5 Tips for Slam Poetry

Slam Poetry is a type of competition where people read their poems without props, costumes, or music. After performing, they receive scores (0-10) from 5 randomly selected judges. The judges can be anyone: they don’t even need to be poets! Scores are awarded based on how much each judge likes a poem. The purpose of this judging process is to make poetry participatory for everyone. Slam Poetry doesn’t need to be a specific form of poetry. With that in mind, here are some common factors you’ll find in slam poems. If you want to see some slam poetry in action, check out the slam poetry our writers have posted to the site.

  1. Make it original. The written piece must be original. The story being performed for competition needs to be your own work.
  2. Time. Each poet has 3 minutes to perform. While practicing your poem, time yourself to make sure you do not go over the time limit. (Poets lose points for going over 10 or more seconds!)
  3. Simple & Relatable. Your poem should be able to reach your audience the first time it’s heard. Read and perform it for family & friends before competing. Ask them what is clear and what is not. Choose themes and subjects that many people can relate to, like relationships, politics, religion, insecurity, family-social issues, etc. Your poem should be clear and convey a message.
  4. Rhythmic & Passionate. Your poem should have a rhythm that shows through your passionate performance. A slam poem moves the audience through different moods. How the poem is performed is at least as important as the content if not more! (No pressure.)
  5. Power Poetry. Submit your Slam Poem in a multimedia form to Power Poetry. Watch other slam poems for inspiration, to give/get feedback and to start competing in your own Poetry Slam!

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