Everyone’s a Writer: Slam Poetry Resources

Graphic saying that Everyone's a Writer: Slam Poetry resources

When most people hear the term ‘creative writing,’ they may think it’s a thing that only people who identify as writers can pursue or that it’s complicated. But I am here to let you know that it’s not true, because everyone’s a writer. Now that may sound a little bit corny, but it’s true. Think about when you craft a status on social media, when your teacher assigns you to free write in class, when you brainstorm ideas, or when you journal – those are all forms of writing and specifically creative writing.

For me personally, I consider myself a writer. Not a great one, but a writer nonetheless. And one of my all time favorite forms of writing is slam poetry – also known as spoken word.

Now, there are often misconceptions that poetry is complex or has to rhyme or has to be super aggressive – especially slam poetry. So here are some tips to help you tap into your inner writer and inner slam poet.

Where to Start

Are you wondering how to start creative writing? Well, you’ve probably already started. Just think of the last thing that you wrote and boom you will realize you’ve already done it.

Let’s talk about the mechanics of creative writing as a beginner. To begin, it’s always easier to start writing in a space were you feel comfortable. Then, you will want to clear your mind. I suggest some deep breathing. It may seem a little bit extra, but I want to stress that having a clear mind when writing is very important; however, you do not have to use deep breathing as your relaxation method – you can use whatever makes you feel calm.

Once you are comfortable and in a good head space, you should start writing. Get out a piece of paper or a notebook and something to write with and just write! It doesn’t matter what, just write something and worry about putting it together later.

What is Slam Poetry?

Slam poetry, or its more formal name spoken word poetry, is where you free write about something that you care about, and typically you’ll say it in front of people at a poetry slam. It’s very informal. You write how you feel about something, memorize it and perhaps perform it. Oftentimes, spoken word can be very rap based and may seem intense at first because people are speaking about topics that they care about with almost no guidelines which is why it can be so much fun.

Writing Spoken Word

There is no guide to writing spoken word. Just sit down and write your feelings down. Then you’ll have the basis of a spoken word poem right there. Remember not to force it and don’t compare your work to anyone else’s work because everyone’s poetry is their own.

Wrapping Up

If you take away anything from this, remember that writing isn’t a closed off thing for authors or poets. Everyone truly is a writer, and spoken word is a great place to start because you can truly write about and do whatever you want with it.

If you consider yourself a writer already and are lacking inspiration, the library has many booksthat you can check out. Below, I’ve listed some materials to help you get started in your creative writing journey, as well as some of my personal favorite spoken word poems.

Remember, everyone’s a writer!

Library Books on Creative Writing

Just Imagine: Music, Images and Text to Inspire Creative Writing by James Carter

The Future of Creative Writing by Graeme Harper

Let the Crazy Child Write: Finding Your Creative Voice by Clive Matson

Helpful YouTube Links for Creative Writing

Quick Calm Deep Breathing Example

What is Slam Poetry

Tips on How to ‘Become’ a Slam Poet

Tyla’s Slam Poetry Favorites


Brown Skin Girl

White Privilege

Mental health Barz

Angry Black Women

I’m So Black


Movie Recs: Home for the Holidays

Collage of Christmas movie covers

With finals approaching and everyone gearing up to go home for winter break, it’s the perfect time to destress and think positive. We know it can be difficult stay positive and not check out when the semester is nearing the end. What better way to do this than to FaceTime or visit your families, hook up your DVD player and pop in some of your favorite holiday and festive movies!

The Library has you covered! DVD and Blu-Ray players are available for check out at the library main desk, as well as many popular feature films.

Here are some of our favorite holiday movie recommendations:

Almost Christmas
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Babes in Toyland
The Blind Side
Sherlock Gnomes
Home Alone
Frozen 2
Eight Crazy Nights
Disney Short Films Collection
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Need a speaker? They are available for check out at the library main desk via our Library of Things collection.

So, if the end of the semester is dragging you down and you are missing your family, reconnect with a family movie binge night and fight the urge to shut down.

How to Celebrate the Best Thanksgiving

Celebrating Thanksgiving with help from Brookens Library graphic

For students who are planning to stay on campus for Thanksgiving or for those getting ready to host a Friendsgiving celebration, the thought of cooking and preparing food can definitely be intimidating. Whether you’re experienced in the kitchen or a beginner, Brookens Library has tips and tools that can help you have a successful and stress-free Thanksgiving!

Tools in the Library of Things

The Library of Things has a variety of items, including games (that are great for some after-dinner entertainment!), technology, home, and kitchen items! For college students on a budget who may not be able to afford some pricier kitchen essentials, the library has an ice cream maker, waffle maker, immersion blender, and more that can be checked out for seven days at a time.

Cooking can definitely be intimidating for those who don’t have a lot of experience with it. Even more intimidating, however, is cooking for a crowd on Thanksgiving when everyone expects perfection. If you’re slightly (or very) worried about the dishes you’re going to prepare for the holiday, then check out some of these suggested recipes.



