- Poems can be on any subject and in any style.
- Each poet must perform work that they have created.
Poets may not use props. Generally, poets are allowed to use their given environment and the accoutrements it offers—microphones, mic stands, the stage itself, chairs on stage, a table or bar top, the aisle—as long as these accoutrements are available to other competitors as well. The rule concerning props is not intended to squelch the spontaneity, unpredictability, or on-the-fly choreography that people love about the slam; its intent is to keep the focus on the words rather than poets who inadvertently use a prop (for example, a timely yet unwitting grab at a necklace, directly referencing the paper are reading from, etc.) can be immediately penalized two points if the emcee and/or bout manager deems the effect of the violation to have been appreciable but sufficiently lacking in specific intent. A formal protest need not be lodged before the emcee or bout manager can penalize a poet or team in this way; however, the decision of the emcee and/or bout manager can be appealed after the bout. A poet whose use of props in a poem appears to be more calculating and the result of a specific intent to enhance, illustrate, underscore, or otherwise augment the words of the poem will be given a retroactive score for the poem equal to two points less than the lowest scoring poem in that bout. This deduction, which can only be applied after a formal protest has been lodged against the offending team, will not be made by the emcee, but by the protest committee assembled for this purpose.
- Body parts are not considered props. Hair, tattoos, mobility, and other accessibility devices are considered body parts and are therefore not considered props.
- Poets may not use musical instruments or pre-recorded music.
- No costumes.
It is acceptable for poets to incorporate, imitate, or otherwise "signify on" the words, lyrics, or tune of someone else (commonly called "sampling") in their own work (20% of the poem, maximum). If a poet replicates another poet's words (i.e., reciting multiple lines verbatim), they should receive the same repercussion as if using a prop. This includes a retroactive score of two points less than the lowest scoring poem in that bout following a formal protest and enforced by the protest committee.
Poems may not be repeated from preliminary bout #1 to preliminary bout #2. Repeating poems will result in zero points.
Poems may not be repeated from preliminaries to semifinals. Repeating poems will result in zero points.
You may not repeat any piece from semifinals in the finals bout. Only poems used during the preliminaries may be repeated in the finals. Repeating poems will result in zero points.
The only exception to the previous rule is regarding tie-breaking poems. A poem used in the preliminary tie-breaking round may be repeated in semifinals. A poem used in a semifinals tie-breaking round may be repeated in finals. Violations of the no repeat rule disqualify the poet and the poet receives a zero for his/her rotation. Therefore each poet should plan on bringing at least three original poems to compete.
- To encourage innovation and new work among the participating poets, no poems performed on finals stage may be performed on finals stage the following year. They may be performed again in the preliminary/semifinal bouts, but not in the event that the team makes it to finals. At the conclusion of the finals bout when all coaches or team leaders meet with the Bout Manager to identify primary authors for all group pieces, teams will complete a document identifying the poet and their first and last lines of each poem performed. All poems performed on finals stage (including first and last line) shall be kept on file by ACUI between years. Repeating poems will result in zero points.
- No performance should last longer than three minutes.
- There are two audience engagements that start the time: first utterance and performance gesture. First utterance includes the first word or sound of the poem that engages the audience or bout officials. First utterance does not include: (i) trigger or content warnings (see section D.6. for more information); (ii) speaking or making noise into a microphone in a manner intended to check the microphone; or (iii) bodily functions such as coughing, sneezing, throat clearing, etc. Performance gesture includes "performative" body movement and physical reaction/recognition towards any audience member by the performer(s). Performance gesture does not include: adjusting the microphone, arranging clothing, rubbing of the face, or any other action done in preparation for the performance. For a group piece, a performance gesture does not include: (i) a preparation to nod to fellow teammates on stage; or (ii) a tap on the thigh to establish pace/start the poem. With these guidelines in mind, the beginning and end of a poem's time is ultimately at the discretion of the timekeeping officials. If poets have concerns regarding time, they should seek out both the bout manager and timekeeper to clarify before the bout begins.
- In relation to performance gesture, time may also start following an excessively long preparation period prior to any utterance or perceived gesture. Timekeepers will be prompted to begin time after poets are perceived as ready.
- When time begins, the timekeeper will raise their hand to signify the start of time.
- After three minutes, there is a 10-second grace period (up to and including 3:10.00). Starting at 3:10.01, a penalty is automatically deducted from each poet's overall score according to the following schedule:
- 3:10 and under = no penalty
- 3:10.01–3:20 = -0.5
- 3:20.01–3:30 = -1.0
- 3:30.01–3:40 = -1.5
- 3:40.01–3:50 = -2.0
- and so on [-0.5 for every 10 seconds over 3:10]
- At 4 minutes, poets will be advised to exit the stage. If the poet refuses to exit the stage after being prompted by Bout Manager and their Team or Coach, their respective team can experience disqualification.
