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 the arts — especially 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), Shane Koyczan (Des Moines), and Tracie Morris (Princeton).

As a team member of Teens Rock the Mic (alongside a stellar group of poets including First Wave scholars Kelsey Van Ert and Danez Smith), she won the chance to rep Minneapolis/St. Paul at the 2005 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival in San Francisco. Launched by The Juno Collective — led by teacher-poets Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde and Dudley Voigt — Teens Rock the Mic was supported and sustained in the community as Quest for the Voice, now known as TruArt Speaks/Be Heard MN, guided by mentors e.g. bailey, Shá Cage and Reggie Harris. This work was featured in Literacy Tools in the Classroom (National Writing Project + Teachers College). Twin Cities’ PBS station produced a documentary on Quest for the Voice, and the group was also featured on the radio and web by Minnesota Public Radio.

In her first semester at Princeton, Jeanette’s spoken word poem "Underneath Unum" won Mathey College's "Reflections on Diversity" contest. As the director of Princeton’s production of The Vagina Monologues, she participated in a fall summit led by Eve Ensler in New Orleans for V-Day, designed to end violence against women.  

In February 2007, she was invited to perform "Boat on the Border" in This is Princeton, an arts showcase at Richardson Auditorium. It was also 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 acoustics of the university’s chapel. 

With the the magic of a Xerox copier, she printed four chapbooks of her spoken word poetry to hand out at slams: Wry Rhetoric (2004), Beyond Balloon Animals (2005), Checking In (2006), and Double Digits on Luin (2007) — somehow, one copy made it into the zine collection of In Other Words, a feminist bookstore in Portland.


"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

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

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

The Teens Rock the Mic crew in San Francisco (2005)

The Teens Rock the Mic crew in San Francisco (2005)

Imagine magazine, Johns Hopkins University (2005)