Throw! Poetry Collective Rules & Community Guidelines

The Throw! Poetry Collective aims to make our events as safe a space as possible for everyone in attendance. Please help us achieve this by respecting these guidelines.

For those that would like a hard-copy of the rules, you can download, save, and print our .pdf version here.


  • All performers, audience members, and volunteers are expected to refrain from any form of abuse towards others.
  • Bathrooms at all Throw! events are gender neutral, regardless of signage.
  • Spoken word poetry often deals with emotionally intense issues. If you feel triggered or unwell during a performance, feel free to leave the room or reach out to a collective member at any time.
  • If you have problems, questions, or feel uncomfortable with any aspect of a Throw! event, please speak to a collective member. We’re here to help! The host or door person are a good place to start.
  • You can also send a message to our Facebook page or email us at
  • Although we hope to resolve any conflicts within our own community, if you have an issue which you are uncomfortable disclosing to a collective member, you can contact the Spoken Word Canada Anti-Oppression Committee at

Show Format

  1. Each show consists of four (4) open mic slots, one (1) sacrificial poet, twelve (12) slam/competition slots, and a feature performance.
    1. Two (2) open mic slots are reserved for francophone poets but may be filled by anglophone poets if unclaimed by 7:45pm.
  2. Sign up will begin at 7pm at the door on a first come first served basis.
  3. The order of slammers will be chosen by random draw.
    1. This order will be reversed in the second round.
  4. The top five (5) highest scoring poets will perform another piece in the second round.
  5. A sacrificial poet will perform after the open mic, before the slam. They will be scored as if they were competing. Judges will use the sacrifice to calibrate their scores for all subsequent poets.
  6. Poems will be scored by five (5) judges selected from the audience by the host.
    1. When possible the judges will have no affiliation with performing poets and represent a variety of demographics.
    2. Judges will score poets from 0-10 with one decimal point, based on both performance and content.
    3. The highest and lowest scores will be dropped for a total out of 30.
    4. Final scores for the second round will be cumulative, for a total out of 60.

Rules for All Performers

  1. Any type of poetry is welcome.
  2. Memorization is optional.
  3. No hate speech. Hate speech is defined as any speech that attacks, threatens, or insults a person or group on the basis of national origin, ethnicity, colour, religion, gender identity or presentation, sexual orientation, or disability.
    1. If deemed necessary a performer may be removed from the stage by the host for violation of this rule.
  4. Performers may choose to give a content warning before their piece, and WILL be given extra time to do this. Raise a hand, declare the warning, pause, then begin your piece for this allowance to apply.

Open Mic Rules

  1. Open mic performers have up to five (5) minutes to perform.
  2. Cover pieces, costumes, props, musical instruments are allowed, provided they do not require excessive set up time.

Slam Rules

  1. Competitors must have at least two (2) poems prepared to enter the slam.
  2. Original work only. Sampling is allowed.
  3. Poems must be no longer than three (3) minutes. After a ten second grace period, poets will be penalized by 0.5 points per 10 seconds or part thereof. (Eg. A poem running 3:25 minutes would lose one point.)
    1. Time starts as soon as the poet engages the audience in any way, including waving, introducing the poem, making faces, etc.
  4. No props, costumes, or musical instruments.
    1. Any item worn or brought on stage to enhance a poem is a prop/costume. (Eg. putting on a cool hat for a poem about cool hats.)
    2. Gesturing to any object or item of clothing related to the poem is a prop/costume violation. (Eg. putting your hands in your pockets while saying “pockets”.) Poets may refer generally to items they are wearing (Eg. glasses, pants) as long as they don’t gesture towards them at the same time.
    3. Poets may use their own bodies to enhance performance (Eg. touching hair while saying “hair,” beatboxing, dancing etc.)
    4. Reading from a notebook, paper, or phone does not count as a prop unless the performer refers to it in word or gesture during their performance.
    5. Items available to all performers, such as microphones, do not count as props.
    6. Costume or prop violations result in a two (2) point deduction.
  5. Poets may only perform one repeat poem per slam. A repeat is any piece which has been previously performed in the current slam season. Therefore, every poet must have at least one new piece prepared every time they compete. It is up to the poet to decide if they use their new piece in the first round or save it for the possibility of making the second round.
    1. Repeating poems in both rounds of a slam will result in a two (2) point deduction.
    2. After finals in May, all pieces are ‘reset’ as new for the upcoming season.
    3. If a piece has been significantly rewritten it counts as a new piece.
    4. The repeat rule does not apply to finals or the CIPS qualifier slam.
  6. Team pieces are allowed, but must be entered under the name of the primary writer. For pieces written collaboratively, the poets involved must designate one primary writer.
    1. Teams wishing to have more than one name announced must speak to the host before the beginning of the round.
    2. The primary writer may perform either a solo piece or a second team piece in the other round of the slam.
    3. Poets performing in a team piece under someone else’s name may also enter the slam under their own name.
    4. Only the primary writer will accumulate points towards finals qualification.
    5. No team pieces are allowed in finals or the CIPS qualifier.
    6. Team Pieces may include up to five (5) people.
  7. In the case of a tie, the poet with the highest scoring poem of the night wins.

Finals and Team Qualification

  1. Twelve (12) poets will qualify for finals each year. Poets must intend to join the team and go to the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (CFSW) in order to compete at finals.
  2. The top five (5) scoring poets in finals will form the team to represent Throw! at CFSW.
  3. A Last Chance Slam will be held the month before finals in which poets who have not yet qualified for finals have priority sign up.
  4. Finals qualification is based on performance during the regular slam season. Points are awarded as follows: participation (1pt), 3rd place (2pt) 2nd place (3pt), 1st place (4pt).
    1. In the case of ties, poets will be ranked in order of their best placement, then second best placement, etc.
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