Anthology of Hip Hop Poetics

deadline for submissions: 
June 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Breaking Down Bars: Perspectives on Hip Hop Poetics Anthology

Breaking Down Bars: Perspectives on Hip Hop Poetics

In the ever-expanding field of Hip-Hop studies, scholarship on the poetic form of Hip Hop texts is still in its earliest stage of development.  Adam Bradley, Alexis Pate and a few other scholars have produced foundational work that uses critical tools drawn from the study of literary poetics to illuminate formal aspects of Hip Hop verse.  Breaking Down Bars will build on that foundation by gathering together a collection of essays all focused on Hip Hop poetics, all exploring the form of the poetry that is the aesthetic heart of Hip Hop.  We are seeking essays that consciously foreground poetic form, and which address cultural, political and aesthetic issues in Hip Hop texts as functions of, or in relation to, poetic form.  The essays of Breaking Down Bars will focus on topics such as meter, rhyme, line structure and lineation, narrative structure, narrative point of view and voice, and use of poetic devices—like metaphor, allusion, alliteration, etc.  With analysis concentrated on these topics, essays will explain the ways in which form in itself, or in its interaction with content, makes meaning and pleasure in Hip Hop’s poetic texts.  Although the essays will be organized by a common commitment to the analysis of poetic form, this analysis might be contextualized in myriad ways.  For example, contributors might chart the relation between poetics and geography (i.e. “Internal Rhyme Patterns in Early 90s West Coast Rap”), poetics and genre (i.e. “Narrative Voice in Mumble Rap”), or poetics and gender (i.e. “Gendering Voice Among Male MCs”).  Other essays might employ historicized methodologies that trace the development of formal traditions in Hip Hop poetics. (i.e. “Continuity and Change in Adlibbing Before, During and After the Golden Age of Hip Hop”).  Although this collection will likely be published by a major university press, the style and register of contributions need not be strictly “academic.”  We are looking for pieces that are fresh, ambitious and analytically rigorous, and we don’t assume that these qualities are found only in academic writing.  Collecting a wide variety of critical perspectives, all focused on the poetics of Hip Hop, Breaking Down Bars aims to be a definitive resource for scholars and students seeking greater understanding of some of the most powerful poetry produced in recent decades.  

Questions to be addressed in the collection include:

Where does “Hip Hop poetics” begin and end--how can we define this category? 

How do literary traditions and devices shape Hip Hop poetics?

How does Hip Hop poetics interact with subject-matter; i.e. what's the relation between poetic form and identity categories like gender, class, sexuality, etc.? 

What can Hip Hop poetics tell us about the future of poetry generally?

What is the relation between the poetics of Hip Hop and that of other modes of poetry?

Contributions should be between 3000 and 6000 words.  The submission deadline is June 30, 2019.  Submissions should be sent to the anthology editors, Dr. Tara Betts, Dr. Derik Smith, and Victorio Reyes Asili: