Chicago Slam Works (CSW), a 501c-3 organization, was founded in 2009 by Marc Kelly Smith, inventor of the poetry slam, and a small group of long-time organizers. Together, they committed to elevating slam poetry to the next level and broadening the experience for students and audiences.
One of the first large-scale productions was the 25th Anniversary Show to celebrate the first poetry slam. The event was held at the Metro Theater in Chicago and garnered a full house. Since then, CSW has produced numerous slam poetry events and expanded its educational endeavors. The organization increased its board and continues to attract audiences as well as opportunities to demonstrate the enriching qualities of slam poetry in classrooms.
Rooted in Slam Poetry — a Marriage of Poetry and Performance
Poetry Slam has become synonymous with performance poetry competition, which was invented by Chicagoan Marc Kelly Smith in 1986. The lively cabaret-style poetry show been held at Chicago’s Green Mill Tavern Since the first poetry slams, the show’s popularity has increased exponentially. Slam competitions spread across the world—from Germany to Japan, Singapore to San Francisco. The competitive atmosphere inspires audiences to listen and makes literary events a whole lot more entertaining.
Poetry slams challenge traditional institutions to redefine poetry, launched new careers in the literary arts, inspired poets outside of academia to join MFA programs, and become one of the most successful tools for teaching and engaging elementary and high schools students in reading and writing poetry. In doing so, the poetry slam established its own place in the literary landscape.