A poetry slam is a competition between poets or teams of poets. It usually consists of three or four rounds. During each round, each poet (or team) performs one of his or her original pieces. In team slams, a team can perform a group poem that uses more than one voice.
Before the slam, the host selects five judges at random from the audience. After each poem, the judges assign the piece a score between zero and ten. The scorekeeper drops the high and low scores and totals the remaining three. The poets with the most points go on to the next round, and ultimately win the slam.
Slams are usually noisy and high-energy. They are a great venue for writers to perform to an enthusiastic crowd.
Slams at Wash UWU-SLam hosts a Preliminary Slam for each month of the Fall semester. In each of these four Slams, approximately eight individual poets compete. The poets who win first and second place in each Preliminary Slam qualify for the Grand Slam. Once a poet has placed first or second in a Preliminary Slam, they cannot compete in another slam until the Grand Slam.
The Grand Slam is held in February and is used to select the Slam Team that represents Wash U at Nationals. In addition to the eight poets who ranked in the top two in the Preliminary Slams, WU-SLam chooses two Wild Card Poets to compete in the Grand Slam. The Wild Card Poets are poets who showed their skill in the Preliminary Slams, but who didn't take first or second place.
Slams are often hosted by visiting poets and begin with an open mic, an opportunity for anyone in the Wash U community to perform their poetry.
In the past, we have held slams in Ursa's Cafe, the Gargoyle, and the DUC.
Yes! Anyone can slam, whether you are affiliated with WU-SLam or not. Signups are typically held at Inklings one or two weeks before the slam date. Contact Jesse Huang if you have any questions.
If you want to perform but aren't interested in competing, you can participate in the open mic, or you can volunteer to be the Sacrificial Poet, the poet who is used to calibrate the judges' scores.