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United Nations classifies spoken-word poetry as a form of torture

New south
Louisa Gheorghita / The Daily Princetonian

The following content is purely satirical and entirely fictional.

Content warning: The following article contains descriptions of various literary forms that readers may find annoying.


On Thursday, the campus literary community was left in a rare state of aposiopesis after the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) unanimously voted to classify spoken word poetry as a form of torture.

This rare show of diplomatic unanimity demonstrates how hatred of slam poetry transcends political, religious, and social divides around the world. Despite their countries’ ongoing tensions, Morocco and Algeria’s representatives in Geneva issued a joint statement calling on the international community to come together to “stop this barbaric practice.”

Princeton spokesperson Abby Whelan praised the resolution, pledging that the University’s top priority is “ensuring students receive a quality education free of literary torture.”

Originating in the 1980s, slam poetry is an art form where poems are screamed at defenseless, unsuspecting audiences in coffeehouses, bookstores, and universities. Mao Zedong, Che Guevara, and Dick Cheney were all known to use slam poetry as a psychological weapon.

Leaders of Princeton’s resident slam poetry group, Princeton Poetic Justice (PPJ), defended the “art form” with an emotionally-charged and poorly-rhymed statement that we cannot print for the health and safety of our readers.

A 2012 report by the US Justice Department found that one in three American college students has been subjected to slam poetry, a figure confirmed by the University’s internal data.


Congressional leaders have also united in a bipartisan manner on this issue, with Senators Frost, Neruda, and Plath introducing a measure to make slam poetry a federally criminal offense, as it currently is in 27 states. A July Gallup poll found that 73 percent of likely voters agreed that spoken-word poetry was a “major threat to American values.”

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Human Rights Watch executive director Tirana Hassan warned the committee not to ignore the remaining threat posed by conceptual art, noise music, and improv comedy, and to not feel complacent after this most recent decision. When combined, she said, “we face an enemy that can never be told no.”

If you or someone you know has been subjected to spoken word poetry, help is available by calling 1-800-CESURA.

Sam McComb is a junior studying reverse psychology. His religion prohibits him from using verse.

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Fletcher Block is a junior studying sociology. He hates poetry because he believes the idea of an extended metaphor is a myth.