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Posted by : cj on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 09:50 PM
Chicago Poetry News: Click On Headlines .
In Search of the Poetry Slam Shuffle

After years of failing at its own game, the Uptown Poetry Slam is getting major league serious about its attempt to take back the National Poetry Slam title in 2005. They are planning to use the momentum of a book release party (which will be catered, free and open to the public) to launch a series of aggressive poetry bouts, in a bid to find the strongest team of poets that exists in Chicago.

On Sunday, October 3, from 2 PM until 5 PM, the Green Mill (birthplace of the Poetry Slam) will be hosting the official book release party for "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Slam Poetry" (Penguin / Alpha Press), written by Marc K. Smith. A few fans got a sneak-preview of this book at the 2004 Chicago Poetry Fest, and now everyone can come on out for a special afternoon party for the official release of this major American title.

With more than two-thousand live performances to his credit, in such diverse venues as nightclubs, concert halls, libraries, universities, on city streets, even on top of freakin' hot dog stands, Marc K. Smith (otherwise known as the SlamPapi) still hangs on to his Chicago roots with an unyielding passion. He continues to personally hosts the Uptown Poetry Slam every Sunday night. Now, it appears that the father of Slam poetics has grown sick and tired of Chicago's dismal attempts to compete in the annual National Poetry Slam, and he's looking for some no-holds-barred poets to help win one for the Home Team. His new book is just the guide to help those who are serious about doing this for Chicago.

Smith's new book is a "how-to" bible, accompanied by two audio CDs. The book and CDs cover the roots of Slam poetry, the impact the Slam has had on modern day poetry, the future of the Slam, tips on how to Slam, inspirations to help you write and perform Slam poetry, and tools for organizing your own Poetry Slam. It will serve as a great reference for anyone who is also serious about making the 2005 Team Chicago one that can go all the way.

During the special afternoon party at the Mill, Smith will also present the first ever "Slam Jeopardy." Up to fifteen contestants will compete in a trivia contest based upon the new book, and the winners will stick around for a special evening face-off. The afternoon party is free and open to the public, and there will be refreshments provided by Susan O'Connell Catering and music by Strange Brothers plus One. The evening Slam that will follow starts at 7 PM; there will be the standard $6 cover for that one. The Green Mill is located at 4802 N. Broadway.

Probably the weirdest fact concerning the recent 2004 National Poetry Slam, was that a team from the Green Mill not only failed to make it to the finals, but didn't even represent in St. Louis at all.

Well, if Smith has his way, all that is about to change. It looks like this year, the Green Mill is getting a little more serious about shooting for the title in next year's National Poetry Slam, which will be happening in Albuquerque, New Mexico, August 2005. Smith is already beginning the process of seeking the most powerful team of four Chicago performance poets, with the "Team Chicago Slam Tournament" that is scheduled to begin on Sunday, September 26.

An open call has been sent out for poets to participate in preliminary bouts. Each bout will feature eight contestants; five of them may request reserved spots, three of the spots will only be made available on a first come first served basis to those who show up on the night of the bout. There will be one winner each month, all the way through May of 2005. Poets may reserve a spot by signing up at the Green Mill on any Sunday night during a slam, or by contacting the slam founder personally at his email address: With limited bouts, not everyone who wants one will get the reserved spots, so it would be wise to include your poetry bio. and also a letter explaining why you think you belong on the team. Members of the previous Green Mill slam teams are not eligible. That's right, the Green Mill is looking for a fresh team with some powerful new voices. They are looking for strong writing by poets who have an energetic performance style. This will be a great opportunity for the new crowd of performance poets to get into the action.

Winners of each preliminary bout will get (count it) twenty-five bucks. Whew. But more importantly, they will get the opportunity to compete in the semi-final bouts, held in June, 2005. The judges for all the bouts will consist of pre-selected as well as randomly chosen people.

Do you want to help Chicago take back the National Poetry Slam title? Well, it's about time. Here are the dates for the preliminary bouts, all of them Sundays: (2004) September 26, October 24, November 28, (2005) January 23, February 27, March 27, April 24 and May 22. If you lose in your first attempt, you may enter once again and give it another try, but if you lose twice, that's it kiddo. You will need at least three poems (no longer than three minutes each) to compete in the preliminary bouts.

Now, let's say you win. Well then, you go on to the semi-final bouts, which will be held in 2005 on June 5, 12, 19 and 26. There will be up to four poets competing in each semi-final bout. The two high scoring poets from each bout will go onto the Finals during a special show on July 10. And the winners of that slam will then go on to The National Poetry Slam in August.

Sounds tough? You bet it is. Better get your best work together and practice performing it at your local poetry venues, before you show for your bout. Get busy. Help win one for the Home Team.

--C. J. Laity, reporting the poetry news for ya'.

**We hope you found the information on this page useful. needs your help. We are holding a fundraising drive in order to stay online. There are two ways that you can help: Click here to offer a financial gift or click here to order the new book by Press.

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