National Slam Championship
Rules Policy

1. The Canadian team slam championship will be held as a central feature of CFSW each year. The number of teams competing each year will be determined by the SpoCan Board of Directors. The process for gaining entrance to the national team slam championship will be governed by the SpoCan Constitution & Bylaws and by the SpoCan Slam Team Qualification Policy.

  • 1a. These rules also cover the Youth Slam Tournament at YouthCanSlam.

2. The National Slam Master is an elected position on the Spocan Board of Directors. The NSM will act as Slam Master for the National Slam Championship or appoint a proxy to act in their stead. This Slam Master will be responsible for scheduling the bouts and securing hosts
and support people for each bout, for selecting and properly charging judges before each competition, for conducting fair and impartial bout draws, and for acting as the final arbiter of any disputes during the competition. The Slam Master is prohibited from competing on a slam team at CFSW and from coaching their local slam team(s) entered into the national team slam championship for that year.

  • 2a) When all teams have registered, if there would be an odd number of teams a Last Chance Slam will be held to create a Wild Card team. Once formed, that team will be treated like any other team in the festival, with one exception. Any poems performed during the Last Chance Slam cannot be performed during the main competition that year.

3. The National Slam Master will ensure that the Canadian team slam championship are conducted at
CFSW under the following regulations:

  • a) The pairings and/or slam order for the preliminary, semi-final and final bouts will be determined by a random draw held before the commencement of each round of the competition. Bout draws will be created in advance using the following priority order:
    1. No teams face the same team twice in both of their bouts.
    2. The placements in the bouts is balanced. If a team gets the 1st spot in one bout, they get the 4th spot in their other bout. The same for 2nd and 3rd.
    3. One of a teams bouts is the ‘early’ bout. The other is the ‘late’ bout. (7pm and 9pm usually).
    4. A team will not be in the same venue both times.

The National Slam Master has the authority to change the bout draw if they deem it necessary, with the understanding that this will not be done lightly.

  • b) Four or five members of each team may participate in a bout. There will be four teams in each bout, for a total of sixteen performances per bout.
  • c) A designated team representative will provide information to the
    Slam Master before the bout begins denoting the names and corresponding letters for each of the four or five members on the team.
  • d) Each bout will have a sacrificial poet (also known as a calibration poet), selected by the Slam Master or their delegate, to calibrate the judges. The sacrificial poet will perform before the official competition begins, and will receive scores from the judges as if they are a part of the competition.
  • When possible there should be no connection between the Sac Poet and any team in the bout. If there is a connection, it should not be pointed out by the host.
  • e) Five judges will be chosen from the audience, with care to not select anyone who is affiliated with or has any personal connection with any of the competing poets or teams. The person selecting the judges will attempt to select a demographic cross-section of the audience.
  • f) Poems can be performed in any style and must be no longer than three minutes in duration. Each performer receives a 10-second grace period beyond three minutes. Every 10 seconds thereafter (or portion of 10 seconds thereafter) will be penalized with a 0.5 point deduction. At the Slam Master’s discretion, if the venue is large enough, there can be an extra ten seconds added on to the first increment (which all teams will be notified of in in advance), making the first penalty at 3:20 (with a continued increase in penalty for each further 10 seconds).
  • g) No props, music, nudity, or costumes are allowed in the competition. Poets may read from sheets of paper, non-commercial notebooks, or handheld digital devices (smartphones etc.) but not from published materials of any kind (i.e. pamphlets, books, chapbooks, etc.), unless the cover on a chapbook is folded back to make it not recognizable as published work
  • h) Scores for each performance will be given by five judges randomly selected before the bout begins. All scores are on a scale from 0.0 to 10.0, in increments of tenths. The poet’s highest and lowest scores are dropped and the three middle scores added together for a final score out of 30.0.
  • i) If a judge gives a score outside the range or in increments of hundredths or greater, the score will be rounded down to the nearest tenth or, in the case of a negative score, rounded up to zero.
  • j) Competitors may perform (in any way they see fit) a solo piece when called to the stage, or they may choose a team piece. Any team piece performed in a certain poet’s slot must either be primarily written by the artist in question, or the team piece must be cooperatively written by artists in the piece, including the artist in question. The poet assigned to a certain slot must be an integral part of the performance. No poet can be assigned more than one slot in a bout.
  • k) At the end of each preliminary bout, teams will receive an overall final score by adding together the scores of their four performances in the bout. The team will then be ranked according to relative placement. The top team in the bout will receive a ranking of 1, second place a 2, and so on.
  • l) Each team will participate in two preliminary bouts. At the conclusion of the preliminary round, their rankings from the two bouts will be added together. The eight teams with the lowest combined ranking scores will move on to the semifinal round.
  • m) Ties in combined rankings are possible and are broken in the following order:
  • i. Highest ‘Strength of Schedule’, defined as the combined placement points of all six team faced by the team.
    ii. Highest placement (i.e. a team with rankings of 1 and 3 finishes ahead of a team with rankings of 2 and 2);
    iii. Overall total score (determined by adding the two overall final scores from both preliminary bouts together);
    iv. Highest individual scores.
  • n) There will be two semi-final bouts with four teams each. The teams that finish first and second in each semi-final bout move on to the finals.
  • If there is a tie for 2nd place at the end of a semi-final, the tie will be broken by the highest INDIVIDUAL score in the bout from the teams that are tied. (If there is still a tie, it will continue to the 2nd highest scoring poem etc.)

If there is a tie for FIRST place at the FINALS, it goes to a sudden death round. Each tied team can send up any team member(s) they want, doing any poem they want (even if they already performed it during the festival or previous festivals), with the exception of any of the four poems performed by the team IN the finals.
Judges will not score the poems. Instead they will watch both and then choose which they thought was better. That team will win the event.

  • o) Slam hosts will conduct themselves as neutrally as possible at all times during bouts.
  • p) Any disagreements, complaints or protests from a bout will be handled by the Slam Master. (The Slam Master may choose to strike a grievance committee at their discretion.)


4. The National Slam Master will also enforce the following rules regarding the use of poetry from previous national team slam championship competitions:

a) No artist may perform a poem in the current competition that they used in previous national team slam championship competitions from the preceding two years at CFSW. This includes preliminary bouts, Semi-Finals and Finals but not Last Chance Slams, sacrificial poems, Underground Slams or any other side events. (Poems from Last Chance Slams are not allowed as part of the competition in the same year they are performed.)

b) Any disagreements, complaints or protests arising from the enforcement of these provisions will be handled by the Slam Master.