Marc Smith is best know for bringing to the world wide poetry community a new style of poetic presentation that has spawned one of the most important social/literary arts movements of our time.
In 1985 a construction worker and poet named Marc Smith started a poetry reading series at a Chicago jazz club, the Get Me High Lounge, looking for a way to breathe life into the open mike poetry format. The series’ emphasis on performance laid the groundwork for a style poetry and performance which would eventually be spread across the world. In 1986 Smith approached Dave Jemilo, the owner of the Green Mill (a Chicago jazz club and former haunt of Al Capone), with a plan to host a weekly poetry cabaret on the club’s slow Sunday nights. Jemilo welcomed him, and on July 25, the Uptown Poetry Slam was born. Smith drew on baseball and bridge terminology for the name, and instituted the show’s basic structure of an open mike, guest performers, and a competition. The Green Mill evolved into the Mecca for performance poets, and the Uptown Poetry Slam still continues 18 years after its inception.