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National Poetry Month: Poetry Slam

Poetry Slam

Slam Sign-up

Get on the wait list! All our time slots for performances are full at this time. Please contact April at to be put on our wait list. Please provide your name, patriot email, and phone number. Time slots are in 10 minute increments to account for poet's performance and judging.

Slam Poetry

What is slam poetry? Here's an example! Perform your original poem exactly how you mean for it to be read, exactly how you interepret it.

Slam Rules

Poems and Performance

  1. Poets will perform a single poem that s/he has created.
  2. Poems can be on any subject and in any style.
  3. No props.
  4. No musical instruments or pre-recorded music.
  5. No costumes. The protest committee may apply a two point deduction for violation of the costume rule.


It is acceptable for a poet to incorporate, imitate, or otherwise "signify on" the words, lyrics, or tune of someone else (commonly called "sampling") in his own work. If he is only riffing off another's words, he should expect only healthy controversy; if on the other hand, he is ripping off their words, he should expect disqualification.


The Five-Minute Rule.

No performance should last longer than five minutes. The time begins when the performance begins, which may well be before the first utterance is made. A poet is certainly allowed several full seconds to adjust the microphone and get settled & ready, but as soon as s/he makes a connection with the audience ("Hey look, she's been standing there for 10 seconds and hasn't even moved"), the timekeeper can start the clock. The poet does not have an unlimited amount of "mime time." Poets with ambiguous beginnings and endings to their performances should seek out the timekeeper at each venue to settle on a starting & ending time. After five minutes, there is a 10-second grace period (up to and including 5:10:00). Starting at 5:10:01, a penalty is automatically deducted from each poet's overall score according to the following schedule:

5:10 and under no penalty
5:10:001 - 5:20 -0.5
5:20:001 - 5:30 -1.0
5:30:001 - 5:40 -1.5
5:40:001 - 5:50 -2.0
and so on [-0.5 for every 10 seconds over 5:10]

(An additional 10 seconds is permitted in the finals without penalty.)

The announcement of the time penalty and its consequent deduction will be made by the emcee or scorekeeper after all the judges have reported their scores. The judges should not even be told that a poet went overtime until it is too late for them to adjust their scores.

Maximum Time Limit.

After six minutes, only the emcee must stop a poet from continuing to perform.

Influencing the crowd before the bout begins.

Poets are allowed to talk casually with anyone in the crowd before the bout begins (except the judges, if they have already been chosen). They are not, however, allowed to give anything to the audience or have anyone do this for them. Furthermore, inside the venue (in the presence or within earshot of the audience) they must not act in any way that would make more of an impression than another competitor waiting for the competition to begin. Poets who violate this rule will be given one warning by the emcee, bout manager, or house manager. Further violation will result in a two-point penalty for that poet’s score.



All efforts shall be made to select three judges who will be fair. Once chosen, the judges will: 1) be given a set of printed instructions on how to judge a poetry slam, 2) have a private, verbal crash course by the emcee or bout manager on the do's and don'ts of poetry slam judging (where they can ask questions), and 3) hear the standardized Official Emcee announcement, which, among other things, will apprise the audience of their own responsibilities as well as remind the judges of theirs. Having heard, read, or otherwise experienced these three sets of 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 or bout manager BEFORE the bout begins. Having heard and understood the complaint, the bout manager or emcee will then make a decision (also privately) that cannot be further challenged.



The judges will give each performance a score from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest or "perfect" score. They will be encouraged to use one decimal place in order to preclude the likelihood of a tie. Each performance will get three scores. Team scores will be displayed or otherwise publicly available during the bout.


Breaking Ties.

In the event of a tie, poets will re-perform their piece and the audience will be asked to judge.