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Wireless Festival 2017 - Day 1

Source: Lorne Thomson / Getty

HBO’s Def Poetry Jam carried spoken word poetry into American living rooms from 2002 to 2007. Iconic poets like Nikki Giovanni, Lemon Andersen, and Saul Williams spit their truth and inspired millions from the stage.

Now creator Russell Simmons is trying to bring the show back with a very special host — Chance the Rapper.

The producer and mogul tweeted that he’s “super excited” to be in negotiations with the Chicago native about rebooting the series.

Here are the poets CASSIUS thinks are no-brainers to be featured on the show.

1 Danez Smith

“I want a scene //where a cop car gets pooped on by a pterodactyl, a scene //where the corner store turns into a battle ground. Don’t let //the Wayans brothers in this movie. I don’t want any racist shit //about Asian people or overused Latino stereotypes.”

2 Ashley August

“I seek the blood of the one who said ‘no one will believe you when I’m done with you, when I’ve washed myself clean of you.'”


Will Giles

“Wait until you fall into a hole of your own making// the ground moans as something laughs underneath you// or do you imagine the ceiling-bound Zubat nibbling on your ear?// you capture it, name it anxiety and hope it will now work for you.”

Aziza Barnes

“Three squad cars roll up at my door and it’s a fucking joke //’cause exactly no squad cars rolled up to the McDonald’s Bijan was shot at //and exactly no squad cars rolled up to find the murders //and exactly no one did what could be categorized as they job, depending on how you define time spent for money earned for property //and it didn’t make me feel like I could see less of the gun in her holster //because she was black & short & a woman, too.”

5 Hieu Minh Ngyuen

“Maybe hope is stopping the story before it’s over, before the inevitable messy end //O monger of the broken records! //O monger of the early birthday present! //Push me from the highway overpass—let’s leave the story there //let’s leave the body whole in mid-air illuminated by oncoming headlights, a tiny song, a pixel in the pixelated mouth of hope //or whatever it is that propels us through the door of tomorrow //& since there was no key, I guess I’ll swallow the door.”

6Jonathan Mendoza

“Biracial boy wishes his skin came with an instruction manual //Brown boy tells white boy he should not identify as a person of color //That he can pass //That he should not appropriate a struggle that is not his. //White boy tells brown boy he will not identify as white, //Erase the brown from his blood, //Will not be the one who finishes the colonization of his own body.”

7 Yesika Salgado

“What good is all this body positivity I talk about when my own body exhaust me? //When I can’t forget how uncomfortable I feel in a club unless I drink my weight in tequila? // When my girlfriends stop being the women who save me and instead become the bodies I’ll never have? //When I seek validation from men’s hands on the dance floor?”

8 Deshara Suggs-Joe

“Teach me not to be bitch to men who think they’re gift //teach me how to bleed, be dainty, walk in heels, bear the child you left me// teach me to respect the body you keep tugging, policing, defacing //teach me to get low, honor thy husband, act pleasured when you touch me.”

9Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

“My friend says he didn’t call after driving from an ex-lover’s house last month //when the morning came and he crawled from the window which poured light into the space he left in the bed. //he tells me this is called ghosting //or, what it means to be defined only by the emptiness that once held you.”