War of the Words! Poetry Slam

Poetry Slam!



Three Rounds, Three Poems. One Winner.

No readings. No Covers. Original Poetry Only!


Wed. Oct 26, 2011

at the Commonplace Coffee House

(1176 Grant St. Indiana, PA)

The battle begins at 7:30pm!

Ages 18 and older are welcomed to attend and/or participate.

First Prize is $30 in gift cards to the winner and $10 to the runner up.

Download our posters to print:


POETS: click here for Registration info

Before you register below, first read these rules and format for the event.


1. REMEMBER: The points are not the point; the poetry is the point.

2. Poems must be the original creations of the poets reading them.

3. Each participant should come prepared to present three poems of no greater than three minutes in length.

4. No props or costumes. Anything that a poet would bring or wear to attempt to enhance the impact of their poetry will actually detract from the impact of the words rather than enhance them.

5. No musical instruments of prerecorded music.

6. While it is acceptable to pay homage to the great poets and songwriters of our culture (or other cultures for that matter), there is a fine line between paying respect and plagiarizing. “Sampling” is acceptable, but if a participant rips off someone else’s work, they will be judged accordingly.

7. The Three-Minute Rule: No performance should last longer than three minutes. The time begins when the performance begins, which may well be before the first utterance is made. A poet is certainly allowed several full seconds to adjust the microphone and get settled & ready, but as soon as s/he makes a connection with the audience (“Hey look, she’s been standing there for 10 seconds and hasn’t even moved”), the timekeeper can start the clock. The poet does not have an unlimited amount of “mime time.” Poets with ambiguous beginnings & endings to their performances should seek out the timekeeper at each venue to settle on a starting & ending time. After three minutes, there is a 10-second grace period (up to and including 3:10.00). Starting at 3:10.01, a penalty is automatically deducted from each poet’s overall score according to the following schedule:

3:10 and under no penalty

3:10.01 – 3:20 -0.5

3:20.01 – 3:30 -1.0

3:30.01 – 3:40 -1.5

3:40.01 – 3:50 -2.0

and so on [-0.5 for every 10 seconds over 3:10]

The announcement of the time penalty and its consequent deduction will be made by the emcee or scorekeeper after all the judges have reported their scores. The judges should not even be told that a poet went overtime until it is too late for them to adjust their scores.

Maximum Time Limit: After four minutes, only the emcee may stop a poet from continuing to perform.

8. Every effort will be made to select judges who will be fair. They will judge each poem with an Olympic style 0 to 10, with 10 being a “perfect” score. They will weigh their scores with 50% towards performance and 50% towards the construction of the poem. Using one decimal place is encouraged to hopefully lessen the possibility of a tie. The high and low score from each poem are eliminated, leaving a possible score out of 30. In the unlikely event of a tie, the lowest score will be included only on the two tied participants. If that does not break the tie, then the highest score is included.

9. Since no one likes to go first, a Sacrificial Poet will be provided to warm up the crowd and allow the judges the opportunity to practice scoring. The Sacrificial Poet will read one of their poems.

10. At this time, no poetry teams are allowed to participate, only individuals.


Poetry Slams are an interactive format. The crowd is encouraged to respond to the poet in a manner appropriate to their feelings. If a poet’s work is appreciated, they will be shown that appreciation. If a poet’s work is not appreciated, there is a chance that they will be booed off the stage. If you do not feel that you can handle potentially harsh criticism, please attend the event, but do not register to compete at this time. In other words, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”

Any poet wishing to participate in the Poetry Slam must arrive at the venue no less than a half hour before the event is scheduled to start. This includes preregistered poets as well as those wishing to register at the time of the event.

The Slam will consist of three rounds. Each round requires that a new piece of poetry be performed.

Round One: Up to 15 poets may compete. Up to ten poets can preregister, and those slots will be filled on a first come, first served basis. The other five slots are filled by poets who register at the event. If more than five poets register at the event, names will be randomly selected to fill the final five slots. From the remaining poets, the Sacrificial Poet will be selected.

Round Two: The top 6 highest-scoring poets from Round One perform their second original piece.

Round Three: The top 2 highest-scoring poets from Round Two go head-to-head in a winner takes all showdown.

 Poet Registration


Print a copy of the Rules and Format

BROUGHT TO YOU BY:Indiana Arts Council

Published by fritzy

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