Slam Poetry

History of Slam Poetry

Slam poetry has been around for about 30 years, and involves reading or reciting original poems that are under 3 minutes long.Poetry Slams officially started up when a construction worker and poet Marc Smith started a reading series in a Chicago jazz club in 1987. It started as a type of oral poetry in the mid 80s that has a political/protest/identity focus.

There are different types of slams; open (open to anyone and any type of poem) or theme (poems must be on the advertised theme i.e. mathematics).
Slam poems can use a variety of poetic forms and techniques such as rhyme and rhythm.

Slam poetry is generally associated with teens and young adult performers and poets.

The last few years have seen World Competitions held in France.

Ms Grech

Harry Baker's Dinosaur Love

Baker, Harry. (2015). Dinosaur Love (TEDxYouth@Hounslow). Retrieved from

Current Slam Poet World Champion Harry Baker

Baker, Harry. (2014). Grand Slam Poetry Champion (TEDxExeter). Retrieved from

What is Slam Poetry?

Slam Poetry is a type of competition where people read their poems without props, costumes, or music.

After performing, they receive scores (0-10) from 3 - 5 randomly selected judges.

The judges can be anyone: they don’t even need to be poets! Scores are awarded based on how much each judge likes a poem.

The purpose of this judging process is so that everyone gets to participate. 

Slam Poetry doesn’t need to be a specific form of poetry.

If you want to see some slam poetry in action, check out the Perth slam poetry page.

Ms Grech

Slam Poetry Definition

Definition: Slam Poetry is an event-format, where a performer recites or reads an original poem, that conforms to particular rules and conventions, and is judged by a panel who award a number score. It is written to be performed. Slam Poetry is one type of Spoken Word Poetry.

Ms Grech

What is Poetry?

Kovacs, Melissa. (2015). What makes a poem? Retrieved from
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