Reasons to Fall in Love w/ Slam Poet Rives

John Rives is a world of talent. He’s a teacher of media, a political commentator, an author of pop-up books, a paper engineer, and a former television co-host (Bravo’s Ironic Iconic America). And all of these credentials come second to being on of the best slam poets in the world. Rives was the 2004 National Poetry Slam Champion and has performed on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam numerous times. But don’t let the connotation of being a slam poet fool you, especially if you aren’t too familiar with the art form.

Rives’ poems are not meant to be revolutionary. You won’t see him use the platform to call out for political, social, or economic activism, which many slam poets do. He’s simply a storyteller, and an incredibly dynamic one. With his incorporation of humor through his clever wording on a stage where his presence is glowing, Rives is one slam poet to swoon over. And here are seven reasons why:


 “When I tell her simple, sentimental things like ‘hey, listen, butthead. Op-I l-op-ve y-op-ou.’ I know, even if my nephew’s cartoon is just kicking like mad in the background, that this woman is going to speak my language.” 

Sign Language

 “I was born as deaf and as quiet as a starfish. But If I had been born a man, I would pray to the lord above every night at the top of my fucking lungs, just to thank him for giving me voice.”


If I Controlled the Internet

 “If I ran the web, you could email dead people…they would not email you back. But you’d get an automated reply, their name in your inbox. It’s all you wanted anyway. And a message saying, ‘hey, it’s me. I miss you. Listen, you’ll see, being dead is dandy. Now you go back to raising kids and waging peace and craving candy.’”



 “Me plus charismatic, for example, does not equal gorgeous, and I should know…I shave me. And I scribble ‘stunning is only skin deep’ on that little scrap of toilet paper I tend to tear a part the days my blemished face, my blemished face has bled enough. But the day they make me gorgeous, if they just begin with the skin, I swear I’ll take care of the deep stuff.”



 “You mean things to people on a daily basis. And this petty poem won’t explain just how my favorite your face is. But, I wish I’d been your bathroom mirror the day they took off your braces.”



 “I’ll put a mockingbird on a late night train just to get an old man snoring. I’ll get your ex-lover tell some one else ‘good morning.’ I’ll get everyone’s good mornings. I don’t care how you make ‘em. Konichiwa, shalom, asalamalakum.”



 “I am taking a nap beneath your covers. Wake me if you like me. Wake me if you want me. Wake me if you need another poem. Your once and future lover has made himself at home.”



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7 Comments on “Reasons to Fall in Love w/ Slam Poet Rives”

  1. 07.7.11 at 1:12 AM #

    Pure Talent. Rives has almost just as much talent as the person who wrote this article, although Rives may be a little better looking. Don’t forget Rives – “dirty talk” and thank you youtube because if it wasn’t for having an outlet such as you, where people can rip off trademarked shows and post them for free on the interent, we would have never known about Rives. Or been given the oppurtunity to re-watch things like fraggle rock and Eureka’s castle.

  2. 07.25.11 at 4:38 PM #

    Yes. This I completely and totally love. I was torturing Shawn with my Slam Poet bender last week. Rives is spectacular, his poetry is immensely expressive and I think it’s due to the fact he surrounds himself with scenarios that breed word exploration, his teaching of deaf kids, his ability to play, with himself and wiiith himself.
    Yes. Good job, Dan!

  3. Johnny Case
    09.30.11 at 8:16 PM #

    I’m late to see this post, but for the record I fell in love with Rives a year ago when I stumbled upon some of his work on YouTube. I’ve been a reader of poetry since childhood, but only discovered Spoken Word a few years ago and now I’m hooked. And I think Rives has cemented my infatuation – he is a stellar wordsmith!

    A big ‘I agree with you’ to Mr Connolly.

  4. 09.30.11 at 9:05 PM #

    Glad to see this post, Rives is an amazing poet. As a poet myself who performs, I look up to him. Great!

  5. Makafui
    10.1.11 at 1:43 PM #

    hear, hear! I was hooked since “Op Talk”.

  6. 10.1.11 at 6:09 PM #

    Rives and I were slam teammates in Hollywood. Very creative and innovative writer. Glad to see others discovering him.

  7. 10.2.11 at 1:30 AM #

    Done. I’m in love with Rives. I’m not very knowledgable when it comes to slam poetry, but I love what I’ve seen, especially here.

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