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Poetry Slams: Where Artistic Verbal Creations Compete

Marc Smith and Slam History

Marc Kelly Smith

Smith, a Chicago native is known as the founder and ‘father’ of the Slam Poetry Movement. As stated in the PBS television series, The United States of Poetry, a “strand of new poetry began at Chicago’s Green Mill Tavern in 1987 when Marc Smith found a home for the Poetry Slam. Since then, performance poetry has spread throughout the country and across the globe …

“From its beginning, slam has been an art form and entertainment open to all people from all walks of life-young and old, rich and poor, blue collar and white collar, gays and straights, priests and prostitutes, biologists and belly dancers — a multi-colored, multi-cultural gathering of people who love to hear and perform poetry”.

Marc Kelly Smith

The Spoken Word Revolution. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks MediaFusion, [2003].

Marc Kelly Smith

Stage a Poetry Slam. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks MediaFusion, 2009.

Marc Kelly Smith

Take the Mic. Naperville, Ill. : Sourcebooks MediaFusion, 2009.

Poetry Nation: the North American Anthology of Fusion Poetry. Edited by Regie Cabica and Todd Swift; with a foreword by Bob Holman Montréal : Véhicule Press, 1998.

Poetry Nation is a compelling anthology which focuses on the “fusion” of oral and written traditions. The editors focus on the ‘best’ non-traditional poetry from both the United States and Canada.

Burning Down the House: Selected Poems from the Nuyorican Poets Café’s National Poetry Slam Champions. New York (98 Suffolk # 3A, New York 10002): Soft Skull Press, [2000].

Featured are a selection of poetry from the 1998 National Slam Champion team, whose members have roots in the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City.

Susan B.A. Somers-Willett

The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry: Race, Identity, and the Performance of Popular Verse in America. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, [2009].

Focusing on African American poets, Somers-Willett explores the pros and cons of identity representation in the commercial arena of spoken word poetry. She argues that slams are culture--sites where identities and political values get publicly re-figured and exchanged between poets and audiences.

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Words in Your Face: a Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam. New York: Soft Skull Press: Distributed by Publishers Group West, [2008].

Words in your face provides an artistic overview of the slam poetry slam scene. She is the founder of the three-time National Poetry Slam Championship venue, NYC-Urbana. Additionally, she was awarded a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry.

Slam. New York: AlloyBooks, [2000].

A compilation of young adult slam poetry works with a foreword by Tori Amos. Slam provides an overview on slam poetry, how to have your own slam and even offers suggestions on ways to improve upon one’s poetry writing skills.

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