Slam Poetry Too Mainstream: Founder

Once subversive art form now embraced nationwide
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2009 12:39 PM CDT
Chuck Perkins performs slam poetry at Green Mill Sundays.   (MySpace)
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(Newser) – Slam poetry has ballooned from a grassroots movement to a national phenomenon—and its founder isn’t happy about it. “People just want to write what the last guy wrote so they can get their face on TV,” Marc Kelly Smith, who started the genre in Chicago 25 years ago, tells the New York Times. “This show wasn’t started to crank out that kind of thing.”

Slam poetry has been gaining popularity in recent years—the Obamas even brought it to the White House. “I think that perhaps Marc sees this as snowballing out of control,” says one poet. “This is something that started as a group of oddballs who wanted to do some pretty avant-garde things, but over the years, it has gotten more and more homogeneous and started catering to a demographic mainstream.”