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Poetry Slam Information

What you need to know to compete in the Poetry Slam

What You Need to Know About Performing in the Slam Poetry Competition

Information for Poets about the Slam Poetry Competition at MVPL

Where: March 10th, 2017, 7:00 PM at the Mill Valley Public Library (poets must arrive no later than 6:00 PM). We’ll feed you a pizza dinner and you can use the hour to eat and prepare.

Click here to register.

Slam Format/Scoring: We have room for 12 poets/contestants. Each poet will perform in the first round. After each poet performs, the judges will give him/her a score.

Poems can be up to three minutes long using: no props, no costumes, no musical accompaniment. At 3:10:01 poets start losing .5 of a point for every 10 seconds they go over after 3:10.

The three poets with the highest scores will move on to the championship round. The poet who receives the highest score in the championship round will be crowned the winner.

Each contestant should have at least two pieces of original work (less than three minutes each) ready to perform. Poems can be on any subject. Note cards may be used sparingly, but try to memorize your work. Your performance will be better for it!


  • First Prize: $100 Book Passage Gift Certificate
  • Second Prize (First Runner-up): Sol Food Gift Certificate
  • Third Prize (Second Runner-up): Equator Coffee Gift Certificate

Register to compete in the Competition here

Registration to attend (not compete in) the Competition: open to high school students and adults. Registration is highly recommended. Click here to sign up. Registration tends to fill up quickly, so make sure to let your family and friends know ASAP if they want to see you shine.

If you have not participated in a slam poetry competition before, it is a good idea to watch videos of slam performances to get an idea of how it works. Below you can see the kinds of things the judges will be considering. This is only a rough outline of how the judges score poems, much will be up to each individual judge.

Performance-The poet speaks clearly, projects his/her voice, has memorized his/her poem and effectively performs to the audience. The poet should speak clearly and distinctly, without mispronouncing words or stammering. Makes eye contact with audience, etc.

Poem– The poem is well crafted and demonstrates effective use of poetic language, which may include figurative language and/or rich vocabulary. The poem conveys an idea and a point of view. The poem captures and conveys human emotion and experience. The poem effectively uses rhythm and sound of language.

Interpretation-The poet’s body movement, facial expressions, and gestures are consistent with and enhance the ideas and mood of the poem. The poet conveys energy and emotion that is consistent with and enhances the ideas and mood of the poem.