By competing in the Bigfoot Regional Poetry Slam, I agree:
I understand that verbal harassment, physical aggression, or intolerance are unacceptable in poetry slam.
I will comply with local, state and federal laws, especially those pertaining to individual civil rights and physical or sexual harassment.
I will participate in poetry slam events in a way that encourages, illuminates, and supports established standards of good sportsmanship.
I refuse to allow the competitive challenge of the game to lead me to violence, interference, or direct threats.
I will allow all participants to pursue their craft peacefully and without censure, regardless of present team associations or past personal history.
I will abide by competition rules as defined by the Bigfoot Regional Poetry Slam knowing that the consequences for breaking the rules exist and are upheld. Penalties will be determined by the severity of the infraction by the board of directors for the Bigfoot Regional Poetry Slam.
I understand that if I am found engaging in activities that are contrary to the values and code of conduct stated here, this Code of Conduct will be enforced. If necessary, actions leading to individual suspension or expulsion, or to the suspension or revocation of an entire team, may be initiated to ensure compliance.
The Bigfoot Regional Poetry Slam aims:
1. To provide a poetry event which is open to all people regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle, class, national origin, religion, ethnicity, age, or disability;
2. To create a fair and equitable Poetry Slam while providing leadership which encourages, illuminates, and supports established standards of good-sportsmanship;
3. To provide, to the best of our ability, a professional working environment for all poets and audience members;
4. To provide an atmosphere of mutual support and encouragement in which poets are invited to develop, network, and grow;
5. To provide an atmosphere in which freedom of speech, self-determination, and pursuit of creative excellence is an inalienable right. It is understood that audience members not in competition or affiliated with the venues organization are unregulated;
6. To endeavor to create an environment in which poets are able to pursue their craft peacefully and without censure;
7. To do their best to be a good host by providing necessary local information relevant to guest poets travel, including but not limited to information about local hotels, restaurants, and other points of interest.
Wait list Priority. As registration works in a first-come, first-registered capacity, the wait list will similarly be a list of chronological correspondence showing interest in registering via the official email alias after all registration slots have been filled. Chronology shall be determined by the time stamp show in the email alias inbox used for registration.
These rules originate from the rules set forth for the National Poetry Slam and were revised and tweaked at every SlamMasters’ meeting since the first Chicago National Poetry Slam in 1991. Some debates have been ongoing for more than a decade. Loopholes have continually been closed, and many gray areas have been made either black or white. In the process, new loopholes and gray areas were probably created. But the rulebook was never intended to put an end to the healthy controversy that has always been an integral part of the slam. All we can hope for is to make the playing field as level as our trust in one another will allow. The previous rules acknowledge Taylor Mali as the primary author of these rules beyond the SlamMasters’ Council, who developed and adopted them since.
These rules, along with the Code of Honor, constitute a body of standards by which we agree to engage each other in this game we call Poetry Slam.
Poems and Performance.
1) Poems can be on any subject and in any style.
2) Each poet must perform work that they have created.
3) No props.
-------- Generally, poets are allowed to use their given environment and the accouterments it offers - microphones, mic stands, the stage itself, chairs on stage, a table or bar top, the aisle - as long as these accouterments are available to other competitors as well. Teams or individuals who inadvertently use a prop (for example, a timely yet unwitting grab at a necklace) can be immediately penalized two points if the MC of the bout 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 MC can penalize a poet or team in this way; however, the decision of the MC can be appealed after the bout. Teams or individuals 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 MC, but by a special committee assembled for this purpose.
4) No musical instruments or pre-recorded music.
5) No costumes.
-------- The protest committee may apply a two-point deduction for violation of the costume rules.
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 their own work.
The No Repeat Rule. A poem may be used only once during the entire tournament. This does not apply to day / late night events that are not competitive aspects of the Regional.
The Three-Minute Rule. No performance should last longer than three minutes. The time begins when the performance begins, which may be before the poet begins speaking. A poet is allowed several full seconds to adjust the microphone and get settled and ready, but as soon as they make a connection with the audience (ie. reacting to something that was shouted from the audience, waving, saying something to an audience member, etc.), the timekeeper can start the clock. The timekeeper’s honest opinion is the final deciding factor in when a poem begins. Poets with ambiguous beginnings and endings to their performances should seek out the timekeeper at each venue to settle on a starting & ending time - as long as the times that are agreed upon do not break the spirit of the three minute performance time limit. 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. This penalty shall be equivalent to -0.5 for every 10 seconds over 3:10. This schedule of penalties breaks down to:
3:10 and under has no penalty
3:10:01 - 3:20:00 results in -0.5
3:20:01 - 3:30:00 results in -1.0
3:30:01 - 3:40:00 results in -1.5
3:40:01 - 3:50:00 results in -2.0
3:50:01 - 4:00:00 results in -2.5
The announcement of the time penalty and its consequent deduction will be made by the MC 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 (once 4:00:01 is reached), the MC must stop a poet from continuing to perform.