- The announcement of the time penalty and its consequent deduction will be made by the emcee or scorekeeper after all the judges have reported their scores. The judges should not even be told that a poet went over time until it is too late for them to adjust their scores.
- There will be three time keepers recording time for semifinals and finals. The median time will be determined as the official time. In the event of a technical error or other circumstances in which only two time keepers record time, the average of the two times will be determined as the official time.
- A content/trigger warning is a statement that warns the audience that the content they are about to watch, hear, etc. contains material that could cause distress, trauma, or leave person(s) feeling activated. Hearing a content/trigger warning before listening to a performance may help the room prepare to manage trauma responses while witnessing the piece. As mentioned in section D.2, Content/trigger warnings will not count against time. The only exception to this rule exists when content/trigger warnings are blatantly misused and/or manipulated to enhance the poem and/or performance (as determined by bout manager or emcee). Only in aforementioned scenario will trigger warnings count toward the total time. Trigger warnings should not exceed 10 seconds in length. Content/trigger warnings can also be given by the emcee, provided that the coach or poet gives the emcee and bout manager advanced notice (at least one poet in advance).
- Teams may have up to five members. The fifth member will serve as a "floating" member who can compete in any bout.
- A team cannot report a member as a primary author more than once in a bout.
- NO MORE THAN 5 POETS CAN APPEAR ON THE STAGE to perform A GROUP PIECE.
- In the course of a bout, the 5th poet may appear in a group piece(s) and perform a solo piece as long as primary authorship is not violated.
- Duos, trios, and quartets (otherwise known as team, group, or collaborative pieces) are allowed, even encouraged, so long as all of the primary authors perform them. The poet who offers up their individual spot on stage in order to accommodate a group piece must be one of the primary authors of that piece.
- Every team member who performs during a bout must be a primary author on at least one of their team’s poems performed during that bout.
- A group piece with more than one primary author does not have to be used in the same primary author’s slot each time it is performed in the course of the competition, but a group piece with only one primary author must only and always be performed during that writer/performer’s slot.
- Group pieces may not be repeated in subsequent years unless all of the primary authors are present and on a team with one another again.
- A team piece may be substituted for any or all of the members of a team in any bout. Provided all other rules regarding team pieces and repetition are followed, one team could use all team pieces in one bout (or four in an elimination round).
- In an effort to promote and encourage collaboration, teams using group pieces will no longer be required to declare at the start of the poem which primary author’s slot the poem will go in. This does not change the standing rule that every poem needs a different declared primary author, only enables greater flexibility among teams that use group pieces. At the end of each bout all coaches or team leaders must meet with the bout manager to confer and identify that 4 slots were filled by 4 different primary authors for all team pieces performed in the bout.
- Should a team decide to declare a group piece's primary author at the start of the poem rather than declare it as a group piece, for reasons such as starting the poem with the appearance of an individual poem and "surprising" the audience by adding more poets throughout the piece, or otherwise, the primary author slot for that poem must be assigned to the originally announced poet.
- The following will be the bout order for poetry bouts consisting of 3, 4, and 5 teams with 4 rounds/poets per bout. Bout order will be drawn several minutes prior to the start of the slam and requires a coach or team leader from each team to join the bout manager and /or emcee to complete and confirm a random drawing.
- Three-Team Bout Order: ABC; BCA; CAB; ABC
- Four-Team Bout Order: ABCD, CADB, DCBA, BDAC
- Five-Team Bout Order: First rotation is random draw: ABCDE and subsequent rotations are from high to low scores from the previous rotation (not cumulative). Therefore if the scores from the first rotation are: A-25.7; B-23.9; C-26.2; D- 26.1; E-26.5, the order for the second rotation is ECDAB.
If there is a tied score after a rotation, the team that performed last in the previous rotation will then perform before the other tied-score team (in score order with the other teams) in the next rotation.
For instance, if the previous rotation was ECDAB and teams D and A have the same score, then A would perform before D (in score order with teams E,C, and B) in the next rotation.
- In the event of a serious technical/audio disruption, fire alarm, or any extended interruption of the bout, the emcee will introduce another sacrificial poet in order to recalibrate the bout prior to formally getting on to the next poet in the bout.
