Friday, September 21, 2012

Season Standings After Slam #1

Thank You!

Thank you to all the poets who came out and slammed on the 20th, and to everyone who came out to support them!  It was great to see a packed house for our first Slam of the season!  Here are the scores for the night, and then our season standings!

Round 1

Ryefield (Sacrifice): 21.8
Keenan Proud: 25.6
Sara Bartman: 17.9
Kevin Beatty: 23.4
Audrey Cockett: 23.9
Cassidy VB: 23.4
David Trudel: 19.4
Kathleen Miniely: 22.6
Colin B: 20.9
Erin Cotton: 24.4
Tom Fowler: 25.8
Savannah: 27.8
Jacob Arts: 26.1*

Round 2

Savannah: 27.1 - 54.9
Tom Fowler: 20.8 - 46.6
Keenan Proud: 28.3 - 53.9
Erin Cotton: 26.4 - 50.8
Audrey Cockett - 26.8 - 50.7

Season Standings

Savannah - 4 points
Keenan Proud - 2 points
Erin Cotton - 1 point
Audrey Cotton - 0.5 points
Tom Fowler - 0.5 points

See you at the next slam on October 18th!

-Vic Slam

Follow us on twitter: @VicPoetrySlam
SlamMaster's e-mail:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Vic Slam Update #1

Welcome Back!

The first slam of our season happens this Thursday, and if last week's Tongues of Fire is any indication of what to expect, you had better come ready for an energetic night of some of the best Spoken Word Poetry this city has to offer!

If you have taken the time to read the rules posted on this blog earlier, you will have noticed that there are a few new things in store for this Slam season!  The purpose of this post is to help illuminate why certain decisions have been made, how we plan to carry them out, and to announce an exciting addition to our slams!

Season Ends in May

This year our season culminates with two final shows in May.  This is one month earlier than in previous years.  While the number of shows remains the same with the addition of a night of semi-finals, we also understand that this does remove one regular season slam.  That translates to one less chance to boost your standing in the season, and makes the race for a spot in the top 12 tighter. 

This is a double-edged sword. Poets will need to bring their absolute best to each season slam, which can and will make for some powerful nights of performances, but due to the random nature of the name-draw it can make for some frustration should you not be chosen for a night of competition.  More often than not, the randomness balances everything out, and everyone is given a fair shake at competing.  The draw is random, and as a result can't be predicted.  There is always a chance that things won't balance themselves out.  Stranger things have happened. 

The poetry slam in Victoria is growing, especially with so many new, incredible young poets coming up from the high school slams, and youth slam.  It would not be a stretch to say that on most nights, the sign up sheet will exceed 12 poets.  This means that we could be using the random draw more often. 

We will be monitoring the names that are chosen as well as the number, and names of poets that were not drawn.  We will also monitor the frequency of repeat performers, and in the unlikely event that there is a large disparity between the two, adding an extra slam is something we can look at doing.  We will NOT remove the names of poets who have competed multiple times in one season from sign up sheets. The solution we feel that better addresses this potential issue is to add an extra slam, and only if there is a significant number of people who have continually not been drawn to compete.

Another reason we are ending the season a month early is to give the Slam team some additional time for fundraising. Summers in Victoria are chalk full of festivals of different artistic disciplines, and with each pulling for an audience. The potential for added stress due to a team's financial situation can pull focus away from the writing and rehearsing process, which is the most important part of being on the team.

On that note, the extra month provides the Slam Team with more time to rehearse and write, which should help make for stronger representation at CFSW.


This year we have added a semi-final component to our year end competition.  One of the primary reasons we have added this extra night is to further showcase our top poets from the season.  All 12 finalists must perform two poems at Semi-Finals, with no eliminations happening until the night of competition is over, with the announcement of our top 8.  This is a guaranteed extra round for all performers, and another opportunity for our poets, and audience to be exposed to a night of amazing performances.

Another reason for semi-finals is that the competition becomes far more challenging, as poets will need to bring four poems to make the Slam Team, up from needing only two in previous years.

Finally, we feel that adding an extra night of competition makes for a more exciting end to the season, and creates a bigger buzz for Finals night.

No Repeat Rule

All components of the rule itself are laid out in the previous entry.  We have added the rule that poems performed on Semi-Final, and Final stages, may not be performed at future Semi-Final and Final stages, and we will address this aspect in particular here.

This rule was added with the simple goal of trying to further promote the writing of new poems, and to push poets a bit harder each year to write new pieces.  

This rule was not implemented to "fix" an existing problem, as our community is full of fantastic writers, and it's only growing.  We feel this rule simply helps to reinforce that same sense of innovation and creativity that already exists.

Enforcing this rule is primarily honour based, as is the case in many other Slam communities across Canada.  This is not always the best way to enforce rules.  In our experiences here in Victoria however, we have rarely come across infractions when it comes to repeating poems.  The spirit of this rule is adhered to, and everyone holds each other accountable.

That being said, in the very unlikely event that a dispute may arise, we will be recording all performances at Semi-Finals, and Finals, and will reference these recordings should a poet wish to challenge someone's performance of a certain piece.  

This brings us to an exciting new addition to our Slams...

Recorded Performances

Beginning this year, any poet competing at the Slam will have the opportunity to have their performance recorded, and with their permission have their poem uploaded to a YouTube channel dedicated to showcasing Victoria's poets!  This is a fantastic opportunity to not only show your family and friends the work you've been doing, but also provides us the chance to show the rest of the country the amazing poetry that is done in Victoria on a regular basis!