Finals Stage Time Limit. An additional 10 seconds is permitted in finals without penalty (up to and including 3:20:00). Starting at 3:20:01, a penalty is automatically deducted from each poet’s overall score. For more information, see The Three-Minute Rule.
Influencing the Crowd Pre-Bout. Poets are allowed to talk casually with anyone in the crowd before the bout begins (except the judges, if they have already been chosen). They are not, however, allowed to give anything to the audience or have anyone do this for them. Furthermore, inside the venue (in the presence or within earshot of the audience) they must not act in any way that would make more of an impression than another competitor waiting for the competition to begin. Poets who violate this rule will be given one warning by the MC or Bout Manager. Further violation will result in a two-point penalty for that poet’s score (or their team).
Bout Draw. Teams are asked to arrive at specific times for the draw. One member of the team will be chosen to draw their team’s slot before the bout. A team arriving later than the bout draw will be assigned the A slot. If more than one team arrives late to the draw, they will be assigned the earliest slots based on their arrival time or random draw (if they arrive at the same time).
Rotations. Each bout will have 4 rotations. In every rotation, each team will perform once. Every rotation must represent the work of a different primary author. Refer to Section V (Definitions) for further clarification on primary authorship. No individual poet may perform solo more than once in a bout, except in the case of a tiebreaker. Teams violating this rule will receive a score of zero for the offending rotation.
Team Eligibility. The Bigfoot Regional Poetry Slam is open to poets 18 and older. Teams may be formed in any way the registration fee payer deems appropriate. Should a poet compete with two distinct teams, both of those teams shall be immediately disqualified.
Team Pieces. Duos, trios, quartets, and quintets (otherwise known as team, group, or collaborative pieces) are allowed, even encouraged, so long as all of the primary authors perform them. Refer to Section V (Definitions) for further clarification on primary authorship.
Team Designation. By the end of the registration period, all teams must designate 4 or 5 poets as their team members. Teams may use their poets in any combination allowed by all other rules in their preliminary rounds. There shall be no substitutions for registered team members after the end of the registration period without prior approval of the Tournament Director. Any team violating this rule will be disqualified.
Rules for Team Pieces.
1. A group piece may feature two to five performers.
2. All primary authors of a given poem must take part in the performance of the poem. However, not all performers of a given poem need to claim primary authorship of that poem. In this way, it is possible for one person to claim primary authorship over a three-person performance, and it is also possible for three people to share primary authorship of a three-person group piece. It is not, however, possible for three people to share authorship of a piece with only one performer.
3. Every poet who performs during a bout must be able to claim primary authorship of at least one poem during that bout.
4. By the end of a bout, each team's poem selection must represent at least four primary authors, and each poem must represent a different primary author. If a five-person team wishes to have all of its members perform during a bout, at least one of the four poems performed during the bout must have two or more primary authors, such that all team members are represented.
5. A poet who claims sole authorship of a poem performed in a bout may not claim sole authorship of any other poem during that bout, regardless of the number of performers in either poem, except in the case of a tie breaker. They may, however, share authorship. Teams that violate this rule will receive a score of zero for the offending rotation.
Judging. All efforts shall be made to select five judges who will be fair. Competing poets, coaches, SlamMasters, and any persons who are associated with a specific poet or group of poets are not eligible to judge. Once chosen, the judges will: 1) be given a set of printed instructions on how to judge a poetry slam, 2) have a private, verbal crash course by the MC or Bout Manager on the art of poetry slam judging (where they can ask questions), and 3) hear the standardized Official MC Spiel, 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. Complaints, problems, and/or disagreements regarding the impartiality of the judges should be brought privately to the attention of the MC or Bout Manager BEFORE the bout begins. Having heard and understood the complaint, the Bout Manager or MC will then make a decision (also privately) that cannot be further challenged.
Replacing a Judge. In the event that a judge leaves the bout, a replacement judge will be found and a sorbet poet will be selected to share a poem, which will not be scored, and the bout will continue normally. If there are any judging pairs, the pair will be split to replace the missing judge. The poet affected by the judge’s leaving will have the option to repeat their current poem or use a different one, and the poet will have the ability to repeat the initial poem if they advance to Finals.
Scoring. The judges will give each poem a score from 0.0 to 10.0. 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. Should anyone feel there is a discrepancy between an announced total and the total sum of the three median judge scores, please approach the bout manager between poets or at a break.
