What is a Poetry Slam?

SLAM! is high-energy, competitive poetry.

SLAM! brings together diverse poets and an enthusiastic crowd.

Bob Holman calls Poetry Slams “the democratization of verse.”  Anyone can Slam and audience response is vital.  The energy in the room runs as high as the stakes.

The monthly Calgary Poetry Slam was started in February 2006 by the Calgary Spoken Word Society.  It takes place on the last Monday of every month.

What’s the Score?
A panel of judges is chosen at random from the eager, uproarious and extremely attractive audience.
Each poet is given a score based on (#1) their writing, (#2) their performance and (#3) the audience’s reaction – so, they have to pay attention not only to what they say, but how they say it.

Round One
There are 10 poets.
They are divided into two groups.
They each perform 3 minutes of their own Spoken Word Poetry.
The two top scorers in each group go on to compete in Round Two.

Round Two
Four mighty and fearless Poets from Round One each present a new poem.
The top two scorers move on to the final round.

Round Three
Two Poets compete until one is left standing with the prize money, the title and the glory.


What kind of poetry will I hear at a Slam?

The key is diversity.  There’s no formula for Slams; they encourage a wide range of voices and styles, everything from Hip-Hop to Sound Poetry, lyrical verse to jazz.  Since the judges are chosen at random, there’s no way to guess how the night will play out!


How do I sign up for a Slam?

Arrive early! One hour before the start of every Slam, Someone will be there to start taking registrations at the venue.


What do I need to bring?

  • A entrance fee, which is $5 (unless otherwise indicated).
  • 3 poems, each of them no longer than 3 minutes. You may not get to perform them all, but bring them just in case.
  • Friends! Part of the score is based on audience reaction; the bigger the crowd, the better.


Are there any rules?

  • No props. No costumes. No musical instruments.
  • No boo-ing anyone you haven’t slept with.
  • Seriously, don’t read for longer than 3 minutes.


What happens if someone reads for longer than 3 minutes?

Points are deducted from their score, and the entire crowd swells up to chant “You rat bastard bitch, you’re ruining everything for everyone... but it was well worth it!”


Why do you charge at the door?

Based on the winners of the monthly Calgary Poetry Slam, we are putting together a Calgary Slam Team to travel the world, representing the city at national and international Slam competitions.  Money from the monthly Slams goes toward travel funding for the Slam Team.