Vic Slam

Victoria Poetry Slam Rules

These rules apply as of the 2015-16 Vic Slam season. Discrepancies can be brought to the attention of the Slam Coordinator for clarification.

  • Poems can be on any subject and in any style.
  • Each poet must perform original work that they have created.
  • ALL 12 spots will be random draw if more than 12 poets sign up.
  • The second round will consist of the top 5 poets from the first round, in order from highest 1st-round score to lowest (after time penalties have been deducted.)
  • Sampling: It is acceptable for a poet to incorporate, imitate, or otherwise “signify” on the words, lyrics, or tune of someone else (commonly called “sampling”) in their own work. If they are only riffing off another’s words, they should expect only healthy controversy; if on the other hand, they are ripping off another’s words, they should expect scorn and ridicule.
  • Team Pieces: No team pieces are allowed at regular season slams, semi-finals, or finals.
  • No props. Prop: an object or article of clothing introduced into a performance with the effect of enhancing, illustrating, underscoring, or otherwise augmenting the words of the poem. Generally, poets are allowed to use their given environment and the accoutrements it offers – microphones, mic stands, the stage itself, chairs on stage, a table or bar top, the aisle, and audience members – as long as these accoutrements are available to all other competitors as well. The rule concerning props is not intended to squelch the spontaneity, unpredictability, or on-the-fly choreography that people love about the slam; its intent is to keep the focus on the words rather than objects.
  • No musical instruments or pre-recorded music.
  • No costumes.
  • Repeats: Poets may not repeat poems performed during the Vic Slam season at other regular Vic Slams during the same season. Poems are exempt from this rule during Semi-Finals, and Finals, but only once per poem. As of the 2012-2013 season, any pieces performed at a Vic Slam Semi-Final, and Final may not be performed at any future Vic Slam Semi-Final, or Final.
  • 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 and ready, but as soon as they make a connection with the audience (“Hey look, they’ve been standing there for 10 seconds and they haven’t even moved”), the timekeeper can start the clock. The poet does not have an unlimited amount of “mime time.” Poets with ambiguous beginnings and endings to their performances should seek out the timekeeper to settle on a starting and 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 will be made by the host or scorekeeper after all the judges have reported their scores. The judges should not even be told that a poet went over time until it is too late for them to adjust their scores.
  • Maximum Time Limit: After four minutes, only the host may stop a poet from continuing to perform.
  • Judging: All efforts shall be made to select five judges who will be fair. Once chosen, the judges will have a private, verbal crash course by the host or house manager on the do’s and don’ts of poetry slam judging (where they can ask questions).
  • Scoring: The judges will give each poem a score from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest or “perfect” score. They will be encouraged to use one decimal place in order to preclude the likelihood of a tie. Each poem will get five scores. The high and the low scores will be dropped and the remaining three scores will be added together.
  • Host: The host will announce to the audience each poet’s name. They will also require that all judges hold their scores up at the same time and that no judge changes their score after it is up. They are expected to move the show along quickly and keep the audience engaged and interested in the competition. Since they must be completely impartial, any witty banter directed at individual poets, poems, teams, or scores is inappropriate. Even genuine enthusiasm has to be carefully directed. The safest thing to do is encourage the audience to express their own opinions.
  • Sacrificial Poet: Because no poet wants to go first in the slam, and because some judges, scorekeepers, and timekeepers need practice, each slam begins with a “sacrificial poet” or calibration poet. This poet performs a piece and is scored as if they were competing in the slam.
  • Qualifying for the Slam Team: The top 16 poets from the regular season shows (Sept-April) are invited to the Semi-Finals and Finals in May to compete to be on the Victoria Slam Team.
  • Poets in the second round are given the following points for their standings:
    • 1st – 5 points
    • 2nd – 4 points
    • 3rd – 3 point
    • 4th – 2 points
    • 5th – 1 point
  • Points are added together at the end of the season and the 16 poets with the highest scores are invited to Semi-Finals. If there are not enough poets with scores to fill the spots at Semi-Finals the remaining poets will be determined by averaged cumulative score.
  • Semi-Finals: Semi-Finals will consist of the top 16 poets from the regular season, based off of the current season’s point earnings. Semi-Finals will be two rounds of competition, and ALL 16 POETS compete in BOTH rounds. Scores are cumulative between rounds at semi-finals. The top 8 Poets move on to compete at Vic Slam Finals.
  • Finals: Finals will consist of the top 8 poets from Semi-Finals. Scores between Semi-Finals and Finals will NOT be cumulative. ALL 8 POETS will compete in BOTH rounds. After the two rounds are completed, the top 5 poets shall be decided. 1st-5th rankings earn poets a spot on the slam team. 1st place determines Grand Slam Champion