Breaking Ties. If at the conclusion of all rotations in a bout a tie exists for first place, each team tied shall be required to send one more poem to the stage. The poem may be performed by any poet or poets on the teams who are tied, but the poem must not have been used in competition previously in this tournament. Judge preference will be used to determine the winner. Each judge will vote for their favorite poem from the tiebreaker round and the poem with the most number of votes wins. Each poem performed in such a circumstance shall be subject to the “no repeat” rule. No ties for higher than first place shall be broken. Normal time penalties apply but will be enforced in the following manner: Instead of a numeric half point penalty per ten seconds over time, one rank will be added for each ten seconds over time. While breaking a four-way tie, this process could result in a second tie. In that case, randomly eliminate the rank of one judge. Ties in the Team Finals are not required to be broken. If a tie for first occurs on Finals night, the Bout Manager will confer with the coach or previously agreed upon representative for each team confidentially. If either of the teams elects to break the tie, the above is the procedure that they will use.
The MC will read the official MC Spiel at the start of each bout. They will announce to the audience each poet’s name and the team they are from. They will also require that all judges hold their scores up at the same time and that no judge changes their 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.
Bout: a competition between two or more teams.
Order: refers to the sequencing of poets during a bout. Teams draw for their spot on a schematic designed to give each team a balanced performance order.
Primary Author(s): the writers/performers whose contributions to a particular group piece are so fundamental that they have at least as much of a right as any other writer/performer of the piece to claim ownership of it at any time. Primary authors must perform their pieces; if a writer/performer is watching other members of their team perform a group piece, then any contributions they might have made to it must not be significant enough to constitute primary authorship.
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. Body parts are not considered props. Tattoos, mobility and other accessibility devices are considered body parts and are therefore not considered props.
Rotation: when each team’s first poet has read in a bout, the first rotation is over. There are as many rotations in a bout as there are opportunities for each team to perform.
Rotation in Prelims: ABCD/CADB/DCBA/BDAC
Round: a complete set of bouts in which every team that is still eligible to compete does so. Eligibility to compete in successive rounds may be contingent upon success in earlier rounds.
Team Piece: a poem performed by two, three, four, or all five members of the same team.
Costume: A costume is any piece of clothing or accessory that is worn on stage which is not part of the poet’s regular street clothing. A costume is worn to enhance the performance. A clear indication of costume would be something that a poet changes into after arriving at the venue specifically for the poem or if the poet wears a camouflage cap to perform a hunting poem and then takes it off to do a poem where the poet doesn’t portray a hunter. Taking off outerwear (coat, jacket, boots, hat, scarf, etc.) should not be considered when determining costuming.
1. Can a team protest if they do not have enough working microphones on stage?
No, technical difficulties cannot be anticipated, nor can they be immediately fixed. For example, if a mic goes out during a performance, it would probably be worse for the performer to have the tech person stop their performance to work on the mic.
2. Can I put a poet on stage who is not a primary author?
YES, a poet can perform in a group piece who is not a primary author of that piece, BUT the poet MUST perform in another rotation as a primary author.
3. Doesn’t that make it harder to strategize?
As MC, it is your job to run the show, and you are therefore responsible for most of the aspects of getting the show going and keeping it successful.
1. Please be at the venue at least an hour before the bout is scheduled to start. Check in with the Bout Manager. The Bout Manager will be certain that all of the volunteers are there and that the sound and light systems are working. The bout Manager will also assist you in all of the aspects of getting the show going and of recording all of the times and scores as you progress.
2. One of your primary tasks (with help from the Bout Manager) is to line up five judges. You should find a fair mix of genders, races, age ranges, people from a variety of places (meaning, if there are some out-of-towners there who are not associated with any team -any team- not just the one’s competing in that bout). Try to line up judges who are sitting in locations spread around the venue, not all bunched up. Please be certain to ask the judges a series of questions that will assure you of their impartiality, such as whether they know or have had relations with any of the poets in this bout. Or what city they are from, or especially if it is a bout that includes a local team, whether they have been to a slam before and if they have a favorite poet who is going to perform in the bout. In other words, please try to get a pool of judges that will be as fair and impartial as possible, with demographics as diverse as the room offers.
3. Introduce yourself to the score/time keepers. Let them know how you like to read off the scores from the judges, low to high, high to low, at random, or most helpful to them if not a problem for you, the three middle scores first, and then the high and the low, so they have the scores they need to add right away.
4. Choose a calibration poet not associated with the tournament. This could be your Bout Manager, a score/time keeper, or another volunteer, but it cannot be you, the MC. It is possible that the host city will have given prior instructions about who to choose.
5. Call representatives of each team to the stage to draw for order of performance. (Draw orders vary from contest to contest.)
