Lake Effect Poetry

Cleveland, Ohio's Poetry Slam Team

Slam Rules

Core slam rules:

Each poet must perform an original piece that they have written themselves.


There is a 3 minute time limit, with a 10 second grace period. At 3:10, there is a one-half (.5) point penalty. At 3:20, there is a one (1) point penalty. 1.5 points at 3:30, and so on.

Poets will be judged by five semi-randomly selected members of the audience. The judges will give a score from zero to ten. A zero is “Dear poet, don’t ever pick up a pen again.” A ten is “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!” The highest and lowest scores are deleted, and the three in the middle are added together for the poet’s final score. In the event that five judges cannot be selected (due to insufficient general audience, ie: everyone is there to compete or is there with someone who is competing) three judges will be selected and all three scores will be kept.


“League” rules:

To qualify to compete in the grand slam or finals for any Lake Effect team or representative position, poets must compete in a minimum of two qualifiers.  To be eligible to win a spot in finals by finishing first in a “Last Chance Slam,” poets must have competed in at least one prior qualifier.

A “NO REPEAT” rule is in effect at all qualifiers.  Once a poet has used a poem at a qualifier, that poet may not use that poem in competition again until finals.

Placing in 1st – 3rd place gets you points accordingly:
1st: 5pts
2nd: 4pts
3rd: 3pts
Everyone else gets 1 point for participating.  Yes, it is possible to finish last in every qualifier slam and have enough points to make finals.  Dedication is every bit as valuable in a team member as an arsenal of high-scoring poems.

Each qualification bout will be one round.

FOR TEAM FINALS:  The top poets after all qualification bouts have been completed will move to finals (the “Grand Slam”) and compete for one of four spots on the team. The number of poets moving on to finals will be set somewhere between 8 and 12, determined by the season’s point spread and number of eligible competitors.  The Grand Slam will be 3 rounds, with points accumulating between each round. No repeats are allowed between the three rounds.

A “Last Chance Slam” may also be scheduled preceding the Grand Slam, in which the winner gains the final spot in the Grand Slam competition.  Poets competing in the Last Chance Slam may not use any poem they competed with in a prior qualifier slam.  The poem used to win the Last Chance Slam may not be repeated in the Grand Slam.

After all three rounds, the following will be announced:
the Grand Slam Champion (first place poet)
the core team (top 4 poets)
the designated Alternate (5th place poet)

If one of the team members resigns, is disqualified, or is otherwise unable to participate at a team competition, the Alternate poet will be asked to take that team member’s place. The Alternate is welcome but will not be required to attend team practices and workshops unless it becomes clear that the alternate will be competing as a core team member.

Team member disqualifications must be put to a vote among the other team members and slamministrator, and must be approved by a majority. Causes for a disqualification vote include: a team member being found to have committed plagiarism; a team member being arrested for a felony, violent crime, or a drug-related charge; a team member showing up at practices, workshops, or team appearances under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and/or a team member acting in any manner that reflects negatively upon the Lake Effect Poetry team and organization.

Three unexcused absences from practices, workshops, and/or other team events will result in a team member’s automatic disqualification. If a team member is unable to attend a practice or workshop, that team member must contact the slamministrator (Vertigo) at least two hours prior to that practice or workshop’s start time.  In the event a team member is unable to attend a practice or workshop in person, arrangements can (and every effort should) be made for that member to attend via a webcam (Google Hangouts) or speakerphone.

Practices will be held on a weekly basis; the day of the week will be determined after team finals so as to best accommodate everyone’s day-job schedules.


Lake Effect Poetry isn’t just a slam team.  We are a community.  Ultimately, we’re a family.  If your only interest in being on a slam team is for your personal gain, then this isn’t the team for you.  Folks who are part of the Lake Effect family support our art form whether they are on this year’s team or not.