Hook, Line, & Sinker


A Three-Week Workshop:

  • Tuesday, May 19, 6:00-8:00 pm (CDT)
  • Tuesday, May 26, 6:00-8:00 pm (CDT)
  • Tuesday, June 2, 6:00-8:00 pm (CDT)


  • Tuition: $75
  • Location: Zoom virtual workshop
  • Deadline: Registration closes Tuesday, May 19, 4:00 pm CT

Tuition Assistance Available!

Hook, Line, & Sinker

Hook, Line, & Sinker: Using Spoken Word Techniques to Capture & Hold an Audience

When a poet steps to the microphone, truth on the tip of their tongue and vulnerability in their voice, you listen. But what writing techniques does a performance poet use to hook an audience? From the syntax of the first line, to the structure of the whole poem, spoken word artists have found multiple ways to keep the audience's attention.

You may be a master at creating images, a poet that can capture passion and pain, even a talented storyteller, but if you cannot hook your audience they won't stick around long enough for you to prove it.

This 3-part workshop, designed for novice and experienced poets, will focus on the hook by examining the spoken word artists that have found a way—in just a minute—to capture the attention of millions of viewers online. The artists include names such as Neil Hilborn, Sabrina Benaim, Javon Johnson, Blythe Bard, and many others.

In the first session we will study the techniques employed by others and use them to create our own hooks. In the second session we will engage in a constructive, critiquing workshop. Finally, in the third session we will present our final, polished pieces.


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.  


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