While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and merch, including books by Neil Hilborn, Olivia Gatwood, Hanif Abdurraqib, Donte Collins, Sabrina Benaim, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, Rudy Francisco, Stevie Edwards, Claire Schwartz, Guante, & our newest release from Rachel Wiley!