This now regular event was created a few years ago, and the national champions of performance poetry will arrive from all over Europe to battle against each other.
The organiser, the Slam Poetry Hungary Association, expects to see more than 20 national slam poetry champions from across Europe between 26 November and 1 December 2018, culminating with the finals of the tournament held at Trafó on 30 November. The Guest of Honour will be none other than the founding father of the genre, Marc Kelly Smith, an American poet from Chicago, along with his spoken word team, Chicago’s Speak Easy Ensemble 2018.
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On Sunday evening at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in Chicago’s gritty Uptown neighborhood, an animated man steps up to the stage and proclaims, “This is the slam. And I’m the guy who started it. My name is Marc Smith.” To whom the audience shouts back, “So what!” And so begins another edition of the Uptown Poetry Slam. Marc Kelly Smith is the founder of the poetry slam movement, a competition of performance poets who recite their original work to a live audience. He recalls: “I was being interviewed by some reporter and asked what these [poetry event] things were called. I had just been watching a baseball game, and I was thinking … slam, grand slam … poetry slam!” “Slam Papi” Smith spent his young life as a construction worker and began writing verse at age 19. He conceived the slam in 1984 at Chicago’s Get Me High Lounge, and in 1986, he moved it to its current home at the legendary Green Mill. It is the longest running show in the city. Thanks to Smith, poetry slams and performance poetry have spread around the globe. Poets have found an outlet for their unique voice, while audiences have been moved by the raw emotion of the spoken word. Smith levitates his mic during the weekly poetry slam at the Green Mill. #theuplifted
They will hold a 3-day workshop with poets from the Visegrád 4 countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary), along with young slam poets representing Serbia, Macedonia and Ukraine. Other VIP guests of the championship include poet, professor and “Slam Master” Bob Holman from New York, whose previous appearance on the Hungarian slam stages was a huge success, as well as the US champion of the 2018 Women of the World Poetry Slam festival, Mwende “FreeQuency” Katwiwa from Kenya.
The American-European collaboration will present a separate workshop entitled “Bridging Barriers” also at Trafó, on 29 November. The presentation will be accompanied by workshops, debates and public discussions, thereby offering a great opportunity to gain some insight into the origins of the genre, its current status overseas and in Europe, as well as its jointly-shaped future. The organisers aim to showcase a week-long international slam poetry festival, highlighting the artistic nature and movement of the genre.