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Our Poetry Slam

Context & Rules

So here’s the deal. A poetry slam is a competition in which poets share their work in front of an audience and are scored on a scale of 0 to 10 by a panel of judges from an array of backgrounds.  The point of a poetry slam is to defy mediums and platforms that are traditionally given to poets in an effort to create an interactive experience for both the poets and the audience.

  • Anyone is eligible to sign-up for a poetry slam at The Root Slam.  Each qualifying poetry slam is 2 rounds.


  • The 1st round consists of a maximum of 8 poets selected by random draw. The 2nd round consists of the 4 top scoring poets from the 1st round.


  • Poets will perform their original work with no props, or musical accompaniment other than their voice.  After each poem, five judges, who have no prior affiliation with the poets, will score each piece on their interpretation of poem quality and performance.  Judges will use a scale of 0.0 to 10.0. The low and the high score will be dropped, therefore, the maximum amount of points a poem can receive is 30.


  • Each poet will be given three minutes, with a 10 second grace period to perform their piece.  For every 10 seconds they go over time, they will be deducted 0.5 points from their overall score. Poets will be asked to end their poem, out of respect for the competition, at five minutes.


  • As mentioned prior, the order is determined by random draw in the first round.  The second round order will be determined by high to low scores from the previous round.    


  • If poets tie for 1st place, we ask each participant to have a 3rd poem.  Poets will draw for the order of the tiebreaker round, and will be scored + judged similarly to previous rounds.  If there is a tie, again-- we will ask the judges to determine the winner without scores (i.e., write Poet A, or Poet B on white board).  


What do you win? A $20 gift card to Marcus Books, a meal at MLK Cafe, and $20 cash.

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