Chicago poet J. Ivy wins Grammy in category he helped create

The first winner for best spoken-word poetry album is Ivy’s ‘The Poet Who Sat by the Door.’

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J. Ivy poses with his trophy for best spoken word poetry album Sunday backstage at the Grammy Awards.

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J. Ivy, the Chicagoan who spent six years lobbying for a Grammy category for spoken-word poetry albums, on Sunday became the category’s first winner.

“Let it be known, this is for the poets y’all,” Ivy said has he thrust his Grammy into the air. He won for his fourth album, 2022’s “The Poet Who Sat by the Door.”

In his acceptance speech during the pre-telecast Grammy ceremony, the wordsmith shouted out his high school English teacher 30 years after she singled him out in class.

Ivy’s teacher, Paula Argue, assigned him to write a poem and read it aloud in class at Rich Central High in suburban Chicago. As a shy kid, he was nervous.

“I was really good at writing notes to girls, but other than that, I didn’t think I had a gift,” Ivy told the Sun-Times last week.

“I received a standing ovation that day and I decided to keep going,” Ivy said. “Somebody saw me and gave me a chance.”

The winning album features contributions from John Legend, Slick Rick, PJ Morton, Sir the Baptist, BJ the Chicago Kid and a number of other talents.

“The album and the music is all centered around hope and love and fighting for betterment of our people,” Ivy told the Sun-Times in January. “It’s definitely my best work, and I’m super proud of it.”

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