Slam poetry is poetry that is meant to be performed. It’s usually shorter than traditional, page poetry because most slams only allow the poet 3 minutes to recite their work. But within those 3 minutes is the power to move an audience to its feet – tears, clogged throats, and lots of enthusiastic finger-snapping. The same goes for the slam poetry at the Jersey City Poetry Slam.

Walk into the Tea NJ cafe in Jersey City, and twice a month you’ll find the small cafe packed with slam poets and poetry enthusiasts. This is a boisterous bunch. They’re loud, vocal, and full of passion. Most nights you’ll find Mark Skrypczak, a tall, quiet figure, seated at a table against the wall tallying up the scores for each poet.

Mark’s been running the Jersey City Poetry Slam for almost six years. And since then, the JC Slam has evolved from a twice-monthly event with hardly anyone showing up, to a nationally-known group that packs the Tea NJ cafe every other Thursday night, sending its slam poets to national competitions around the country.

I caught up with Mark at the end of the last poetry slam. The cafe was closing – they stay open late twice a month for the JC Slam – so we went outside and found a bench and spent an hour talking about slam poetry. Continue reading “Jersey City Poetry Slam’s Mark Skrypczak Talks About Coaching and Running the JC Slam”