Poetry now has its own Grammy category

J. Ivy, “the suave poet” from Chicago
CTZN Chance/Burnculture/CTZN Chance/Burnculture

The Grammys have a new category, Best Spoken Word Poetry Album, for the first time in the history of the awards.

For decades, the Grammys’ spoken-word awards have gone to audio books, narrated by people like Barack and Michelle Obama, Carrie Fisher, Stephen Colbert and others – “Best Audio Book, Narration & Storytelling Recording” is the official title for the statue. 

According to NPR, the Chicago-born poet J. Ivy helped create the new category and is one of five contenders for the award, though he didn’t nominate himself. 

As a national trustee for the Recording Academy, the outlet adds, Ivy says he pushed for the Grammys to honour the form.

“A poet will be bringing home a Grammy,” he tells NPR, “and it’ll be the first poet since Maya Angelou.”

Ivy is nominated for his sixth album, The Poet Who Sat by the Door, a nod to Sam Greenlee’s 1969 novel The Spook Who Sat by the Door, a classic in the Black Power movement that was also made into a film in 1973.

Ivy’s album is a collection of his poems, which he performs over beats and interpolates with singing by Sir The Baptist, Slick Rick, PJ Morton and Tarrey Torae (Ivy’s wife), among others.

“I’ve seen the superpower that is poetry. I’ve seen it shift people’s lives, I’ve seen it save lives,” says Ivy. “I have a quote that says, ‘Poetry is the seed of every song ever written.’ Whether it’s somebody rapping or singing or it being spoken, it’s a poem there.”

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