LitCity312 Review: Uptown Poetry Slam!

Location + Time:

On January 26th 2013, I attended the Uptown Poetry Slam at the famous Green Mill Cocktail Club. Every Sunday from 7-10, Marc Smith and Company hold an open mic including a featured artist and a slam competition. 

Atmosphere + Feel:

The venue feels straight out of the 1930s. Half-crescent booths and white cloth tables are scattered through the floor. As I walked in the brute bouncer asked for my I.D. and seven dollars. After paying, I rushed to find a seat, seeing that the place was filling up quick. Other than the fifteen or so table booths, the venue had a large bar for you to grab a quick cocktail. I got to Green Mill quarter to seven and the only seats available were at the bar, so get there early if you want to grab a booth. The place itself is pretty large with a stage at the end with two mics and a band. The band played smooth jazz throughout the night. The lighting was low so it was hard to get a look at most of the audience, but generally it was people in their 20s and 30s. It wouldn’t be the best place to bring your kids especially because of the vulgarity on stage. Green Mill doesn’t serve food but feel free to bring your food, they welcome it! As a whole the atmosphere was really relaxed and it’s definitely a place to bring a larger group. 

Performers + Quality

The event started right at 7:00pm exactly. The eccentric, but famous Chicago Slam Poet Founder Marc Smith ran onto stage. From the start you could tell this was a very audience-involved event. People would yell at Marc and he would yell back. They had chants and phrases only true regulars would know, but it doesn’t feel too intimidating for first timers. The event started out with newcomers getting a chance to read their poems. Poets got to decide if they wanted the jazz band to play behind them while they perform. Cliché as it sounds, it really did make the poetry sound more artsy. The one unique part of this open mic is that the audience has a say if the poet can keep on reading. If the audience starts snapping they want the poet to stop. If the audience starts stomping, they want more. The quality of the beginners was hit and miss but in general it was fun to just be a the part of the audience. After a short intermission, the featured poet, Joel Chmara, performed his slam poetry. He was the hit of the night with strange but hilarious poems such as “You Are What You Drink.” After Joel was a slam completion. Each participant had three minutes to recite their poetry and each poet would get a score from the audience, one to ten. The event as a whole was hysterical. As an audience member, you felt as if you were on the stage and you get a wide variety of very good slam poets. I recommend this place to anybody that wants to see the birthplace of slam and get a taste what the city offers!

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Jacob Nedza

Jacob Nedza is a Junior at DePaul University. He is studying Secondary Education with a concentration in English. He was born and raised in Chicago, IL. Although aspiring to be a teacher, in his free time Jacob enjoys writing and reading. He loves to listen music and has a pretty fruitful music collection. Currently, Jacob lives in a cozy North side apartment where he is writing a short collection of crime stories.

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