Sedona Poetry Slam

What is Poetry Slam?

Poetry slam is a competitive artistic sport. Marc Smith “So What?” founded the first poetry slam at the Get Me High Lounge in Chicago in November 1984. In July 1986, he moved the slam The Green Mill Lounge, where it has remained on Sunday nights ever since.

Poetry slams are judged by five randomly chosen members of the audience who assign numerical value to individual poets’ contents and performances, ranging from 0.0 to 10.0. Poets perform three poems over three rounds. Each performance is allotted three minutes, plus a 10 second grace period.

Poetry slam has become an international artistic sport, with more than 100 major poetry slams in the United States, Canada, Australia and Western Europe.

The Green Mill Lounge remains the Mecca of slam poets.

Sedona Poetry Slam

Sedona Poetry SlamChristopher Fox Graham founded the Sedona Poetry Slam in 2009.

All poets are welcome to compete for the $75 grand prize and $25 second-place prize. The prize is funded in part by a donation from Verde Valley poetry supporter Jeanne Freeland.

The slam season culminates in May with the selection of Sedona’s National Poetry Slam Team, the foursome and an alternate who will represent the city at the National Poetry Slam in August.

Sedona sent its five-poet first team to the 2012 National Poetry Slam in Charlotte, N.C.

The first Sedona National Poetry Slam Team consisted of Tyler Sirvinskas, Josh Wiss, Evan Dissinger, Frank O’Brien and Spencer Troth.

For the next slam, click here.

To see results from past slams, click here.

Sedona Poetry Slam Rules

Studio-Live-LogoThe Sedona Poetry Slam takes place at Studio Live, home of the Sedona Performing Arts Alliance. Studio Live is located at 215 Coffee Pot Drive, West Sedona.

To compete in the slam, poets need at least three original poems, each three minutes long or shorter. All types of poetry are welcome on the stage, from street-wise hip-hop and narrative performance poems, to political rants and introspective confessionals. Any poem is a “slam” poem if performed in a competition.

  • All poets get 3 minutes per round.
  • Poets get a 10-second grace period after 3 minutes.
  • 0.5 points are deducted for every 10 seconds after 3:10 (A poem that runs 3:37 would lose 1.5 points).
  • No props.
  • No costumes.
  • No musical accompaniment.
  • All types of poetry are welcome.
  • Poems need not be in English
  • Judges are chosen randomly, although we do try to have a balance of ages, genders

Contact Christopher Fox Graham at to sign up to slam.

For the 2012-2013 season, tickets are $10 in advance and $12 the day of the event, available online at For more information, call (928) 282-2688.

Sedona Participation Point System

Competing poets earn points with each Sedona Poetry Slam performance between September and May. Every poet earns 1 point for performing, featuring or hosting. Poets who calibrate (starting the slam) or sorbet (reading between rounds) earn one-half point. First place earns 3 additional points, second place earns 2 and third place earns 1.

Based on points, the top 12 poets in May are eligible to compete at the Sedona Grand Poetry Slam for the four slots on the Sedona Poetry Slam Team, which will represent the community and Studio Live at the 2013 National Poetry Slam in Boston.

The poet with the high points go last in the Grand Poetry Slam, second-highest goes 11th, etc., so participating in regular slams benefits poets who really want to make the team. Poets with same number of participation points will draw straws for their order.

Poets can compete for multiple teams from other regions in Arizona and nationwide during a season and still be eligible to compete in the Sedona team.

Current standings can be found here.

Poetry Slam Inc.

poetryslamincEstablished in 1997, Poetry Slam Inc. is the official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization charged with overseeing the international coalition of poetry slams.

PSI doesn’t run any individual slam, but rather is responsible for making poetry slam more visible and accessible to the world via its flagship events:

  • National Poetry Slam, first held in 1990. NPS is held annually in August.
  • Individual World Poetry Slam, which was split from NPS in 2005. iWPS is held annually in October
  • Women of the World Poetry Slam, which began in 2008. WOWps is held annually in March.

One Response to Sedona Poetry Slam

  1. Molly Shaheen says:

    My name is Molly, and until recently I have been traveling around the country by van. I am from the state of Maine, and have now found a second home; Sedona. Yay!
    Anyway, I am a poet, and am VERY interested in participating in the next slam. Was wondering how I could get started! Many blessings, and thank-yous.

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