Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Marc Kelly Smith  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult; Young Adult;

Born: 1949 in Chicago, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Smith is a native Chicagoan and born on the southeast side of the city.

Biographical and Professional Information

Marc Smith is best known for creating the ''Poetry Slam'' in 1986 at the Green Mill Tavern in Chicago. Born on the southeast side of Chicago, Smith’s sense of rhythm and realism has made him one of the country’s most compelling poetry performers. Smith has performed at The Smithsonian Institute, The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Chicago Museum of Contemporary, the Asheville Poetry Festival in North Carolina, 1st Night Annapolis in Maryland, The Innovator’s Festival in Washigton DC, the Kennedy Center, Galway’s Cruit Festival, Denmark’s Roskilde Festival, Ausburg’s ABC Brecht Festival, and the Queensland Poetry Fest in Australia. He has been featured on CNN, 60 Minutes, National Public Radio’s Whadda Ya Know, ARTbeat Chicago, Ophra, Wild Chicago, WGN Chicago’s Very Own and Chicago Slices.Smith’s poetry has been featured in Hammer’s Magazine, Chicago Magazine, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, Poetry Slam, an anthology, ''Aloud! Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe'', which won the 1994 American Book Award, and ''The United States of Poetry'', a publication that accompanied the PBS television series. Selections of his work can also be heard on the CDs: ''By Someone’s Good Grace'', a recording of the first National Slam Team Champions, ''Grand Slam: The 1995 National Slam'', ''It’s About Time'', and ''Quarters in the Juke Box''.He has also written and produced two stage plays: ''Flea Market, a night of monologues'', and A'' House Party For Henry'', an interactive play, and co-wrote, produced, and performed in the Zeitgeist Theater’s ''The Psychic Café''. He just recently debuted his highly acclaimed ''Sandburg to Smith'', a musical adaptation of Carl Sandburg’s poems and stories performed in concert with the Rootabaga Band.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

ISBN: 0965152200

Collage Press. 1996

Book by Smith, Marc Kelly

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Slam Poetry
ISBN: 1592572464

Alpha. 2004

Get in on the action...CD included!

According to the PBS television series The United States of Poetry, a "strand of new poetry began at Chicago's Green Mill Tavern in 1986 when Marc Smith found a home for the Poetry Slam." Since then, performance poetry has spread throughout the United States. Now, the father of the poetry slam presents the most comprehensive book on spoken-word poetry performances.

Stage a Poetry Slam: Creating Performance Poetry Events-Insider Tips, Backstage Advice, and Lots of Examples (A Poetry Speaks Experience)
ISBN: 1402218982

Sourcebooks MediaFusion. 2009

How can I run my own slam?

For groups large and small, from single events to recurring programs, Stage a Poetry Slam explains the easy way to make your slams a success.

Stage a Poetry Slam is a comprehensive guide for both budding and seasoned Slammasters — people in charge of organizing and promoting poetry slams and spoken word events. Marc Kelly Smith, grand founder of the Slam movement and host of the original Uptown Poetry Slam, the one that started them all, takes you back stage to reveal the techniques and strategies he's crafted over his 20 years plus of developing world-class Slam shows. In Stage a Poetry Slam, Marc leads you through the process of shaping your own Slam from vision to opening night, as you discover how to...

  • Fashion a crystal clear vision that drives the development of your first show
  • Plan a detailed itinerary for a Slam extravaganza
  • Scope out a venue that fits your vision
  • Choose the right stage type for maximum impact
  • Deal with the technical stuff — lights, mics, props, & drops
  • Recruit and organize emcees, volunteers, and other support
  • Discover talented performance poets and spoken word artists
  • Publicize and promote your show to attract an eager audience
  • Stage special shows for corporate and community events
  • Take ownership of your show, so it doesn't get hijacked
  • Negotiate fair compensation with club owners and other patrons of the arts

Stage a Poetry Slam is packed with practical, world-tested advice on how to craft a compelling spoken word poetry event and promote in such a way to pack the seats and leave a line out to the streets.

You'll also find a brief history of slam, the rules and regulations that govern official slam competitions, and a list of PSI (Poetry Slam, Inc.) Certified Slams, so you always have a place to visit to pick up ideas and talk shop with other Slammasters!

Marc Kelly Smith—the father of the poetry slam himself—shares his experiences from thousands of shows to get readers started, covering everything, including finding a venue, lighting and sound, managing performers, even getting publicity.

Stage a Poetry Slam is filled with insider tips, backstage advice, and examples that will wake up an audience and keep them coming back. You'll also be able to go online to the community to listen to the samples, meet poets, and discover new inspirations. It's showtime!

The ultimate guide for anyone who wants to run a slam or performance poetry show

Take the Mic: The Art of Performance Poetry, Slam, and the Spoken Word (A Poetry Speaks Experience)
ISBN: 1402218990

Sourcebooks MediaFusion. 2009

Get on Stage and Perfect Your Performance

Have you ever enjoyed a slam or two and thought, "I could do this," but felt apprehensive staring at that empty mic—or worse, you climbed up on stage and struggled?

Let Marc Kelly Smith, the founder of Slam Poetry, teach you everything you need to be a confident performer, from writing a powerful poem, to stage techniques, to going on tour (if that's where your muse leads you).

Take the Mic is filled with insider tips, backstage advice, and tons of examples of slam poems that wake up an audience. With this book, you'll also be able to link to the community to listen to samples, meet poets, and unearth inspirations for your next performance.

The Ultimate Guide to Writing and Performing with Power

Take the Mic is an essential guide for lifting your poetry from the page to the stage. Marc Kelly Smith (So What!), grand founder of the Slam movement, serves as you personal coach, showing you how to craft stage-worthy verse and deliver a poetry performance that shakes the rafters and sparks thunderous applause. In Take the Mic, you discover how to...

  • Pen poetry that's conducive to on-stage performance
  • Overcome stage fright
  • Practice powerful performance techniques
  • Rehearse like a pro
  • Shape a loose collection of poems into a killer set
  • Connect with your audience — heart and soul
  • Master the art of self-promotion
  • Schedule your own slam poetry tour
  • Transform your hobby into paying gigs
  • Act professional to establish a solid reputation in the Slam community

Take the Mic is packed with practical exercises you can do alone or in class to hone your skills and transform your body, mind, voice, verse, and spirit into an engaging stage presence.

You'll also find a brief history of slam, the rules and regulations that govern official slam competitions, and a list of PSI (Poetry Slam, Inc.) Certified Slams, so no matter where you are, you always have a place to Take the Mic!



Speaking Engagements

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