F196. Literature and Hip Hop: An Investigation, Sponsored by Rain Taxi Review of Books

Main Auditorium, Level 1
Friday, April 10, 2015
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm


Arguments abound over whether rap is or isn't poetry, with some arguing for its literary merit and others saying it shouldn't have to smuggle itself into the critical conversation tucked in the dust jacket of another genre. This group of acclaimed practitioners of hip hop and poetry alike, including Kevin Beacham, Dessa, POS, and Adrian Matejka, will showcase hip hop lyrics and poems and debate about the spaces where literature and hip hop converge.


Adrian Matejka is the author of The Devil’s Garden, Mixology, which was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series, and The Big Smoke, winner of the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Award. He teaches creative writing and English literature at Indiana University Bloomington. 

Dessa is a rapper, writer, and member of the Doomtree collective. Her most recent album, Parts of Speech, debuted at #76 on the Billboard charts. Literary wit and a magnetic live show have earned praise from critics throughout the US and in Europe. She has written two literary collections: Spiral Bound is primarily creative nonfiction, and A Pound of Steam is a poetry chapbook. Her essays have appeared in The Star Tribune, Minnesota Monthly, and on Minnesota Public Radio.    

P.O.S. built his reputation as a hip-hop innovator with a punk rock past and expressive, honest content. He is a founding member of the Doomtree collective and is currently signed to Rhymesayers Entertainment. He creates his own self-contained microcosm of characters and inside jokes, and he doesn’t hesitate to call out the compounding absurdities of our era. He is also active in side projects such as indie super-group Gayngs, Marijuana Deathsquads, and the Four Fists, a band named after and inspired by the fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Kevin Beacham is a respected hip-hop educator, writer, and DJ. He has worked at the Minneapolis-based Rhymesayers Entertainment/Fifth Element for over a decade and has been active as a radio show host since 1995, starting on WNUR in Chicago. He has contributed countless writings to magazines and websites, both locally and internationally, and is currently at work on a series of books, the first of which is titled Microphone Mathematics, a detailed and critical look at the evolution of rhyme-writing throughout hip-hop’s history.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center