What is Poetry Slam? Simply put, poetry slam is the competitive art of performance poetry. Poets perform their original work and are judged by members of the audience. Judges give numerical scores (on a scale from 0 to 10), based on the poets' content and performance. For semis and finals, poets have a 3-minute time limit, with a 10 second grace period. It's a fast-paced, high-energy trick that we use to get people in a room together, excited about poetry.
When are the slams?
We hold poetry slams during our regular shows, on the first and third Thursday of every month. From September to February, the third Thursday slam is a Youth Slam (only open to poets age 19 and under), with a few exceptions. Otherwise, competitions are all-ages. All-ages slams are at the end of the night (usually starting around 9:45). Youth slams are at the beginning of the night (8pm).
What is it all for?
Mostly, the poetry and community! But we also send poets to the national competitions:
National Poetry Slam (NPS): The big leagues. The top two poets in every qualifying all-ages slam advance to semi-finals. We hold one semis slam in the winter and one in the spring. Half of the poets in semis advance to finals (usually the third Thursday in May). The top 4 or 5 poets in finals make it onto the Providence NPS Team. NPS 2015 will be in Oakland, CA.
Brave New Voices (BNV): The youth poetry festival and competition. The top two poets in every qualifying youth slam advance to youth finals (usually the third Thursday in February). The top 5 or 6 poets make it onto the Providence BNV Team. BNV 2015 will be in Atlanta, GA.
Individual World Poetry Slam (IWPS): The national indy competition. The top-scoring poet in finals attends as Providence's rep. IWPS 2015 will be in Washington, DC.
Women of the World Poetry Slam (WoWPS): The national all-women competition. We hold a special all-women slam, usually in February, to determine our rep. All women who have slammed in the previous year qualify. WoWPS 2015 will be in Albuquerque, NM.
Who's at the Providence Poetry Slam?
Anyone can sign up to compete, no prior experience necessary! Most nights, the slam is hosted by Laura Brown-Lavoie or Franny Choi. The open mic is usually hosted by a member of the ProvSlam staff.
What do I need to slam?
- 3 original poems. They don't need to be memorized but often score better if they are.
- Your name on the list, which opens at 7:30 and usually fills up fast.
- A little guts.
What do I need to judge a slam?
- To not know any of the competitors personally.
- A pulse.
What do I do if a poem or person make me feel unsafe?
We encourage poets and audience members to engage in dialogue around the content of one another's poems. It's not uncommon for a poem to spark anger, frustration, or confusion in a listener. One of our main goals is to build a space in which people can learn from and challenge each other.
That said, we also seek to build a space in which all members feel safe and respected. If something happens to violate this (whether in the content of a poem or through the actions of a person present at the slam), please speak to a ProvSlam staff member as soon as possible. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.