Marc Kelly's Open Road


    Crazy Babbling Sunshine


    Chicago, IL

  • ON DVD:


Poetry Slam Movement

“You feel that destiny, and you don't know what it's all about, but believe in that destiny.”




Confidence Inspiration Passion Conflict Family Self-Reflection Values Opportunity Success Community Pride Beliefs & Faith


Being Creative


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Writing, for Marc Kelly Smith, was a vehicle to express himself and manifest his stir-crazy mind into tangible words. At the age of 19, Marc knew he wanted to be a famous poet, but he didn't want to do it like the "9 to 5 man." After getting married at a young age and moving down to South Carolina during the Civil Rights Movement, Marc began trying his hand at publishing his poetry while his wife worked a regular job. But it was a battle, and Marc incurred hundreds of rejections slips. The overwhelming rejection made Marc think twice: Perhaps he should just go back to a regular job and have a regular family, living the "straight" life. Moving to Chicago, Ill., Marc started a 9 to 5 job as a construction worker, but he hated it. Slowly, he started going back to local poetry readings where he would watch others get up on stage and read. Marc started to realize how lifeless the poetry readings were, and thought about how he could bring his poetry to life on stage through performance. He then formed a Chicago poetry ensemble and in 1986 he approached the owner of the Green Mill, a famous Chicago jazz club, with a plan to host a weekly poetry cabaret on Sunday nights. The owner welcomed the idea, and Uptown Poetry Slam was born. Since then, the Uptown Poetry Slam has become a mecca for performance poets.

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