What Are The Rules Of Slam Poetry

Slam poetry is a type of performance art that combines written words with an element of performance. It is a style of writing and presenting poetry that mixes spoken word delivery with strong emotional and physical rhythms and acrobatics. It is both a literary form and an art form – one that uses emotion and physicality to create an experience that is deeply engaging and empowering.

The structure of slam poetry consists of two elements. The first is the use of gripping imagery, powerful metaphors, and highly descriptive language to create a vivid picture in the mind of the reader. The second is the intense delivery of the poem in front of an audience or a panel of judges. Some slams are judged competitively, while others are held for entertainment only.

To understand the rules of slam poetry, one must first understand the purpose of it. It is an art form that uses writing, performance, and emotion to express feelings, emotions, and experiences. Slam poets are expected to utilize rhythm, vocal variation, and expression to create an emotional and physical connection with the audience. While some slams are judged on technical writing and delivery, others choose to go for an emotional reaction.

Those competing in slam poetry competitions must speak loudly, passionately, and clearly, allowing the audience to feel the power of the words being spoken. In order to be successful, slam poets must be able to evoke raw emotions with an intensity that leaves an impression on the audience. Slam poets should always strive to make an impact, regardless of whether they win or not.

Judges in slam poetry competitions are truly looking to see your passion and emotion. The success of slam poetry lies in the performer’s ability to create an emotional connection with the audience, and judges are seeking to see this connection. Judges are particularly looking to see the originality of the poem, how deeply it speaks to the listeners, and how much vulnerabilities the slam poet has. Slam poets should not be scared to show vulnerability, as it is one of the most powerful aspects of slam poetry.

The time limits for a slam poem is often three minutes, but may be longer depending on the style, the venue, and other factors. The time limit should be respected, as going over it can put a damper on the whole performance.

These are just some of the basic rules of slam poetry. It is an ever-evolving art form with no set rules. Everyone has different styles, and while some performers prefer to stick to very technical rules, some prefer to let their emotions fly.

Unspoken Rules

Slam poets should not forget about the unspoken but arguably more important rules of slam poetry. While the slam community is supportive, it is not a place for people to air out their dirty laundry or to be negative about certain topics. Slam poetry should be used as a platform to inspire, heal, and motivate.

The idea behind slam poetry is to give a voice to those who are unheard. It’s a place for people to express their truths, share their experiences, and tell their stories, so it’s important to be mindful of the issues that come up while performing. Slam poets should remain open and thoughtful, leaving room for growth and self-expression.

Apart from that, slam poets should strive to create an empowering environment where all feel respected and safe. All slams must strive to be a safe space that is open to new ideas and new perspectives, while also maintaining its core values.

When competing in slam poetry competitions, the most important thing is to make sure that the performance is unique and powerful. Slam poets should never be scared to be vulnerable and to connect with the audience. Slam poetry is an art form, and it takes time to develop and hone one’s craft. With practice and dedication, anyone is capable of becoming a slam poet.


A great performance in slam poetry is the result of an artist who has taken the time to craft a piece that is dynamic and engaging. It is important for slam poets to always remember the power of physicality in performance. Slam poets should be aware of their body language, the speed and the intensity of their delivery, and the pauses they choose.

The performance should be dynamic, and the slam poet must know how to manipulate the stage. It is essential to understand how to perform in front of an audience, and how to use facial expressions to captivate the audience’s attention.

In addition to their physicality, slam poets should also focus on the language they use. They should pay attention to the words they choose and the way they use them, as this can greatly affect the performance and how it is received by the audience. The right words used in the right way can really elevate a slam poem and make it truly memorable for the audience.


Slam poetry is more than just a performance. Slam poets must also be adept at creating pieces that are engaging and powerful. This means knowing how to effectively use different techniques like metaphors and similes, as well as alliteration and assonance. Knowing the basics of writing helps make slam poems more engaging.

Slam poets should also have an understanding of the language structure. Knowing how to make the poem flow, how to make it sound more like a spoken word poem, and how to use both language and punctuation are all important components of crafting an effective piece of slam poetry.

Apart from these technical skills, a slam poet should also aim to always make their pieces as original as possible. It is very tempting to use popular and cliché topics or language, but avoiding this is essential.

The poem should be unique and fresh, and should reflect the experiences and beliefs of the individual who is performing it. It should always feel alive and powerful, conveying emotion and intensity, as this is what makes slam poetry more than just words on a page.


When competing in slam poetry, it is important for the performer to remember that the judges, apart from critiquing the performance, are also looking for certain criteria such as audience interaction, overall structure, and the originality of the piece.

A performer’s ability to captivate and engage their audience is essential, as is their ability to be creative and think on the spot. It is important to stay professional at all times and respect all the poets involved. Maintaining a high level of professionalism reflects well upon the performers in competition and also reflects on the slam poetry scene as a whole.

Apart from that, performers should also remember to stay humble and be thankful for being given the chance to express themselves. Every time a poet takes the stage, it is an opportunity for growth and discovery, as well as an opportunity to share stories, voices and experiences.


The audience is the backbone of slam poetry. They are the ones who listen, appreciate, and give feedback on performances. A great audience will always make a performance special and allow the poet to soar in the moment. They should be respected and acknowledged, and should always be given the opportunity to respond and react to the performance.

Performers should never forget that the audience makes or breaks a slam poem. To ensure a great experience, performers should always approach the audience with respect and gratitude, no matter how big or small the crowd is. Keeping the audience engaged and giving honest feedback is essential, as it allows them to be a part of the performance.

Slam poetry is more than just a performance. It is a community, and it is the audience that brings it all together. Without them, slam poetry would not be what it is today.

Minnie Walters is a passionate writer and lover of poetry. She has a deep knowledge and appreciation for the work of famous poets such as William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and many more. She hopes you will also fall in love with poetry!

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