In the United States, a poetry subculture has grown up around a group of young, mostly non-white spoken-word artists. Although the work they produce is widely diverse, it tends to have a strong affinity with contemporary social reality and urban culture. The poets' work is not aimed at a mass audience, and they perform in small clubs. Each of them has found his or her own way to focus the power of the spoken word. Spitting Ink is a portrait of some of these artists. Interviews and live performances are interspersed with images of the streets of New York -- not the orderly, well-to-do neighborhoods, but their lively and sometimes dilapidated backstreet counterparts, with their graffiti-covered walls, subway trains, and bars. Spoken-word artist Mike Ladd speaks about this poetry's origins and background (its roots in gospel and other forms) and about how it reached a turning point with the arrival of rap. Beau Sia creates poetry both to impress the girls and to rebut prejudices about his Asiatic roots; Celena Glenn only writes once a year, when her head is full to overflowing and dozens of poems suddenly stream out.