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Slam Rules


For Poets

Let’s create a friendly and safe environment by practicing tolerance and respect. We embrace the voices of all people from all races, colors, genders, sexual orientations, lifestyles, classes, national origins, religions, ethnicities, ages, and abilities. We exist to give voice to every poem, every passion, and every pressing issue that needs a place to be spoken. We encourage spirited free speech, but we do not tolerate hate speech. 

One original poem, up to three minutes, per round. This is not an open mic.  Original poetry only.

One point deduction from cumulative score for going over three minutes. There is a ten second grace period. The timer starts when the poet begins speaking onstage.

No props or musical instruments. 

Contestants are judged on the quality of the performance, quality of the writing, and the content of the work. 

Five judges scoring lowest to highest 0 – 10, using olympic style scoring 8.5, 9.1, 7.7 etc.

Highest and lowest score eliminated from each round.

After all poets have performed, top scoring three to five poets will perform again, reading a new poem or the same one they read previously.

If the audience cannot see or hear the poet, the emcee reserves the right to intervene, and the poem may receive lower scores.  Poets please check the mic and camera on your computer before the event, and confirm that your internet connection is stable. You can check these things in the zoom interface by logging on early.

Judging & Scoring

Each poem will receive a score of one through ten, and poems may receive lower scores if the audience cannot see or hear the performance because of tech issues for the performer, like bad lighting or sound. The scorekeeper tallies, and the highest and lowest scores are dropped. The top three poets return to the "stage" for the final round to compete for bragging rights and cash prizes. 

All efforts will be made to select five judges who will be fair.  Judges score on the quality of the writing, the quality of the performance, and the content of the work, and do their best to be consistent. 

The judges will: 1) be given a set of printed instructions on how to judge a poetry slam, 2) have an opportunity to ask questions of the organizers, and 3) hear the standardized emcee spiel at the beginning of the event, which, among other things, will apprise the audience of their own responsibilities as well as remind the judges of theirs.

Having heard  and read these instructions, a judge cannot be challenged over a score. Complaints, problems, and/or disagreements regarding the impartiality of the judges should be brought privately to the attention of the emcee before or after the slam.