Joe Davis is an award-winning spoken word artist and bestselling author who uses poetry to power possibility.

He is the founder and director of Finding Your Freedom Practice, teaching holistic health and wellness practices through spoken word, writing, music, theater, and dance.


Joe holds a Master of Arts degree in Theology of the Arts and also heads a multimedia production company, a soul funk band, and a racial justice education program.


His work has been featured on BET, MPR, CNN, VH1, and the Twin Cities CW. Based in Minneapolis, he tours internationally to join schools, faith spaces, nonprofits, and businesses to practice envisioning and embodying a world of Black Joy, Black Love, and Black Liberation—that leads to the liberation of all people.


To connect, book, or learn more, visit

What inspired you to start writing poetry, and how has your background growing up in Minnesota influenced your work? 

I had a lot of creative energy as a kid and I needed somewhere to put it. Art was always my outlet. At first it was playful and I would write poems to my schoolyard crush, but it became therapeutic when I got severely sick and began writing as a way to process my childhood trauma. Being immersed in the artist and activist communities throughout the Twin Cities taught me how to elevate the art as a catalyst for social and cultural transformation. Now I tour the country using poetry to power possibility, inviting the practice of envisioning and embodying a world beyond the status quo. 


Your poetry often explores themes of identity and social justice. Can you share some of the experiences or events that have shaped your perspective on these issues?


Encountering the work of Langston Hughes and Maya Angeluo at a young age is what first ignited my imagination and showed me what's possible for Black folks in spite of our circumstances. There was joy, there was hope, there was the unconditional love and affirmation of my humanity and the humanity of others like me.  Although I was further called into action by my community's response to police violence, I'm grateful to have been given a deep-rootedness of joy, hope, and love as initiating forces. 


Your movement, Northside Vibe, what is the inspiration behind this mission, and what message were you hoping to convey?


There's a vibe on the Northside! Far too often there's a stigma coming from those who don't truly know the beauty and dignity of the people who call North Minneapolis their home. Northside not only made me a better artist, but made me a better human. And I know plenty of people who could say the same. I want to celebrate that. I want us to honor the legacy of rich culture and artistic excellency that goes unnoticed. We're gonna keep talking about it, making art about it, making songs about it, making films about it-- until the world knows it's undeniable. 


As a poet, how do you navigate the balance between personal expression and addressing broader societal issues in your work?


Societal issues impact my life, especially as a Black man in this country. If I'm to speak the truth with any measure of honesty sooner or later I'll need to confront the systems we live in . My art is meant to name the social conditions while also reminding us that we have both the personal and collective power to transform them, to transcend them. I feel all good art serves that purpose. Otherwise it's irrelevant. 


Your performances often incorporate elements of spoken word and hip-hop. How do these art forms complement your poetry, and what unique qualities do they bring to your performances? 


I consider myself a Hip Hop poet because the essence of rap is R.A.P, "rhythmic American poetry." 

I trace the lineage of the artform back to the ancient West African griots who were the poets and storytellers of their people. We're doing the same today and can be called the "Neo Griots". I'm simply carrying forward the legacy of those before me and I always want to challenge myself to take risks and experiment to move the artform forward. 

When hearing me perform poetry, people might ask, "Is he spitting a poem, rapping, or inciting the next revolution?" And my response is, yes.  That's the spirit of Hip Hop.


Your poetry has been described as both deeply personal and universally relatable. How do you approach making your personal experiences accessible to a diverse audience?


I'm really intentional about being vulnerable when I write and perform. I want to connect with people. I want them to know that we're in community, we're in solidarity, we're all out here trynna heal and trynna get free. Although we may have vastly different lived experiences or take different approaches to life, I like to find language that brings us closer together through a common thread. We need more bridges and less barriers. That's the world that I wanna live in, so I use my poetry to create it. 


Collaboration seems to be a significant part of your creative process, whether it's working with other poets or musicians. How do these collaborations enhance your artistic vision, and what do you look for in potential collaborators?


Collaboration always make art better! I bring my dope ideas and some else brings their dope ideas and what we create together is way doper than what we could have ever imagine alone. That's true for life too. 

I like to collaborate with artists who inspire me. Artists who take the art serious enough to have fun. Artists who are open-minded and open-hearted and are in love with the creative process. If that's the vibe, then we can get down!


Your work often challenges conventional notions of poetry and performance. What do you hope audiences take away from your innovative approach to the art form?


Endless possibilities! 
Some bend the rules, I transcend the rules! 

I don't want anyone feeling stuck and stagnant, so I always like to shake things up. Keep the energy fresh, fun, and lively. I want people to walk away feeling more hopeful and more alive than when they came.  

Looking ahead, what themes or topics are you eager to explore in your future poetry, and how do you envision your creative journey evolving in the years to come?

I've been delving deeper into afrofuturism, using art to create the future we want to live in now. I've been exploring themes of masculinity and vulnerability in new ways. I'm really interested in the edges of liberation and I'm excited to join others in figuring out what that even means, what that looks like, feels, like, sounds like, smells like, tastes like. 

Let's go there together!


Do any musicians inspire you, in terms of how and what you write?


Absolutely! Bob Marley was such a vibrant soul and his music is such a powerful force of healing. J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar are culture bearers and lyrical geniuses. Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae are the perfect blend of soulful and smooth. There's too many artists to name, but music is LIFE. Poetry is word music and there's a song in every syllable. I love putting on a dope track, catching a vibe, and seeing what dimension it takes me to. 
Joe Davis 
Poet | Educator | Cultural Architect  
Pronouns: He/him/his
Cell #: 701-721-1935


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