IC Speaks

There is power in your words. There is power in your voice.


IC Speaks seeks to develop and sustain an inclusive, thriving spoken-word poetry community in Iowa City that empowers youth from all backgrounds to speak their truths.


Since its inception in 2019,  IC Speaks has dedicated itself to creating sustainable space, programming, and leadership that supports Iowa City’s young people with language arts education, writing and public speaking skills, and self-expression. It is vital that the next generation receives the resources and support to succeed in the future. History has taught us: communication is key. The ability to listen with an open heart & mind, think critically, and synthesize ideas & experiences into a well crafted presentation is a set of skills that puts you on the path to greatness. These are the lessons young writers will take into adulthood—whether it be in a writing career, a job interview, or any other form of interpersonal communications. 


Caleb Rainey - DIRECTOR

Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey (he/him) is an Iowa City based spoken word poet who has performed in multiple cities across the US, including Chicago and New York City. He is a winner of the Des Moines Poetry Slam, the Iowa City Poetry Slam, and finalist for the UNESCO City of Literature Global Slam - Iowa City. Caleb is the author of two books, Look, Black Boy and Heart Notes, along with publications in Best Emerging Writers in Iowa 2019, the Little Village, and Black Art; Real Stories. He is also the founder and director of IC Speaks, an organization that teaches spoken word to local high school students. Learn more.

Hannah/Charlie Hall - Middle School Coordinator

Hannah/Charlie Hall (he/she/they) is an 18-year-old self-proclaimed: storyteller, poet, and writer. Hailing from Iowa City, Iowa, they are focused on showing the real and often ugly stories of mental illness, finding your identity as genderqueer, and learning to love a hard-to-love world. Hannah/Charlie is an Iowa City and Ames poetry slam winner, Between The Lines writing program graduate, and competed in Iowas’ first and second state youth poetry slam in Des Moines. Hannah/Charlie Hall has been featured on Iowa Public Radio and placed third in the 2022 IC Speaks Page Poetry Contest. She/he was also Published in the 2022 October issue of “The Real MAINstream.”

She/he was an opening performer for Film Scene’s 2022 film fest “Refocus” and competed in the UNESCO City of Literature global slam; Hannah/Charlie was also an opening performer for Ebony Stewart and Patrica Smith, two legends in the writing world.

Ruth Thomas - Student Ambassador

Ruth Thomas (she/her) has been a member of IC Speaks since 2019, where she’s led and participated in workshops, competed on the State Slam team at iLUV Poetry Festival, and has unofficially been dubbed “The Poetry Gremlin.” She has been published in assorted literary magazines such as Ice Lolly Review, Aster Lit, and most recently The Real Mainstream. Outside of writing, she loves taking care of her many plants, baking, and crocheting when she finds the time to sit down and binge a series.

Join Us

If you’re interested in joining Spoken Word Club or any of IC Speaks’ other programs, please contact Caleb at [email protected]. We’d love to have you!


Spoken Word Club - a weekly 60-90 minute generative writing workshop that provides writing/performance examples, activities, and prompts.

Critique Workshop - a weekly 90-120 minute critique writing workshop that provides a space for students to receive critical feedback on their writing from peers and an instructor.

Performance Workshop - a monthly 90-120 minute performance workshop that provides a space for students to attain, practice, and hone the necessary performance skills & techniques.

Poetry Slam - a seasonal event that provides an opportunity for students to participate in a classic form of competitive poetry. Click here to watch last year's slam!

Page Poetry Contest - an annual competition for students to submit their written work to be judged by a professional poet, receive written feedback, and awarded prizes. Click here to read an article in the The Real Mainstream, by Caleb, about the winners.

March Madness - a seasonal event that provides an opportunity for students to participate in an unconventional form of competitive poetry that takes place on social media for the month of March.

Mic Check Poetry Fest - a three day annual event that provides students with writing workshops, panel discussions, performance opportunities, and other activities. Click here to learn more!

All images and text © Iowa City Poetry: 2012 - 2023. All rights reserved.

Privacy And Cookies