Caleb Rainey, The Spoken Word


Caleb is a ‘Spoken Word’ artist who conducts workshops for kids and adults.

From Rainey’s website:

Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey is an author, performer, and producer. He hails from Columbia, Missouri, and holds a bachelor’s degree in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Iowa. His debut book, Look, Black Boy, became Amazon’s #1 new release in African American poetry and was featured on Iowa Public Radio. His second book, Heart Notes was published in 2019. In 2020 he was named Best Poet/Spoken Word Performer in Cedar Rapids & Iowa City. In 2021 he converted the poems from his first book to create his first spoken word album, Look, Black Boy. He co-founded the literary magazine Black Art; Real Stories was published in Iowa’s Best Emerging Poets – 2019, the Little Village Magazine, and wrote a monthly column for The Real Mainstream

As a performer, he is the winner of the Des Moines Poetry Slam, the Iowa City Poetry Slam, a two-time winner of the Fire & Ice Poetry Slam, and a finalist for the UNESCO City of Literature Global Poetry Slam – Iowa City. He has done spoken word across the nation including Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Colorado, Illinois, New York City, and has even performed internationally in London, England. He was the opening poet for Dan Brown, featured on the album Blk Boi Joy, and acted in the Iowa debut of the plays, Exit Strategy and Luna Gale

When he is not writing and performing he is actively curating a community of spoken word poets in Iowa City through his creation of a high school program, IC Speaks, and producing local events like the Mic Check Poetry Festival.

Caleb Rainey


  • 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 their 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, or even a talented storyteller, but if you cannot hook your audience, they won’t stick around long enough for you to prove it. This workshop, designed for poets & storytellers, 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, Javon Johnson, Sabrina Benaim, Blythe Bard, and many others.
  • Protest With Poetry: A Generative Spoken Word Workshop As writers, we are asked to be aware–to observe, analyze, empathize–but perhaps the most important action we can take is using our knowledge to create change. For decades spoken word artists tackle this task with fervor, finding themselves in the front lines of protests and even the front steps of the white house. In times like these we are in need of even more writers taking the brave step into the world of spoken word. In this workshop we will discuss the basic approach to writing a politically charged spoken word poem, analyze contemporary examples, and try our hand at writing our own piece.