BreatheINK Youth Poetry Slam Rules

The monthly slam is open to the first 12 poets to sign up between the ages of 13-19 years old.  Sign up for the slam will begin promptly at 7 PM in the lobby area.  The sign-up list will close and the order of performance will be determined at 7:30 PM by the poet draw.  If more than 15 poets sign-up for a slam, then numbers will be drawn that correspond with the appropriate number of signed up poets.  The overflow poets will automatically be signed up for the next month's slam but will not be allowed to compete in the slam that night.  Also, the top two finishers in each slam are not allowed to compete in the next month's slam as competitors.  They will be allowed to open mic and sacrifice if needed and space allows.

*If a poet shows up after the sign-up cut off time has passed and there are still available slots in the slam, they will be allowed to compete.  They will perform first.  If there are multiple late poets and there are available slots, they will draw for order.*

The poets will draw numbers to determine the order of the 1st round.  In the 2nd round, the poet with the highest score will perform first and the round will end with the poet with the lowest score.

The competition will be a three round slam with elimination after each round based on cumulative score.

The 1st and 3rd round will have a 3 minute time limit with a 30 second grace period.  The 2nd round will consist of a 90 second time limit with a 30 second grace period.  If a poem exceeds the grace period, a penalty of .5 points will be deducted for every 10 seconds beyond the grace period from that poem's score.

Judges are preselected from a list of adult volunteers.  The five member panel will judge each poem based on individual performance, writing, and each judge's criteria.  Judges will score poems from 0.0-10.0.  The highest and lowest scores will be dropped and the middle three added together for a final score.  The maximum score each poem can receive is 30.

If there is a tie, the poet with the highest cumulative score at the end of the previous round will be determined as the winner.  If the cumulative scores result in a tie, the poets will share that position's prize.

Poets are not allowed to use any props, costumes, or music during their poems.  A prop is defined as any object in the room used by a poet during their performance that is only available to that poet.  Examples of props are:  using a phone for any purpose other than reading off it, referencing an object brought to the slam specifically for that purpose, etc.  A costume is considered any clothing that is worn to specifically be referenced or to immediately enhance a poem.  (i.e. Doing a poem about Wu-Tang Clan while wearing a Wu-Tang Clan shirt, referencing any specific item of clothing being worn by that poet, etc.)


The top 3 poets will receive a prize specific to their finishing position.

3rd place - A creative writing utensil

2nd place - Comic book or superhero themed prize

1st place - A prize that celebrates creativity

Youth Slam Team Selection:

​BreatheINK determines the poets to reach the Grand Slam Finals by their final place in the preliminary slam series.  The top two scoring poets from each preliminary slam will automatically qualify for the Grand Slam Finals.  Once a poet has qualified they are no longer required to participate in any other slams before the Grand Slam Finals.


The top 12 qualifying poets from will compete against each other at the Grand Slam Finals in April.  The top 6 poets at the end of the 2nd round will represent Charlotte, NC as the Charlotte Youth Poetry Slam Team at the Brave New Voices Youth Poetry Festival.  The 3rd round will be used to determine the BreatheINK Youth Poetry Grand Slam Champion.

**These rules can be changed at the discretion of the BreatheINK Youth Poetry Initiative staff.  Any changes will be posted on this website and our Facebook page.**