"It's almost like ministering," said Alyesha Wise, also known as Ms. Wise, a host, slam organizer and poet from Camden. "In freeing other people, you're also freeing yourself."
For a city struggling with gun violence, poverty and a host of other issues, poetry is therapeutic, many say, and has been crucial in helping people, especially the city's youth, cope and communicate.
"Things I couldn't say to my mom I said in a poem," said Charmira Nelson, 18, whose mother struggled with drug addiction and was her inspiration until she died last year after suffering with severe brain damage. "It helped me express myself. It was my way of showing her how I felt."
Philadelphia made its mark on the national poetry scene when a team of poets with the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement (PYPM), including Davis, 19, and Nelson, placed first in the 2011 Brave New Voices poetry slam and second last year.
In recent years, groups including PYPM, the Pigeon Presents and Mighty Writers, and literary magazines, including Apiary, have created outlets for poets and other literary artists to express themselves and perfect their craft. The poetry community is a close-knit, supportive bunch.
"This is one of the best ways to save lives," said Greg Corbin, PYPM founder and executive director. "They have so much to say. It's a great way of giving our young people something to smile about."
To find a venue near you, check out poetry247.com.
On Twitter: @Jan_Ransom