Before a few years ago, I was not much aware of the phenomenon called “Slam Poetry,” that has gotten so many young people interested in a form of art that, from my perspective, had lagged a bit in popularity from earlier times.
A man named Marc Smith and the City of Chicago are given credit for the birth of slam poetry. The inaugural “Uptown Poetry Slam” was held on July 25, 1986 at a Chicago jazz club called “The Green Mill,” a former favorite haunt of Al Capone. According to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Slam Poetry, the innovators of this raw new art form “gyrated, rotated, spewed, and stepped their words along the bar top, dancing between the bottles, bellowing out the backdoor, standing on the street or on their stools, turning the west side of Chicago into a rainforest of dripping whispers or a blast furnace of fiery elongated syllables, phrases, snatches of scripts, and verse that electrified the night.”*
This brings me to Quentin “IQ the Great” Campbell, who I’ve come to know through my work at RCTV. Over the past two years, I’ve noticed how his interest in this art form has transformed him from a quiet and shy young man into someone from whom a light of confidence shines, which he talks about in this episode. His excitement at making the team to go to the 18th Annual Brave New Voices International Slam Poetry Festival in Atlanta this year was almost palpable. Although his team did not make the finals – newbies rarely do, and all of the team members were new to the circuit – the experience was an exciting, exhilarating and rewarding experience, reaffirming his interest in pursuing a career as an entertainer.
Below, I share both an excerpt of his poem “Crush” that he created for a special young lady, and my full interview with the talented Quentin “IQ the Great” Campbell.
* For more information on the history of Slam Poetry, visit Slampapi.com