What is a poetry slam?
Think of a slam as a live poetry competition. Like an open mic, people read out their work to an audience. However, in a slam, there is a competitive element - invited judges (usually poets themselves) score readers on how well a poem is written and delivered, with the top scorers going through to the next round.
In our slams, there are usually three rounds: the first round is open to all. However, in the second round, eight people get through (the top eight scorers as determined by the judges), and four through to the third and final round. Each read again to determine who will be Slam Champion!
How do I enter?
Our slams are open to all poets of all style, with new readers always welcome. You don't have to be experienced or published, just willing to share your work in front of a lively and appreciative audience.
To enter for our Belfast Book Festival 2023 Poetry Slam, just purchase an entrant ticket from the Festival Box Office website. Names will be drawn out at random, with each poet invited to read during our Zoom session. Available slots are limited to 20 due to time constraints, so it will be first come, first served.
- All poems must be the sole work of the poet reading them (if for reasons of disability, you are unable to read and wish to nominate a reader on your behalf, just let us know).
- The time limit for each poem is three minutes - if you go over, you are disqualified, so watch the clock! (We will have a timer displayed giving you a countdown.)
- One poem only per round.
- No props, costumes or musical accompaniment that may be considered as enhanced your delivery - this is all about reading aloud.
- For any poet with a disability who may be unable to read for themselves, you can nominate a friend to register and read on your behalf. Just let us know who the original author is, and who is your chosen reader.
Do I need to have memorised my poem(s)?
No! We don't ask people to memorise their poems, so it's okay to read from the sheet / notebook / iPad, etc. There are lots of reasons why people might struggle with memorising a poem (mental health issue, acquired brain injuries, side effects of medication, stress, anxiety, etc), so we feel it's not in the spirit of inclusivity to ask everyone to have to remember their poems.
Most of all, slams are good craic. So don't be too disappointed if you don't get through to the next round, but do enjoy some good poetry on the night. Good luck everyone!