“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, and individuals currently identifying with neither a gender nor an age group: what you are about to witness is known as a poetry slam! Poetry slam is the art of competitive performance poetry, invented in the 1980s by a Chicago construction worker named Marc Smith (SO WHAT!). Poets will pour their hearts and souls out here on the stage and be judged from 0.0 to 10.0 by people randomly selected from the audience… The prize for winning the poetry slam is $10 or eternal glory, whichever comes before next Wednesday.” –from the MC spiel at the Boston Poetry Slam @ the Cantab Lounge
The Boston Poetry Slam was founded in 1991 by Michael Brown and Patricia Smith. Michael and Patricia imported the poetry slam directly from its birthplace, the Green Mill in Chicago. In 2004, Simone Beaubien became the sole SlamMaster of the venue.
The core Boston Poetry Slam show runs at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, Mass. every Wednesday night, giving local poets a chance to share their work in the open mic or slam and featuring a headlining poet or theme slam.
A second weekly show, New and Improved, was founded in 2012. This experimental show runs at Radio in Somerville, Mass. every Monday night and features an open writing or performance workshop, an open mic, and a double-headliner bill pairing a poet with a performance artist from another genre.
Additionally, the Boston Poetry Slam frequently produces outside shows at other coffeehouses, bars, theaters, and schools across New England. The organization hosted the National Poetry Slam in 1992 and again in 2011.
The show and its community are curated entirely by unpaid volunteers. The Boston Poetry Slam is a certified member of Poetry Slam, Inc., the 501(c)3 organization that operates as the governing body of poetry slam.