JUST YELL: POETRY as SELF DEFENSE emerged from my experience listening to youth in Chicago perform their poetry. While seated among hundreds in a packed stadium attending the Louder than a Bomb finals, I witnessed a Chicago youth stand in the center of the stage and spit a poem. During his performance, one could hear a pin drop, the room was filled with respectful listeners as this young man used poetry to construct walls around his body, which looked like the kind of bodies suffering physical injury from police and other systems of power. Each line seemed to hold up a wall that was attempting to cave in on him as he expressed his self worth. And somehow laced within this protection was this hope, these poetic jabs through the walls that would effectively open the oppressors, allow them too, to see his self worth. It was this moment that I realized poetry was being used as self defense.