- It is expected prior to the start of a bout that the bout manager or emcee will orchestrate a formal "look see" with the selected judges, coaches, and all competitive team members. This may be done either by having all judges come on stage or bringing all judges and teams into the hallway or corner of the room. All coaches and competitive team members must agree on the selected judges prior to the start of the slam.
- All efforts shall be made to select five judges who will be fair. However, should it be impossible to select five impartial judges after following the Protocol for Judge Selection, either by lack of persons or disagreements from the teams during the "look see," three judges may be used rather than five. In this case, no scores shall be dropped and these three judges make up the score out of thirty points. This should be the absolute last resort after all of the Protocol for Judge Selection has been followed.
- Upon confirmation, the judges will:
- Be given a set of printed instructions on how to judge a poetry slam,
- Have a private, verbal crash course by the emcee or house manager on the dos and don'ts of poetry slam judging (where they can ask questions), and
- Hear the standardized Official Emcee Spiel (rewritten and tweaked periodically) which, among other things, will apprise the audience of their own responsibilities as well as remind the judges of theirs.
- Having heard, read, or otherwise experienced these three sets of instructions; a judge cannot be challenged over a score. Challenges, problems, and/or disagreements regarding the impartiality of the judges should be brought privately to the attention of the emcee or house manager BEFORE the bout begins or as soon as it is apparent. The "look see" qualifies as before the bout begins. Having heard and understood the complaint, the bout manager or emcee will then make a decision on how to move forward with the bout. There will be no circumstance where a bout/round would restart.
The following protocol shall be used in order to select judges that attempts to be as diverse in race, gender, sexuality, and other identities as possible:
1st–Start with selecting from random audience members in the room or surrounding area. Note: Preselected volunteer judges may be utilized pending they have no prior affiliation with poets/performers in that particular bout.
2nd–Go to host college event staff and/or ACUI organizers not associated with any specific team or engaged in this bout.
3rd–Go to participating volunteer staff members for this bout (suggested in the following order: timekeeper, scorekeeper, available sound tech, or available “runners”).
4th–Go to registered non-competitive poets who came with a team not involved with this bout, but not an active participant for any time.
5th–If necessary use the bout manager
6th–Only as an ABSOLUTE last resort (and with the approval of coaches and team members) should you seek out actual participants of another team. You must ensure that these selected judges are not scheduled to compete against another team in that bout.
- If sufficient judges cannot be found 15 minutes after the scheduled start, a runner must be sent to other rooms in attempt to find judges. A runner may be someone affiliated with the bout oversight who knows about judge selection. For example, it can be the host or time keeper, but not the bout manager.
- Bouts must begin no later than 30 minutes of the scheduled start time. Therefore near the 20-25 minute mark, the bout managers must resort to exercising even the least preferred options above.
- The judges will give each poem a score from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest or "perfect" score.
- They will be encouraged to use one decimal place to preclude the likelihood of a tie.
- Each poem will get five scores unless only three judges could be selected as described under the Judging section.
- The high and the low scores will be dropped and the remaining three scores will be added together.
- Team scores will be announced during the bout.
- Penalties for sampling, primary authorship, props, costumes, musical accompaniment, or violating the repeat rule can range from a deduction of score (ex: a zero instead of 29.5) to team disqualification. Though the rules are clearly outlined, we recognize there may be nuances to each situation, and want to honor the intentions and impact, accordingly. The bout staff and/or the ACUI CUPSI staff will consider all factors and communicate with coaches prior to making a decision that severely affects scores/standings.
- All ties for all ranks in all preliminary bouts shall be resolved through a tie breaking round between the tied teams. Only ties for first will be broken in semi-finals and finals.
- The rule permitting up to five competing poets per team extends to the tie-breaking round. This round is the only instance when a poet may have a second primary authorship slot within a single bout (i.e. a regular bout slot and the tie breaking slot).
- In the case of a tie between teams for advancement from preliminaries to semifinals, the point differential system will be used to break said ties. The point differential system measures how close a team came to winning their bout. If two teams are tied with a "4" ranking, for instance (one team finished in second in both prelims, the other finished in first and third place in their bouts), then the tie would be broken be tabulating how far from victory they were: Team A finished in second place in both bouts. They lost bout one by -.6 points and bout two by -1.9 points. Their total point differential is a -2.5. Team B finished in first place in bout one, and third in bout 2. Their differential for bout one is ZERO, their differential for bout three is a -2.2 points. Their total point differential is a -2.2. In this scenario Team B would advance. It rewards teams for winning one or the other bout, and also keeps consistency between bouts by asking teams to compete against their own judges, and no others.