Side dishes


Hopefully these tips can help you have a successful Thanksgiving on or off campus! If you’re looking for even more recipes, Brookens has many cookbooks that are available both in-person and online. Happy Thanksgiving!

12 Movies for a Cuddle Night

Cuddle Season has arrived!

As the weather is getting colder, it’s time to cuddle up and watch a movie. Grab your partner, some popcorn, and a blanket then snuggle up and watch one of the twelve movies below. Check out these featured films at Brookens Library.

These classic films are perfect to watch with your significant other:
The Notebook
Romeo and Juliet
The Great Gatsby

These films are great to stay in and chill for the night:
Love & Basketball
Sleepless in Seattle
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

These films are excellent for a good, romantic laugh:
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
27 Dresses
Valentine’s Day
Say Anything

Need a DVD or Blu-Ray player? They are available for check out at the library main desk via our Library of Things collection.

Thousands of eBooks Newly Available

Brookens Library is participating in a collaborative eBook Program with other members of the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI). In March 2021, the CARLI Board approved a proposal to issue a call for crowdfunding for a FY22 CARLI eBook program to purchase a collection of eBooks that are available to all CARLI members, not just the purchasing institution. In addition, contributing member libraries can continue to purchase items that are available in the I-Share online catalog.

Through a renewal of this agreement, you now have access to 23,000+ Wiley Online Book until June 2022. A listing of the titles available for UIS and CARLI members through the Wiley site can be found here. This include all subjects, as well as all years available within the Wiley Online Library. All titles have unlimited access for CARLI members through June 30, 2022 and may be used as course materials or for course reserves. Direct links may be embedded into course management systems. In fact, staff at Brookens Library are aware of at least one eBook in the package that is a current course textbook.

UIS and CARLI members will have access to Oxford University Press eBooks on the Oxford Scholarship Online platform in addition to the Wiley Online Books, also until June 30, 2022.  This includes titles in nine subject areas: Biology, History, Law, Music, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Social Work, and Sociology with publication dates of 2018– June 2022. In addition, you will also have access to more than 1,600 eBook titles from Oxford University Press purchased through a program CARLI piloted in FY21. A listing of the titles from Oxford Scholarship Online can be found here. Once you select a subject collection you can limit to available items.

The advantages of purchasing eBooks collaboratively as a consortium are numerous: providing access online is equitable and inclusive, it allows limited library budgets to go further, and eBooks can be particularly useful if needed for instruction or supplemental reading. eBooks can be downloaded onto a variety of devices as well to be read at your convenience. 

Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month

LGBTQ+ History Month is a month-long celebration each October that honors the history of the LGBTQ+ community and the importance of the gay rights movement. Created in 1994, the month gives people the opportunity to learn about LGBTQ+ history and ways to help the community. Even for those who are not LGBTQ+, this celebratory month is important because it recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of a community that has been harmfully removed from history.

One way to honor LGBTQ+ history, is by celebrating and reading LGBTQ+ authors. Both historically and modernly, there are many amazing authors who are members of the community. At Brookens Library, we have some amazing options for diverse LGBTQ+ literature from a variety of different authors.

Even if you aren’t an avid reader, there are several LGBTQ+ movies you can borrow as well.

One reason why the creation and consumption of LGBTQ+ books and movies is so important is because of the significance of representation. Representation matters because people who come from different and diverse backgrounds often have unique perspectives that may not be seen otherwise. It is common for marginalized groups (the LGBTQ+ community in this case) to struggle to have their voices and opinions heard when society chooses to focus on what is considered to be standard or traditional. Oftentimes, when these diverse perspectives are hidden, others who have the same views worry that they are alone in having these thoughts or somehow wrong for thinking the way they do.

By celebrating and promoting LGBTQ+ authors and content, we’re elevating the voices of this marginalized community and providing representation for those who may not see themselves in traditional media. We are also actively showing our support for the LGBTQ+ community and creating a space where members of the community can feel welcomed and free to be themselves.

For LGBTQ+ students or allies looking for more information, Gender and Sexuality Student Services is an amazing resource!

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

What is Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday meant to honor and commemorate Native Americans and their history and culture. The holiday is celebrated on the second Monday of October by hundreds of cities and counties across the United States of America. One of the first cities in Illinois to adopt the holiday officially was Oak Park, Illinois in 2017. Although Indigenous Peoples’ Day is not yet considered a national holiday, it has gained popularity in the past decade. However, there is hope that the holiday will gain even more national traction because President Joe Biden issued a presidential proclamation of the holiday on October 8, 2021. 

