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For both performers and communities, performance poetry serves as a vehicle to disseminate information, dispel misinformation and myths that may be common to a local setting, and provide educational messages about transmission and protective barriers (Hovey, Booker, & Seligman, 2006; Lichtenstein, 2005; Moyo, 2010; Pietrzyk, 2009). black communities have a long history as intergenerational vehicles of expression, from slavery through the Harlem Renaissance, to the Civil Rights movement and current popular culture (Ashe, 2002).Performance poetry is well suited for communicating messages within African American communities (Banks-Wallace, 2002). Performance poetry, colloquially referred to as spoken word, combines elements of music and literary expression that can appeal to audiences of varying ages, literacy levels, and socioeconomic classes.Results indicated that spoken word has the ability to build upon local resources, generate community reflection, and engage a broad spectrum of performers and audiences. regions, the South has the highest rates of HIV diagnoses — 23.8 per 100,000 (Reif, Whetten, Osterman, & Raper, 2006); and 64% of people living with AIDS in rural areas reside in Southern states (Reif & Whetten, 2012).

Methods The SWP is a collaborative effort between residents of Edgecombe and Nash Counties of NC and Project GRACE (Growing, Reaching, Advocating for Change and Empowerment), a community based participatory research (CBPR) collaboration aimed at reducing disparities in health in African-American communities.Performers often report a sense of individual empowerment and self-healing from the process of self-reflection and sharing of their life experiences (Chung, Corbett, Boulet, Cummings, Paxton, Mc Daniel, Mercier, Franklin, Mercier, Jones, Collins, Koegel, Duan, Wells, & Glik, 2006; Des Jarlais et al., 2006; Valente & Bharath, 1999).For the audience or broader community, performance poetry encourages dialogue around HIV; dispels stigma by encouraging community-wide empathy and social responsibility; and creates opportunities to discuss strategies for communities to engage in HIV prevention (Moyo, 2010).We recruited adolescents and adults who: 1) self-identified as African-American, 2) were living in Edgecombe or Nash counties, and 3) were youth ages 10–17 years or caregivers at least 18 years of age.Recruitment postcards were sent to all eligible participants who had previously participated in another HIV prevention project, and consent was obtained before the project began.

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