Poetry Slam Rules

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What is a poetry slam?

Think of a slam as a live poetry competition. Like an open mic, people read out their work to an audience. However, in a slam, there is a competitive element – invited judges (usually poets themselves) score readers on how well a poem is written and delivered, with the top scorers going through to the next round.

Based on the number of participants, there are usually three rounds: the first round is open to all. However, in the second round, eight people get through (the top eight scorers as determined by the judges), and four through to the third and final round. Each read again to determine who will be Slam Champion!

How do I enter?

Our slams are open to all poets of all style, with new readers always welcome. You don’t have to be experienced or published, just willing to share your work in front of a virtual audience.

Entering Online

To enter for our 2021 Virtual Poetry Slam, just sign-up online. Names will be drawn at random, with each poet invited to read during our Zoom session. Available slots are limited to 20 due to time constraints, so it will be first come, first served. You are welcome to listen in even it you don’t get a slot this time!


  • All poems must be the sole work of the poet reading them (if for reasons of disability, you are unable to read and wish to nominate a reader on your behalf, just let us know).
  • The time limit for each poem is three minutes – if you go over, you are disqualified, so watch the clock!
  • One poem only per round.
  • No props, costumes or musical accompaniment that may be considered as enhanced your delivery – this is all about reading aloud.
  • For any poet with a disability who may be unable to read for themselves, you can nominate a friend to register and read on your behalf. Just let us know who the original author is, and who is your chosen reader.

Do I need to have memorized my poem(s)?

No! We don’t ask people to memorize their poems, so it’s okay to read from the sheet / notebook / iPad, etc. There are lots of reasons why people might struggle with memorizing a poem (mental health issue, acquired brain injuries, side effects of medication, stress, anxiety, etc), so we feel it’s not in the spirit of inclusivity to ask anyone to remember their poems.

Poetry Slams are great fun so don’t get upset if you don’t make it to the next round.  It is cool to just enjoy the great poetry! Best of luck to everyone!