The Rules

As of May 2018, Spokane Poetry Slam will host both slams in a traditional two round format with 5 audience judges.


  1. Each poet must present his or her own original work.  No covers, no recitations of movie monologs, no dramatic readings of Aerosmith songs.  Quoting and appropriation are acceptable, but outright plagiarism will not be tolerated.
  2. Each poet has three minutes to perform one poem per round.
  3. Poets are not allowed to use costumes, props, or musical accompaniment in the performance of their poems.
  4. Five judges chosen at random will score each poem on a scale of zero point zero (0.0) to ten (10).  The high and low scores will be ignored, and the middle three scores will be added to give the poet his or her final score for that round.  The scores of each round will be added together for each poet, and the poet with the highest score at the end of the competition is the winner.
  5. Poets presenting world premiere poems in the first round will earn one extra point.  A world premiere poems is defined as a poem that has not been publicly presented or published.  This includes poems posted on the Internet, poems published in chapbooks, journals, or books, and poems presented onstage at other slams or open mics.  This does not include poems presented in workshops.  Poems presented in workshops will be allowed to earn the “world premiere poem extra point,” provided they have not been presented in any forum outside the workshop.
  6. There will be no less than two rounds per competition.  Depending on the number of poets and the size of the audience, the host may choose to have more than two rounds.


  1. If a poet violates the time limit, he or she will have .5 points deducted from their final score for that round for every ten seconds over 3 minutes.  For example, if the poem is 3:15, the poet will have .5 taken off of his or her final score for the round.  If the poem is 3:40, the poet will have 2 points removed from the final score.  There is no penalty for a poem lasting less than three minutes.
  2. If the poet breaks the costume, prop, or music rule, and the violation is ruled to be incidental (not premeditated) the poet will be given a score that is two points lower than the lowest cumulative score of any poet in that round.
  3. If the poet performs something other than his or her own work, or breaks the costume, prop, or music rule in a premeditated fashion, the poet will be disqualified from the competition.

All other rules and penalties will be kept in accordance with Poetry Slam Inc. (the recognized national organizing body for slam poetry) guidelines.

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