So what is a slam poem? Slam poetry is a type of poetry 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 it possible for everyone to participate in slam poetry. Slam Poetry doesn’t need to be a specific form of poetry, either. With that in mind, here are a few common factors you’ll find in slam poems to help you get started.
HOW TO WRITE SLAM POETRY
- Make your poetry slam original. The written piece must be original. The story being performed for competition needs to be your own work.
- Pay attention to 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!).
- Keep it simple and 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.
- Perform with rhythm and passion. 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!). If performance isn't your strong suit, try out some of our tips for reading your poems out loud and get advice on stage fright from other slam poets.
- Practice with Power Poetry. Submit your Slam Poem in a multimedia form to Power Poetry. Watch other slam poems for inspiration, to give/get feedback as you prepare for the stage! You can also compete in any of the open online poetry slams on Power Poetry's site.
If you want to see some slam poetry in action, check out the slam poetry our writers have posted to the site! Find more inspiration for slam poetry from our action guides, your fellow Power Poets, and the famous poets and rappers in our Poetry Genome.