The rules vary from slam to slam. But they are based on the rules set out by Poetry Slam Inc

Here is how we roll at the Burlington Slam Project


  • Original – Covers are not allowed in the slam. Each poem must be your own creation.
  • Repeat – Poets must perform a different poem for each round of that night’s slam.
  • Props – Props, costumes, and musical instruments are not allowed in the slam. Just you, your voice, and the stage.
  • Time – A maximum of 3 minutes for each poem. You get a grace period of 10 seconds, after which 0.5 will be deducted from your final score for every 10 seconds you go past.


  • Before the slam starts 5 people from audience are asked to be judges.
  • At the end of each poem judges score them Olympic style
  • The highest and lowest scores are eliminated before adding the scores together to give each poem a score out of 30.
  • The poet with the highest cumulative score after 2 rounds is the winner.

Guidelines / Suggestions

  • Styles – All styles are welcome: a cappella, hip-hop, theatrical monologues, literary poetry, sound poetry, dub poetry, rants, haikus, power raps, whatever. Just remember you’ll be judged on delivery as well as content.
  • Team pieces – Team pieces are not only allowed but also encouraged. However, the score only counts for the person whose slot in which the piece was performed.
  • Reading – Reading from the page is allowed. So is memorizing. Just remember you’re judged on content as well as performance.

Some Things to try!

  • This is an interactive show, y’all! Be sure to bring some energy! Snap, moan, grunt, clap, stomp – do whatever whenever you hear a line you like! Show the artists what you appreciate! Say hi afterwards, tell them you liked it! It means a lot!
  • If you hear anyone say the name “Marc Smith” – the appropriate response is “SO WHAT?!” (He may have created slam, but it’s not about him, so we try to remember that.)
  • Try judging out! Sure, the audience will cheer or boo you based on the scores you give, but you get the power to control who wins! We need judges every night, and we’d love your help!
  • Volunteer! We always need timekeepers, scorekeepers, doorkeepers, and floor sweepers. If you’d like to get involved with the Burlington Slam Project, talk to either Tomy or Dan (they’re at every slam. Can’t miss ’em.)
  • Hit the open mic! You don’t need to compete to take part! Want to share something, but aren’t ready for numbers and competition? No problem! We’ve got an open mic at the beginning of the night to share free of judgment!


We certainly value creativity, but “hate speech” will not be tolerated.

Everyone is welcome to sign up for a slam. Newcomers are encouraged to check out a slam before competing. Usually the Open Mic is the best place to start.

While competition is a main feature of the slam, please remember that the points are not the point; the poetry is the point.

We like to keep our slam space as safe and comfortable as possible – both for listeners and artists.  There will always been the potential for triggering or upsetting material, as well as differing opinions on closely-held beliefs. If you, at any point in the evening, need to step out of the room to take care of yourself, make that your priority – you will not be judged or looked down upon for it, but please, we ask that you respect the artist onstage, and the rest of the audience.


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