If, at the conclusion of all rotations in a bout a tie exists any rank, each team tied for that rank shall be required to send one more poem to the stage. It may be performed by any poet or poets on the teams who are tied. Teams in the tiebreaker will draw for order. Judges will listen to all poems in the tiebreaker rotation and at the conclusion of all poems, will score the poems as they have through the entire bout. Time penalties and other penalties will be used, if needed, to determine a final score.
If there is still a tie after the scores are tallied, the judges will be asked to vote for the poem they liked the best based on the order of the bout. For example, if a judge preferred the first poem, they would vote 1, second poem they vote 2, etc.
In the case of a tie between more than two teams, if there is still a tie for first after the tiebreaker, the teams that are not tied for first after the tiebreaker votes are tallied are dropped from the voting, and the judges will be asked to vote again only considering the remaining teams. This is repeated until a winner can be declared.
|Team C||Judge Preference|
Eliminate Team C from consideration, because it is really between A & B at this point. Vote again
|Team A||Team B||Judge Preference|
|2||3||*Team B wins|
- If you place #1 in both of your preliminary round bouts you earn a “2” (1+1). If you place #1 in your first bout and #4 in your last bout you earn a “5” (1+4). Rank order will determine the top teams who will win berths to the semi-final round bouts.
- Ties will be broken using the point differential system. (See Below)
- The number of teams to reach semi-finals will be proportional to the number of total teams registered. ACUI will alert all registered teams as to how many teams will reach semi-finals and what the process will be to reach the final four prior to the start of the tournament.
- In the case of a tie between teams for advancement from preliminaries to semi-finals, the point differential system will be used to break said ties. The point differential system measures how close a team came to winning their bout.
If two teams are tied with a "4" ranking, for instance (one team finished in second in both prelims, the other finished in first and third place in their bouts), then the tie would be broken be tabulating how far from victory they were: Team A finished in second place in both bouts. They lost bout one by -.6 points and bout two by -1.9 points. Their total point differential is a -2.5. Team B finished in first place in bout one, and third in bout 2. Their differential for bout one is ZERO, their differential for bout three is a -2.2 points. Their total point differential is a -2.2. In this scenario Team B would advance.
It rewards teams for winning one or the other bout, and also keeps consistency between bouts by asking teams to compete against their own judges, and no others.
- To avoid mixing 3 & 4 team bouts, CUPSI returns to its tradition of using pick-up teams or “alternators” to balance preliminary bouts as necessary. If the number of registered teams do not equate in the coordination of either an all three team or an all four team bout system during preliminaries, pick-up teams may be used to balance preliminary bouts. Under such conditions an announcement will be made prior to the start of the preliminaries requesting volunteers from a pool of registered non-competitive poets (RNCP) or the 5th poets from available teams. Pick-up Poets (PUP’s) will be randomly assigned to these teams by the tournament host director in consultation with ACUI. While these poets are not fully vetted (enrollment eligibility/registrars authorization) they would be required to meet with the ACUI poetry slam director to review & sign the Code of Conduct.
- Pick-up teams will be comprised of four PUPS from four different institutions.
- Should a team release a 5th poet to a pick up team, the poet cannot return to their institution and compete later in the tourney.
- PUPS will be scored like any other team and the audience should be made aware of their participation in the bout at the start.
- Pick-up teams will not progress beyond preliminaries but their scores will count and they will be ranked through preliminaries.
- A special committee made up of CUPSI host site members and ACUI officials will hear appeals for all protests.
- Prior to the start of all bouts, a standardized protest document will be provided to all of the team’s coaches in the designated bout.
- Protests must be submitted by 11:59pm the night of the bout (or within an hour of the bout end time). The committee will review the protest and available evidence and hear testimonials from the teams directly involved and interview the available bout staff before rendering a decision.
- All committee decisions are final and adjustments to scores and rankings will be made and announced as necessary.
- Protests related to the finals night bout must be filed via text (with the information below) and sent to the bout manager and designated ACUI official(s) no more than 2 minutes after the conclusion of the last poets’ performance. In respect to the waiting audience, the committee will swiftly but earnestly review the protest and available evidence and hear testimonials from the teams directly involved and interview the available bout staff before rendering a decision.
Protest Text Format:
"This text signifies that I, [name] of team [insert team], am submitting an official protest due to [grievance].
- At any time during finals if a team wishes to file a protest they will contact an ACUI Staff Member or Bout Manager communicating (in-person) their intention to initiate a protest. The ACUI Staff Member or Bout Manager will write down the team name, and the time of protest, which will serve as evidence of when the initial contact was made. The standardized protest document should be completed and submitted 5 minutes or less after the last poem to the ACUI Staff or the Bout Manager.