6. As you finish the draw with the team representatives, call the judges to the side of the stage for a brief meeting. The team representatives may view the judges at this point to see if there are any concerns. A team may not veto a judge, but may raise an issue to you before the round starts, upon which you should use your best judgment to decide.
7. Be certain that you have the correct pronunciation for each performer’s name, and be mindful not to assume gender pronouns when referring to the performer(s).
8. As you begin the rotation, introduce the judges, the score and timekeepers, and the Bout Manager. Read the Official MC Spiel, and begin with the calibration poet. Be aware that your comments influence the judges (positively or negatively), so stay impartial. If there is a local team in the bout, refer to all teams only by their team letters (the letter they drew at the beginning of the bout to determine their order).
9. Once the poetry begins, please keep yourself in position to see and hear the performance on the stage, as you are the first level of deciding protests that may be raised.
10. If a protest is raised, and the violation, or lack of violation, is clear and obvious to you and the Bout Manager and you have the jurisdiction to rule, you may decide the matter immediately. If there is a violation that calls for a specific penalty in the rules, you may apply it. If there is any question of the validity of the protest, tell the teams involved that the official protest process will be followed and that they should each meet with you at the conclusion of the bout. (Please read the entire protest process info sheet before you get to the bout.) You should then make the following statement from the stage:
MC COMMENT UPON PROTEST BEING RAISED AND NOT RESOLVED WITHIN THE COMPETITION:
“An issue has been raised about one of the poems or performances that you have seen in this bout. The Tournament’s Protest Committee has a process for resolving this issue, and it will not interfere with the remainder of this round. Each of the teams involved in the issue has been told, and they should see me at the conclusion of this bout.
11. Please be familiar with the Protest Process and follow it as well as possible. This is our way of trying to deal fairly with all of the issues and also of keeping the performance of poetry as the most important element of the night.
12. At the conclusion of the bout, please ask the teams to send representative to the stage to sign the Bout Manager’s record of the scores.
13. At the end of the Bout, be certain to collect the markers and cards from the judges.
VIII. NOTES ON BOUT MANAGERS
As Bout Manager, your job is to be the right hand of the MC and to be the official record keeper of the bout.
1. Please be at the venue where you are working at least one hour before the bout is scheduled to begin.
2. Locate the score/time keepers; be sure they are in a workable spot for giving the scores to the MC during the show.
3. Help the MC line up five judges for the bout. You should find a diverse group of genders, races, age ranges, and of people from a variety of places (meaning, if there are some out-of-towners there who are not associated with any team -any team- not just the ones competing in that bout). Finding judge pairs is a great idea - in case a judge needs to be replaced later, splitting the pair is the best immediate option. If no judging pairs are available, refer to the judge replacement rules. Try to line up judges who are sitting in locations spread around the venue, not all bunched up. Please be certain to ask the judges a series of questions that will assure you of their impartiality, such as whether they know or have had relations with any of the poets in this bout. Or what city they are from, or especially if it is a bout that includes a host city team, whether they have been to a slam before and if they have a favorite poet who is going to perform in the bout. In other words, please try to get a pool of judges that will be as fair and impartial as possible.
4. You will receive a packet of the Official Bout Sheets; give one each to the MC, and to the time/scorekeepers. You should be certain you have a spot where you may write down all of the pertinent information as the bout progresses. You need to be certain that each team and each poet’s name is recorded with the appropriate score. If there is a team piece performed in an individual’s slot, the word “GROUP” should appear next to the poet’s name on the bout sheet. If the group spot is not assigned to one individual at the time of the performance, be certain to get that info at the end of the bout.
5. Be at the meetings that the MC has with judges to explain their jobs, and in the meetings the MC has with the team representatives as they draw for performance order.
6. Once the poetry begins, please keep yourself in position to see and hear the performance on the stage, as you are the first level of deciding protests that may be raised.
7. If a protest is raised, and the violation (or lack of violation) is clear and obvious to you and to the MC, you together may decide the matter immediately. If there is a violation that calls for a specific penalty in the rules, you may apply it. If there is any question of the validity of the protest, tell the teams involved that the official protest process will be followed and that they should each meet with you and the MC at the conclusion of the bout.
8. Please be familiar with the Protest Process and follow it as well as possible. This is our way of trying to deal fairly with all of the issues and also of keeping the performance of poetry as the most important element of the night.
10. At the conclusion of the bout, please be certain the team representative signs the Official Bout Sheet with all of the scores and times recorded on it.
11. Also at the end of the bout, collect all of the paperwork from the time/scorekeepers and be sure it coincides with all of the scores that you have recorded.
12. Also at the end of the Bout, be certain to collect the markers and cards from the judges.
13. Please do anything else that would help the bout run smoothly and efficiently.
© 2019 Bigfoot Regional Poetry Slam