SLAM 2017 Rules


The rules for the Ehalakasa SLAM are a revised version of the National Poetry Slam (NPS) Rules in the United States of America.

The SLAM consists of poets competing for the ultimate crown as champion. There are three qualifying rounds that will produce nine finalists (three finalists per qualifying round). Only ten poets will compete per qualifying round.


Qualifying Round


Slammers expecting to compete in the SLAM are to apply and pay the participation fee a week to the slam. Applications are to be done via email and will be confirmed with proof of payment. Failure to do this will render an application void.

Successful applicants are now termed Slammers and are expected to be at the venue for the slam an hour to thirty minutes of the slam commencing. Failure to adhere to this will disqualify a slammer from participating.



Before the slam begins each slammer will draw from a bowl rolls of paper with numbers for their positions in the competition line up. The numbers will depend on the number of slammers competing. This order will be reversed in the second bout. The slammers for the final bout however will draw again to determine the final line up.


Poems and Performance

  1. Poems can be on any subject and in any style.
  2. Each slammer must perform work that s/he has created.
  3. No props.
    Generally, slammers are allowed to use their given environment on stage and the accoutrements it offers – microphones, mic stands, the stage itself, chairs on stage, a table or bar top, the aisle – as long as these accoutrements are available to other competitors as well. Usage of a prop will result in two points being deducted from the score. This will only be announced after judges have declared their scores.
  4. No musical instruments or pre-recorded music.
  5. No costumes. Clothing on the day must remain consistent throughout the bouts. Accessories such as hats and necklaces are allowed but care should be taken in using them in performance. It should be seen as prop and if argued the Slam Master may penalize the slammer. A slammer will be penalized by two points if he or she breaks the costume rule.


It is acceptable for a slammer to incorporate, imitate, or otherwise “signify on” the words, lyrics, or tune of someone else (commonly called “sampling”) in his own work.

The No Repeat Rule.

A poem may only be used once during the preliminary and semi-final rounds. A poem used in a year may not be repeated in that same year.

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 slammer is certainly allowed several full seconds to adjust the microphone and get settled and ready, but as soon as he or she makes a connection with the audience, the Time Keeper can start the clock. The slammer does not have an unlimited amount of “mime time.” Slammers with ambiguous beginnings and endings to their performances should seek out the Time Keeper at each venue to settle on a starting & 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 slammer’s overall score according to the following schedule:

3:10 and under no penalty
3:10:001 – 3:20 -0.5
3:20:001 – 3:30 -1.0
3:30:001 – 3:40 -1.5
3:40:001 – 3:50 -2.0
and so on [-0.5 for every 10 seconds over 3:10]

The announcement of the time penalty and its consequent deduction will be made by the Time Keeper after all the judges have reported their scores. The judges should not even be told that a slammer went overtime until it is too late for them to adjust their scores.

Maximum Time Limit.

After four minutes, only the SLAM Master must stop a slammer from continuing to perform.

Influencing the crowd.

Slammers are allowed to talk casually with anyone in the crowd before the bout begins (except the judges, if they have already been chosen). They are not, however, allowed to give anything to the audience or have anyone do this for them. Furthermore, inside the venue (in the presence or within earshot of the audience) they must not act in any way that would disrupt the slam proceedings or inconvenience a slammer on stage. Slammers who violate this rule will be given one warning by the SLAM Master. Further violation will result in a two-point penalty for that slammer’s score.


Judging and Scoring


All efforts shall be made to select five judges who will be fair. Once chosen, the judges will:

  1. Be given instructions on how to judge a SLAM
  2. Have a private, verbal crash course on the do’s and don’ts of poetry slam judging (where they can ask questions)
  3. Hear the standardized SLAM Master Intro, which, among other things, will apprise the audience of their own responsibilities as well as remind the judges of theirs. Having heard, read, or otherwise experienced these three sets of instructions, a judge cannot be challenged over a score.

Complaints, problems, and/or disagreements regarding the impartiality of the judges should be brought privately to the attention of the SLAM Master BEFORE the bout begins. Having heard and understood the complaint, the Slam Master will then make a decision that cannot be further challenged.


The judges will give each poem a score from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest or “perfect” score. Each poem will get five scores. The high and the low scores will be dropped and the remaining three scores will be added together. Judges have the option of adding a decimal to all scores lower than 10. Thus scores such as 5.9 and 9.9 are possible.



Slammers will compete in three bouts to determine a winner. Each bout will result in two slammers being eliminated by score. At any event the second and third bout should have eight and six slammers respectively. Thus in the result that less than ten slammers compete, as long as the slammers in the upcoming bout has the required number or less no elimination will occur.

Example: If nine slammers compete, at the end of the first bout one slammer will be eliminated to make the slammers eight as required. If eight or seven slammers compete in the first bout however no elimination will occur till the second bout is over.

Breaking Ties.

If, at the conclusion of a bout a tie exists either for elimination or for the top three spots in the final bout the decision of who is saved or goes through shall be put to a vote by the judges. The judges will vote for the slammer they feel deserves to win or be saved. The judges will come onto the stage to cast their vote; thereafter the Slam Master will count votes and call out the winner.



Qualifying round

A SLAM competition to acquire finalists for the SLAM Final


There are three bouts per SLAM. Each bout can result in elimination. See Qualifying Round for more details


A poet who competes in a SLAM.

SLAM Master

The MC and coordinator of the SLAM. This individual has the final say in all matters pertaining to the SLAM

Time Keeper

This individual times each performance and also keeps score per performance.