All slammers who are competing to represent Union Square Slam nationally in 2016 and beyond, at either IWPS, WOWPS, or as part of the Union Square Slam Nationals Team, MUST participate in BOTH a New Shit Slam and a Theme Slam at any point during the slam season.

The 2016 season is from 9/14/15 to 4/28/16. You may compete in any or all of these slams, whether or not you intend to go out for the team. However, preference may be given to competitors that have qualified for Semis or Finals.

Union Square Slam National Competition Qualification Requirements

In order to represent Union Square Slam at any National Competition, you must meet the following requirements:

1) Be 18 years old or older

2) Be an active member of PSI at the time of competition (register at http://www.poetryslam.com and cover your annual registration fee of $20.­­ Questions? Talk to Cecily or the current slam manager.)

3) Read, sign, and adhere to the PSI Code of Conduct.

4) Participate in BOTH one New Shit Slam AND one Theme Slam during the current season (those going for IWPS may complete this requirement during the summer quarter).

Union Square Slam NPS Team Qualification Rules

There are 3 quarters of competitive poetry slams, each culminating in a Semifinal. Each quarter consists of six open slams (one or more of which is a New Shit slam. ­Competition in New Shit slams counts towards your total points!)

Each open slam will consist of up to 8 poet competitors which will ­have a 3 minute time limit with a 10 ­second grace period for each round.

The slam will go from 8 poets in the first round to 5 poets in the second round and 3 poets in the third round. (This is subject to change depending on the number of competitors that night. ­­See below.)

All slams will be scored cumulatively. ­­The winner of the night will have the highest cumulative score from all three rounds.

At the end of each quarter, the poets with the 8 highest cumulative scores FOR THE QUARTER, are invited to compete in Semifinals. If a qualified poet opts out, then the next highest ranking poet qualifies. Semifinals are run using the same rules as the Open Slams. The top two highest ranked poets in each Semifinals bout will advance to Finals Stage, along with the top two winners of the Last Chance slam.

The Last Chance Slam will be INVITATIONAL only to include the top 8 poets who have the highest cumulative scores over the entire season/all three quarters, but who didn’t not otherwise qualify for FINALS.

Finals are Clean Slate. ­­The only competition that will qualify you for the team is this one!!! Finals are run in the same format as Open Mics and Semifinals. The top four poets with the highest cumulative scores make the team.


New Shit is defined as:

1) any piece of work that has not been heard on the USS mic.

2) any work that has been on the USS mic that has been overhauled or edited i.e. at least 50% new material.

We will take up to 8 poets in each New Shit Slam. The points you earn will be added to your total in the quarter (1,2, or 3) and help you in qualifying for that semifinal. Your participation in one New Shit slam, regardless of placement/score, meets your requirement for Final Stage Participation.

New Shit Slams for the 2015-­2016 Union Square Slam season are as follows:

November 9th

January 4th

February 8th

March 28th


We have a variety of Theme Slams, meant to introduce different artistic elements, challenges, and inspiration to our work. Points will be recorded for the sake of naming a “winner”, however, these points do not count towards your total score for the quarter. Your participation in one Theme Slam meets your requirement for Final Stage Participation. All theme slams will take up to 8 competitors, and will be ranked in an 8­,5,­3 cumulative fashion. Each round has a 3 minute time limit unless otherwise stated.

The dates and rules of each slam are listed below:

October 26th: Dead Poets Slam

In honor of All Hallows Eve, the night that the veil is thinnest between ourselves and those who have gone beyond, we add a new twist the idea of a Cover Slam. All competitors must slam the work of a poet (loosely defined, and open to interpretation!) who has passed on. Competitors may select poems all from the same author or from different authors. Each competitor should state the author’s name and the title of the piece before they begin. Time will not start until the poem begins,­­ however, there IS STILL a 3 minute time limit.

November 23rd: Get Free Slam

We all know how the Thanksgiving story is essentially a piece of propaganda used to erase the atrocities of genocide of First Nation people and serves as a reminder of the countless ways our society continues to oppress people along race, gender, sexuality, nationality, ability, class, body image, religion, and ethnic lines. In honor of all the things that have tried to kill us and have failed (praise, Lucille Clifton. Praise), this slam invites you to Get Free. Each poet gets to select a rule to break: either a slam rule (time limit, props, costumes, musical accompaniment, original work) or a social or performance norm rule (sing your poem, move throughout the performance space, request a word from the audience and build your poem around that, etc.), or BOTH!! GET FREE!!

Caveat: We maintain a safe, sane, and consensual artistic space and request that you do as well. Also, please note that even though you can break the time limit rule, know that some of us work at 8 am in the morning and don’t want to resent you for your 20 minute diatribe.

Each poem that purposefully addresses the genocide and subsequent plight of First Nations people and/or decolonization will automatically get an extra point added to their total.

December 28th: Holiday What?

For many of us, the holiday season makes us have ALL THE FEELINGS. Here’s a mic: let’s hear it!!!

Dust off all your odes, rants, gripes, celebrations, durges, toasts, and bones to pick with the holidays and bring them all to us! Or write some new ones! Or make them up on the spot!

January 18th: Say Their Names Slam

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, poems read tonight are in tribute to those murdered by police or vigilantes and the ongoing work towards justice, equality, and freedom.

February 15th: Love and Heartbreak

Bust out your sexy erotica, your heartfelt odes, your vile and anguished break­up lines.

April 25th: Iron Poet Slam

Not for the faint of heart! This slam is meant to push all of its competitors to their artistic and performative limits! Each round has secret rules that will only be revealed to the competitors at the beginning of each round.

(Iron Poet Slam, Love and Heartbreak, and Dead Poets’ Slam are all fashioned after events held at the Seattle Poetry Slam.)


Individual World Poetry Slam (IWPS) and Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWPS)

The WOWPS competition is for women or people living their lives as women (including gender- non­conforming people with a lived experience as women).

There will be four qualifiers: Round time limits are 4 minutes in the first round, 1 minute in the second round, and 2 minutes in the third.

Top two winners of each qualifier will advance to Finals stage FOR THAT SPECIFIC COMPETITION.

Finals: four rounds 4/1/2/3 (8/8/5/3 cumulative)

Our WOWPS 2016 Representative is GABRIELLE SMITH!

IWPS 2016 Qualifiers will be announced in early Spring 2016

General Notes

If there are more than 8 slammers, whoever didn’t get drawn will get an opportunity to be the sacrificial poet and then get priority to slam the following week.

The order will be drawn with all slammers present before the break. Bout manager will officiate the draw while the host finds judges.

The number of poets in each cumulative round will advance as follows:







Repeat rule: If you win a qualifier or open slam, you must have at least ONE NEW PIECE for semi-finals or at IWPS/WOWPS finals. For Team Selection Finals, the no ­repeat rule does not apply.


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