We are thrilled to finally be able to do this, and would ask for your patience as we start this process, and work the kinks out!  A big thanks to the incredibly talented Rose Jang for taking on this responsibility. 

Thank you for taking the time to read through this!  We cannot wait to get this Slam season under way, and are looking forward to seeing all your wonderful faces, and hearing your beautiful words!  

As always, any questions or concerns can be directed to the Slam Master, Scott Thompson at: 

See you at the Slam this Thursday! Happy writing!

-Vic Slam

Follow us on Twitter: @VicPoetrySlam

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Welcome to a new SLAM Season, and Rules of Vic Slam!

Hello everyone!

The new season of Spoken Word Poetry is about to begin in Victoria, with both Tongues of Fire and Vic Slam starting over the next two weeks.  I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you all back, and say how excited we are to get things going!  

I would like to take this chance to provide the rules for the upcoming Slam season here in Victoria.

Victoria Slam Rules for the 2012-2013 Season

These rules apply to the Victoria slam season specifically and to slam events generally. Discrepancies can be brought to the attention of the Slam Master for clarification.

 1) Poems can be on any subject and in any style.

 2 ) Each poet must perform original work that s/he has created.

 3 ) No props. Prop: an object or article of clothing introduced into a performance with the effect of enhancing, illustrating, underscoring, or otherwise augmenting the words of the poem. 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, and audience members - 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 objects.

 4 ) No musical instruments or pre-recorded music.

 5 ) No costumes.

 6 ) Sampling: It is acceptable for a poet to incorporate, imitate, or otherwise "signify" on the words, lyrics, or tune of someone else (commonly called "sampling" in his own work. If he is only riffing off another's words, he should expect only healthy controversy; if on the other hand, he is ripping off their words, he should expect scorn and ridicule.

 7 ) Repeats: Poets may not repeat poems performed during the Vic Slam season at other regular Vic slams during the same season.  Poems are exempt from this rule during Semi-Finals, and Finals, but only once per poem. **BEGINNING IN THE 2012-2013 SEASON**  Any pieces performed at a Vic Slam Semi-Final, and Final may not be performed at any future Vic Slam Semi-Final, or Final stages.

 8) The Three-Minute Rule: No performance should last longer than three minutes. The time begins when the performance begins, which may well be before the first utterance is made. A poet is certainly allowed several full seconds to adjust the microphone and get settled & ready, but as soon as s/he makes a connection with the audience ("Hey look, she's been standing there for 10 seconds and hasn't even moved"), the timekeeper can start the clock. The poet does not have an unlimited amount of "mime time." Poets with ambiguous beginnings & endings to their performances should seek out the timekeeper at each venue to settle on a starting & ending 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]

The announcement of the time penalty 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 overtime until it is too late for them to adjust their scores.

Maximum Time Limit: After four minutes, only the emcee may stop a poet from continuing to perform.

 9) Judging: All efforts shall be made to select five judges who will be fair. Once chosen, the judges will have a private, verbal crash course by the emcee or house manager on the do's and don'ts of poetry slam judging (where they can ask questions).

 10) Scoring: 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 in order to preclude the likelihood of a tie. Each poem will get five scores. The high and the low scores will be dropped and the remaining three scores will be added together.

 11) Emcees: The emcee will announce to the audience each poet's name. They will also require that all judges hold their scores up at the same time and that no judge changes his score after it is up. They are expected to move the show along quickly and keep the audience engaged and interested in the competition. Since they must be completely impartial, any witty banter directed at individual poets, poems, teams, or scores is inappropriate. Even genuine enthusiasm has to be carefully directed. The safest thing to do is encourage the audience to express their own opinions.

 12) Sacrificial Poet: Because no poet wants to go first in the slam, and because some judges, score keepers and time keepers need practice, each slam begins with a "sacrificial poet" or calibration poet. This poet performs a piece and is scored as if they were competing in the slam.

 13) Team Pieces: No team pieces are allowed at regular season slams or the Finals.

 14) Qualifying for the Slam Team: The top 12 poets from the regular season shows (Sept-April) are invited to the Semi-Finals and Finals in May to compete to be on the Victoria Slam Team.

Poets in the second round are given the following points for their standings:
1st- 4 points
2nd- 2 points
3rd- 1 point
4th and 5th – 0.5 points each

Points are added together at the end of the season and the 12 poets with the highest scores are invited to Semi-Finals. If there are not enough poets with scores to fill the spots at Semi-Finals the remaining poets will be determined by averaged cumulative score.

15) **NEW TO THE 2012-2013 SEASON** Semi-Finals: Semi-Finals will consist of the top 12 poets from the regular season,  based off of the current season's point earnings.  Semi-Finals will be two rounds of competition, and ALL 12 POETS compete in BOTH rounds. Scores are cumulative between rounds at semi-finals.  The top 8 Poets move on to compete at Vic Slam Finals.

 16) **NEW TO THE 2012-2013 SEASON** Finals: Finals will consist of the top 8 poets from Semi-Finals.  Scores between Semi-Finals, and Finals will NOT be cumulative.  ALL 8 POETS will compete in BOTH rounds.  After the two rounds are completed, the top 5 poets shall be decided. 1st-4th rankings earn poets a spot on the slam team, while 5th place earns a poet the spot as the team's alternate.

Thank you for taking the time to read over the rules.  If there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to e-mail the Vic Slam Slam Master, Scott Thompson at

Once again, I am very excited for the season to get under way, and can not wait for the poets to take the stage!

Here's to a fantastic year of Slam!

Scott Thompson
Victoria Slam Master