* Each poem must be of the poet's own construction;
* Each poet gets three minutes (plus a ten-second grace period) to read one poem. If the poet goes over time, points will be deducted from the total score.
* The poet may not use props, costumes or musical instruments;
* Of the scores the poet received from the five judges, the high and low scores are dropped and the middle three are added together, giving the poet a total score of 0-30.
Slam is engineered for the audience, whereas a number of open mike readings are engineered as a support network for poets. Slam is designed for the audience to react vocally and openly to all aspects of the show, including the poet's performance, the judges' scores, and the host's banter. Audiences can boo or cheer at the conclusion of a poem, or even during a poem.
The best poetry slams include a wide variety of writing and performance styles. This, of course, depends on who shows up to compete and-- beyond the first round-- what the judges see fit to hear more of. The only requirement for judging is that the audience member not be a family member or intimate friend of any of the competitors.
The best slam poets are those who are skilled at both theatrical performance (stage presence, timing, voice modulation, body language and emoting) and pure poetic writing (metaphor, insight, brevity, sonance, wit).
The point of a poetry slam is to shout your drivel louder than the previous contestant, while whooping your friends into a brain-dead ecstacy by throwing in staccato clusters of meaningless interior rhymes without discretion or respect to form reflecting thematic content. You must also recite your work breathlessly, hunched over your microphone and clutching your tofu-addled guts.
Invariably, poetry slams are populated by idiots and poems are full of sound and fury, signifying something only if you are part of the poetry slam clique.