Slam Czar to Visit Lexington! $2000 in Prizes!

Slam Czar to Visit Lexington! $2000 in Prizes!

Poetry and spoken word lovers, hold onto your hats. Next Wednesday, as part of the Alltech Fortnight Festival ( Lexington will be visited by a legend. Marc Kelly Smith ( will be hosting the first free-for-all poetry slam in Lexington in years! The prizes? $1000 for the elimination round slam and another cool $1000 for the Equestrian round. Also, John Condron and the Benefit are slated to play as well as “surprise guests!” This is a recipe for a really, really good night out!

If you enjoyed the Gypsy Slam that the Women Writers Conference hosts every year, then you’ll love this! Poets are crawling out of the woodworks to take a crack at that prize money. If you go:

September 30, 2009 7:30 PM
Downtown Arts Center (Black Box Theatre)
141 East Main Street
Lexington , Kentucky 40507
$15 general admission
$10 students

I had a chance to ask the organizer, Mark Eleveld, a few questions:

BLS: Can you give us a little background information about yourself? How you got involved in organizing poetry slams?

ME: —Met Marc Smith in 1991, in a class he taught on performance poetry. We hit it off, I became his PR person and we started booking collge shows for performance poetry. I’ve since become an English teacher and always turn back to my performance poetry roots to turn the class onto poetry. Started a small publishing company, EM Press, in 2000, and put together the two best-selling poetry anthologies on spoken word, The Spoken Word Revolution and SPoken Word Revolution Redux. Most recently, I organized the Poetry Jam at the White House for the preseident and first lady, both who introduced and attended the show. I produce, with EM Press ( ‘Slam the Radio’, a weekly radio show on XM Sirius, The Book Channel.

BLS: Lexington’s a long way from Chicago’s slam scene in more than one way.  How did you and Marc Smith get involved with Alltech’s Fortnight Festival?
ME:—One of the promotors of the Alltech Fortnight Festival is drummer Barret Harvery; his band John Condron and the Benefit work closely with poets in the Chicago/East Coast scene. He called upon me to work on this event because we’ve worked similar, successful events in the past.

BLS: What should Lexingtonians who have never been to a slam be prepared for?
ME:  —Marc Smith started the poetry slam. He is the founder and has hosted the poetry slam show for over 23 yeas. He is a good poet and one of the best performers you’ll ever see. Likewise, his show tends to be more unruly, he interacts with audience ad nauseum … Marc is more interested in the audience than the poets. If the audience isn’t happy, we’ve failed. Because of that, the judging is much looser, the jokes schtick is much longer, the moment, the evneing is more geniuine. Poetry is part of the equation, not the whole, for this show.

BLS: If people have heard anything about spoken word, they are probably familiar with your anthology, The Spoken Word Revolution: Slam, Hip-Hop, and the Poetry of a New Generation. Can you talk a little bit about the need for a book like this?
ME: —-The Spoken Word Revolution was created because a larger audience of non-pots were continually asking for work by the contemporary slam scene. This book has poems from slammers, essays from academics, a ‘show’ CD that is narrated by Marc Smith. It looks like a text book and has been used at over 25 universities.

See you there folks!