Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey is an author, performer, and producer. He hails from Columbia, Missouri, and holds a B.A. in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Iowa. His debut book, Look, Black Boy, became Amazon’s #1 new release in African American poetry, and was awarded first prize in the North Street Book Prize. His second book, Heart Notes, was published in 2019 and was featured on Iowa Public Radio. He released two spoken word albums, a studio version of Look, Black Boy, and a performance album titled, Heart Notes Live! In 2023, as a part of the Brucemore Artisan in Studio Program, Caleb produced his first short film, Willing to Grow. He also co-founded the literary magazine Black Art; Real Stories, was published in Iowa's Best Emerging Poets - 2019, the Little Village Magazine, and wrote a monthly column for The Real Mainstream. For three years in a row he was named Best Poet/Spoken Word Performer in Cedar Rapids & Iowa City.
As a performer Caleb is the winner of multiple poetry slams across the country. In 2023 he competed in the UNESCO Slam-0-Vision global poetry slam where he ranked 7th worldwide. He has taken the stage in countless cities, including Saint Louis, Kansas City, Baltimore, Washington DC, Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta, Houston, Chicago, New York City, and even internationally in London, England. He has shared the stage with spoken word titans such as Siaara Freeman, Denice Frohman, Javon Johnson, Ebony Stewart, Anthony McPherson, Danez Smith and Patricia Smith. Videos of his performances are also online at Write About Now and Button Poetry. Outside of poetry, Caleb acted in a number of plays, some of which include Blood at the Root, I and You, and the Iowa debuts Exit Strategy and Luna Gale.
When he is not writing and performing he is actively curating a community of spoken word poets in Iowa City through his high school program, IC Speaks, and producing events like the Mic Check Poetry Fest.