Competition Format

All poems in the competition will have a 3 minute time limit. The grace period for Prelims is 10 seconds. The grace period for Finals Stage is 20 seconds.


There will be two hotel venues hosting 2 bouts apiece the first two nights: an early bout from about 6pm to 8pm and a late bout from 8:30pm to 10:30pm. In other words, there will be a total of 4 bouts each of the first two nights, 8 prelim bouts total. The venues will likely be in the host hotel. Up to 11 poets will compete in each bout. There will be two rounds in each bout, with the order in the first round taking place by random draw and the order in the second round determined by first round finish (high score goes first in second round). There will be five (5) judges scoring each poem on a scale of 1 to 10, utilizing one decimal place to give further nuance to the scores. For example, one poem may score a 9 while a slightly better poem may score a 9.1 or 9.2. All five judges will give a score but for prelim purposes the highest score and the lowest score will be dropped. The remaining three scores will be added to give the poet a score for the round. The scores for each of the two rounds will be added together and the highest cumulative score shall be given a ranking of 1, the next highest a ranking of 2, and so on, with the lowest cumulative score awarded a ranking of 11. After 2 nights of prelims, the 12 highest ranked poets (lowest numbers) will advance to the Finals with the 13th highest poet serving as the sacrificial poet to begin finals rounds. Ties for final stage will be broken by comparing the cumulative scores of the poets in question over both days of prelims. If there is still a tie, the dropped judges scores over the two days will be added back in and the resulting new cumulative scores will be compared. If there is still a tie, there will be either an additional poet added to Finals, or a tie break slam held to determine who advances. Poems may not be repeated in any prelim round, including any tie break round.


Finals will be held on Saturday night in the host hotel. Finals will consist of three rounds. Scores are cumulative for the last two rounds only; the second round will begin with a clean slate. Order in the first round will be by random draw. Order in the second and third round will be determined based on the cumulative scores of the poets, from high score to low score. After the first round, the highest 8 scoring poets progress to the second round. After the second round the top 4 scoring poets advance to the final round. Scores are cumulative for the last two rounds. The highest cumulative scoring poets wins. Poems from prelims may be repeated in the Finals. In case of a tie, the poets may decide to be co-champions or they may do another unscored round judged by the panel.


First and foremost, we believe that every person has the right to equitable access and inclusion in any event we host or oversee. Therefore, at every stage of the competition, from selection to finals stage, every individual will be treated with the respect due to them, and every effort will be made to ensure that access and representation are guaranteed to all without bias.

That said, the fundamental rules of slam have been the same for over a quarter of a century, and they break down to four simple guidelines: 

All poems must be the poet’s original work.You may sample another poem or song in your writing or include an epigraph with credit to the original author. No more than 20 seconds of your poem may consist of this sampling and again, it should be credited. 

There are no props allowed. 

There is no musical accompaniment allowed. 

There are no costumes allowed.
All poems throughout the preliminary rounds of the competition will be 3 minutes with a 10 second grace period. Poems longer than 3:10 will be penalized .5 points for every 10 seconds or part of 10 seconds over the time limit. Poems done during Finals will be penalized similarly except the time limit during finals will be 3 minutes with a 20 second grace period.