The 2018 qualification period is now open (May 2017 through January 2018). To see who has already qualified to try out for the 2018 Boston Poetry Slam Team, click here.
Rules for the Team Selection Slams are generally the same from year to year. Prelims take place in two separate pools over two rounds. Semis is two rounds long and Finals lasts three rounds. There is no elimination between rounds on any night. Poets must have seven unique poems (not counting one tie-breaker, if necessary) to make the team, including one poem that has never before been performed at the open mic or slam at the Boston Poetry Slam at the Cantab Lounge. Note that the number of rounds and advancing poets are subject to change, depending on National Poetry Slam team size and competitor attendance at the preliminaries. Complete rules for the Team Selection Slams follow.
Cantab Team Selection Slam Rules (all three nights)
- Only qualified poets listed on the website may slam.
- Poets who wish to slam will check in to draw no later than 9:00 p.m.
- Poets will have to pay the cover charge.
- Competing poets may not read in or host any portion of the open mic or slam.
- Competing poets may not work the door, wait tables, or bartend.
- Five judges (or teams of judges) will be selected from the audience by the slam host and bout manager. Up to two of these judges may be Cantab “regulars” as per the discretion of the slam host and bout manager. All judges will be encouraged to choose poetry over performance.
- Scores are not cumulative between nights; each night is clean slate.
- There will always be at least one warm-up poet before the slam. Whether or not there is a break and/or sorbet poet between rounds of the slam will be left to the discretion of the host and bout manager.
- All NPS rules apply: original work, no props, no costumes, no music. The time limit is 3:00 with a 10-second grace period.
- NEW FOR 2013: During the course of the three-night series, competitors must present at least one poem that has never before been performed at the open mic or slam at the Boston Poetry Slam @ the Cantab Lounge. This “new” poem may be performed in any round at any time; there is no upper limit on new poems performed. Poets failing to meet this requirement by the end of the seventh round will be disqualified. Final ruling on what constitutes a “new” poem will come from the SlamMaster (unless the SM is in the slam, in which case it will come from the bout manager). To discourage confusion, poets are encouraged to self-report their “new” poem to the scorekeeper or bout manager immediately after performing.
- All poets who have qualified to slam, even those who do not intend to represent the venue at NPS, are encouraged to slam.
- NEW FOR 2015: Assuming at least 16 qualified poets, competitors will select one of two preliminaries to slam in via Yankee Swap.
- Before the slam begins, poets will draw a random order for both rounds.
- Poets may use any original poem in their repertoire in any round, including poems used in previous open slams and poems used to qualify in previous years.
- The top six cumulative scorers in each prelim will advance to finals the following week. If there is a tie for the last spot in the prelim to advance, all tied poets will advance.
- Poets who have qualified to slam but do not intend to represent the venue at NPS are encouraged (although not required) to drop out to permit the next poet from preliminaries to advance.
- The order of the first round will be based on the cumulative finish from preliminaries (lowest finisher first, top-scoring poet last, with ties broken by 1. Yankee Swap standings and 2. draw in the prelim slam). The order for the second round will be by random draw conducted before the bout.
- Poets may not use poems they used in the previous week’s preliminaries.
- The top nine cumulative scorers will advance to finals the following week. If there is a tie for the last spot to advance, all tied poets will advance.
- Poets who slam in the finals are considered committed to the venue’s slam team. Poets who are not interested in representing the Boston Poetry Slam at NPS may not slam in finals.
- The order of the first round will be based on the cumulative finish from semi-finals (lowest finisher first, top-scoring poet last). The order for the second and third rounds will be by random draw before the bout.
- Poets may not use poems they used in the previous weeks’ preliminaries or semi-final.
- The top five scorers (cumulative over all three rounds) comprise the Boston Poetry Slam Team.
- If there is a tie for the fifth slot, all tied poets will return to the stage for one more round. The order will be the same as the last round. Standard NPS tie-breaker rules will be used (each judge will indicate a preference, not a score).
Team Selection Preliminaries Rules and Format
Team Selection Semi-Finals Rules and Format
Team Selection Finals Rules and Format
The following is expected of poets who qualify for the Boston Poetry Slam Team:
- Attendance at the National Poetry Slam of that calendar year, assuming the Boston Poetry Slam @ the Cantab Lounge is qualified to attend.
- Financial responsibility for travel and stay at NPS (beyond whatever the team and venue are able to raise), assuming attendance.
- Open mic attendance at the venue 2-4 times per month.
- Practice with the team at least 2-4 times per month.
- Respect and support of teammates, coach, and home venue.
If a team member is unable to fulfill these responsibilities, or the poet declares a desire to depart the team and/or slam for another team, the poet will no longer be considered a member of the Boston Poetry Slam Team for the purposes of Poetry Slam, Inc.
If a team member departs, but the team is still at the minimum size for NPS competition, the remaining team members will decide if they wish to replace the team member via the posted replacement hierarchy, with final discretion falling to the SlamMaster. If the departure of one or more team members causes the team to be under the minimum size for NPS competition, the team member(s) will automatically be replaced until the team reaches minimum size.
In all cases, the replacement hierarchy for a team member is as follows:
- The next available top scorer(s) in the Team Selection Finals.
- The current Champion of Champions of the 8×8 series.
- The top scorer(s) in an open poetry slam held exclusively for the purpose of choosing a new team member (or members), if time and venue constraints allow.
- The next available top scorer(s) in the Team Selection Semi-Finals.
- The next available top scorer(s) in the Team Selection Preliminaries.
- The next available least recent winner(s) of the open poetry slam since the Team Selection Slams.
- Open vote among all interested parties, wherein said parties may not vote for themselves. Ties will be broken by the vote of the SlamMaster.