The Importance of Indigenous People’s Day 

Prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas, millions of Native Americans resided all across North and South America. Since then, Indigenous folks have experienced centuries of trauma and tribulation. From the arrival of Columbus until the 1600s, 90% of the Indigenous population was killed due to slavery, mass genocides, and diseases. Thousands of years worth of rich history and cultures were destroyed. Today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Native Americans make up only 2.08% of the United States’ population. This is why honoring Native American stories and culture is so crucial. We must not ignore the tragedies that occurred throughout American history but rather, acknowledge the immense suffering that Native Americans have had to endure for generations. On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we uplift Native American voices and educate ourselves on the history and culture that has long been forgotten. 

Honoring Native American Voices in Media 

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, take the time to learn about Native American history, culture, traditions, and individual experiences. At Brookens Library, you can take out a variety of books that focus on the perspective of Native American writers and main protagonists. You can also check out some of these books through the eBook service provided by the library – cloudLibrary

Books to Check Out: 

Learn More About How To Support

Basics of Research

Research can be overwhelming, especially for students who don’t have a lot of experience with it. Luckily, the research process can be broken down into smaller, more manageable parts that make the experience easier and less stressful.

Understand your assignment.

Trying to start your research without understanding your assignment will lead nowhere – it’s like driving to a destination without a GPS or any sense of direction. Focus on the length of your assignment, the due date, and the types of sources you’ll need to use.

Choose a topic.

If possible, choose a topic that interests you. This will make the assignment more fun, and much easier to complete. If you don’t know very much about the potential topics, then you can do a little background research to help you decide.

Figure out what information you’ll need.

Information can come from many different source types – including books, journals, newspapers, and more. Sometimes professors will require you to use either scholarly or popular sources as well. Scholarly sources can typically be characterized as works where scholars wrote peer-reviewed academic research that explores a new discovery in their field. Popular sources are intended for general audiences and have the purpose of informing, entertaining, or persuading.

Identify a research question.

This step is really helpful in narrowing down what you’re going to be searching for. It will also help add focus to your project. Consider a variety of brainstorming strategies, such as concept mapping.

Explore sources.

Brookens has access to a lot of different databases, so knowing where to start can sometimes be confusing. For general research, Academic Search Complete and Google Scholar are great places to start. For more in-depth searches, our research guides have recommended databases for many different subjects.

Start searching

You should definitely pay careful attention to your search terms. Selecting important keywords from your research question will help you get better results than if you try to search your question.

Evaluate the information you’ve found.

There are a few things to focus on when deciding if you want to use a piece of research.

  • Is the information current? (Or, is it important for you to use up-to-date information for this project?)
  • Is the research relevant? Will this information help you complete your assignment?
  • Did this come from a credible author/source?
  • Is the information accurate? (You may need to check with other research to answer this.)
  • Is this research attempting to persuade you or give you an opinion? (You may need to reconsider how you’re going to use the information after you answer this.)

Cite your sources.

Citing your sources accurately is really important in order to avoid plagiarism. The Purdue OWL is a great source for information on citations – it has great tips and goes into detail on everything you need to know for different citation styles.

If you ever have any other questions about the research process, feel free to reach out to the library for help! You can either contact a librarian for subject-specific questions, use the library’s online chat service (which can be found on the library’s homepage) for the more general questions you may have, or check our FAQs!

Banned Books Week 2021

Banned Books Week promotional graphic

Banned Books Week is an annual event that celebrates the freedom to read. This year the theme of the week is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” The purpose of Banned Books Week is to come together as a reading community and support everyone’s freedom to read what they want. The books that we feature this week have either been challenged or banned in libraries and schools because of their content.

You can head to cloudLibrary to check out some popular eBooks from our library that you may not have known were banned or challenged.

The American Library Association (ALA) has a great list that includes each year’s top ten most challenged books.

The ALA also provides support for anyone who’s fighting against a book’s challenge or ban, and encourages people to reach out and report censorship when they can.

Protecting the freedom to read is important for everyone – librarians, students, faculty, and the community. Censorship threatens this freedom and creates unnecessary and unwanted barriers between readers. Thanks to the hard work of many librarians, students, teachers, and members of the community, however, most books are still available for readers. This is definitely a cause for celebration, and another main reason why Banned Books Week is such a big deal every year.

Extra! Extra! Read All About Comic Books!

Yes, it’s true. Brookens Library has comic books.

Comic books have been around since the 1930s, and nearly everyone in the United States have read at least one comic book in their lifetime. These types of books are known for entertainment purposes and for kids only. However, comic books are NOT only for kids. It does not matter what age you are to read a comic book. They are for everyone to enjoy!

Some are less than 30 pages and some are over 30 pages. It’s your choice to choose what comic book that you want to read for your enjoyment. If you are one of the people who haven’t read a comic book EVER, then here is your chance to read one! At Brookens Library, we make sure to have different types of books to please everyone in the community or on campus. To celebrate National Comic Book Day (on September 25th), we have some recommended comic books from our cloudLibrary down below. 

CloudLibrary even has an app so you don’t have to constantly go to a google browser to read your books. It’s also FREE on Google Play and the App store!