Tuesday, August 2, 2016
National Poetry Slam in Atlanta this week reminds me of late nights in an Al Capone speakeasy.
As a young man growing up in Chicago one of the interesting off beat places to hang on a Sunday night with friends was the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, an old speakeasy operated by Al Capone whereby it was on those evenings that the jazz club was taken over by the Uptown Poetry Slam.
Now in its 30th year, The Uptown Poetry Slam is the not only the longest running show in Chicago, but the original poetry slam on the planet. Every week, slam originator Marc Smith takes the stage with co-host, J.W. Basilo to bring a raucous performance poetry show to standing room only audiences. That’s right, what has been called “the most important literary movement of our time,” all began with one show and that show is still running every Sunday at the Green Mill. This isn’t your everyday poetry reading; the slam is an engaging, interactive, free-for-all that has to be seen to be understood. A live band sets the mood for the show and never fails to impress. The show begins with an open mic at 7PM and is followed by a “feature set” at 8PM, spotlighting some the hottest talent in the country. Once the crowd is good an warmed up, the world famous slam competition kicks off at 9PM with the crowd hanging on every word and ready to react with snaps and stomps if they don't like what they hear.
I saw that the Green Mill is sending a talented team of poets to Decatur this week to compete in the National Poetry Slam and figured I would share the event for those who might be interested.
National Poetry Slam
Aug. 1-6, 2016
The National Poetry Slam is an annual poetry slam championship tournament where four to five person teams from all over the U.S., Canada and Europe gather to compete for the national team title and this year, it is taking place in Decatur. The week-long festival is part championship tournament, part poetry summer camp, and part traveling exhibition.
Click here for a full schedule of events and locations. The ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at the Decatur Visitors Center on Monday, Aug. 1, 7 p.m.