Poetry: Spoken Word

Jeanette Beebe Slammed Imagine Johns Hopkins Illustration.jpg


— Diablo Cody, City Pages

At age 15, Jeanette founded Moving ForWords Productions, a project inspired by her hometown poetry slam community in Des Moines, Iowa. Its mission was to use spoken word to open up conversations about gender, on and off the stage. 

As a teen, she hopped on the Midwest poetry slam circuit. She's shared the stage with Marc 'So What’ Smith (Chicago), Mighty Mike McGee (Omaha), and Shane Koyczan (Des Moines).

Jeanette worked with the Minnesota Spoken Word Association and the Juno Collective to form "Teens Rock the Mic", part of the Youth Speaks network. As a member of the inaugural Minnesota team, she helped raise funds to compete in the 2005 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival in San Francisco. "Teens Rock the Mic" later launched "Quest for the Voice", a youth spoken word poetry series. "Quest for the Voice" (now "Be Heard MN") was designed to build on the "Teens Rock the Mic" tradition: to select a six-poet Twin Cities team to participate in the Youth Speaks Brave New Voices Festival, which attracts hundreds of teen poets each year for workshops and community building. This work was featured in Melissa Borgmann's Literacy Tools in the Classroom: Teaching Through Critical Inquiry, Grades 5–12 (National Writing Project + Teachers College). Twin Cities' PBS produced a documentary on "Quest for the Voice" (in 2008), and the group was also featured on the radio and web by Minnesota Public Radio.

At Princeton, her spoken word poem "Underneath Unum" won Mathey College's "Reflections on Diversity" contest. In February 2007, she was invited to perform "Boat on the Border" in This is Princeton, an arts showcase at Richardson Auditorium. It was published in Princeton’s Journal of Religious Life in February 2009. That year, she was awarded a grant to pursue her spoken word work by the Peter B. Lewis Summer Fund. In October 2010, she won First Prize ($500) at Rider University's "On Fire" poetry slam. In February 2012, she delivered a poem at "Performing the Sacred", which was held in the cavernous University chapel. 

Back in the day, with the the magic of a Xerox copier, Jeanette printed, stapled, and handed out four slam poetry chapbooks at various readings: Wry Rhetoric (2004), Beyond Balloon Animals (2005), Checking In (2006), and Double Digits on Luin (2007) — and somehow, one copy made it into the zine collection of In Other Words, a feminist bookstore in Portland.

Imagine magazine, Johns Hopkins University (2005)

Imagine magazine, Johns Hopkins University (2005)

Jeanette's first spoken word performance in Princeton (2006)

Jeanette's first spoken word performance in Princeton (2006)


"A young woman of vision." — Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Founder, The Juno Collective

"Bright, smooth, woah." — Marc 'So What' Smith, Founder of the Poetry Slam (Green Mill Bar, Chicago)

"I've heard outstanding praises of [her] talents (and witnessed it myself) [...] The real purpose of the event is to show how amazing our whole community is outside the classroom, so I can't think of a more awesome person to ask to perform." Daphra Holder, organizer of "This is Princeton" showcase, Princeton University

"[The] poem says EVERYTHING I try to communicate in two classes. [...] So many great lines." Dr. Kathryn Bell McKenzie, who taught "Underneath Unum" poem (broadcast on KEOS-Touchstone Radio) in two doctoral classes at Texas A&M University