For those of you who don’t already know, Chicago is a poetry town.   It’s home to the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Magazine, Columbia College, which was the first school in the country to offer an undergraduate major in poetry, and Marc Kelly Smith, the father of Slam Poetry.  Off the bat let me explain that Browne & Miller does not represent poetry and that I am not a huge poetry person, but I love Slam Poetry. Love it. One of my favorite Chicago-activities is going to Slam Poetry at the Green Mill on Sunday evenings.  It’s hard to say what I love exactly about Slam Poetry. Maybe it’s because it’s performance-based and I have a background in theater or maybe it’s discovering new voices or maybe it’s because I just love words and love being in the company of other word lovers. Either way I am in awe of the people I see at the Green Mill – theirs is a delicate and intricate art rooted in playing with language in a way that most novelists never get to. But the writing is just half of it. Then they have to get up in front of an audience and perform, as this is the only way to really give their pieces life.  It’s crazy awesome.

The reason I’m telling you all of this is: Slam Poetry was always intended as a subversive, underground art form, but now it’s going the way of reality TV thanks to HBO’s Brave New Voices. According to the network Brave New Voices is “One part Def Poetry Jam and two-parts documentary… that features the finest young spoken word artists in the country.” Pretty cool, right?  I love the fact that HBO will be bringing Slam Poetry to people’s living rooms. Just watching the clips available on HBO’s website made me excited (not to mention moved to tears).  But I might be alone in thinking that reality Slam Poetry TV is a good thing. Will in provide poets with the recognition they deserve? Or will it take the “slam” out of Slam Poetry?  Read this NY Times article and decide. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/books/03slam.html?_r=1

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