Youth Voices and Knowledges: Slam Poetry Speaks to Social Policies

Amanda Fields, Shannon Snapp, Stephen T. Russell, Adela C. Licona, Elizabeth H. Tilley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Policies related to youth and their sexuality, health, and rights are rarely informed by youth voices and perspectives. We sought to understand youth voice and knowledges in their conceptions of youth rights expressed through slam poetry. We draw from theories of critical race, LatCrit, and asset-based approaches to adolescent sexual health to explore youth’s perspectives on sexuality, health, and rights. Using rhetorical and content analysis, we analyzed 50 poems from a local organization that supports youth poetry slam. Key themes that emerged in our analyses included youth (in 33 % of poems), sexuality (7 %), health (10 %), and rights (7 %). A smaller selection of poems (n = 9) that represented key themes were chosen for critical analysis. Youth consistently responded to regressive legislation in Arizona through slam poetry and expressed the desire for rights to knowledges and the need for supportive policies and practices that consider and reflect the complex realities of their lives. Youth made calls for action and community outreach, and they used poetry as an expression of social action and change. We conclude that youth voice may inform policies and practices that are comprehensive in support of sexual health and rights for youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-321
Number of pages12
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2014


  • Health
  • Legislation
  • Poetry
  • Rights
  • Sexuality
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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