4th Fridays at Busboys & Poets Takoma Park

Yes, the dress code is Pajamas please keep it tasteful.

Slam rules:

  • There will be THREE themed rounds of poetry with a maximum of 10 participating poets
    • Cupid Ain’t Shit
    • Love is Grand (Love Poem)
    • Freak me baby (Erotic Round)
  • Cuts for each round will be determined the day of the slam (dependent upon the number of participants)
  • Poets will draw numbers at random to determine the order (see below)
  • 5 Judges will be selected randomly from the audience (see below) and may include a special guest judge deemed by the host.
  • After a sacrificial poet performs (to gauge the judging) judges will score each poet on a scale of 0-10 using decimal places to avoid a tie (ex: 4.7, 9.3, 7.1).
  • The highest and lowest of the five scores will be tossed and the three MIDDLE scores added to calculate the poet’s score for the round (maximum of 30 pts).
  • Based on how the rounds are cut, the scores will be used to determine poet order for the second and third round


  • The slam will work in accordance with PSI rules
  • Each poem must be of the poet’s own construction.
  • Each poet gets five minutes (plus a ten-second grace period) to read one poem; if the poet goes over, points will be deducted from the total score.
  • A poet’s time begins as soon as they say anything on stage or engage the audience in any way.
  • The poet may NOT use props, costumes, or musical instruments. This includes the removal of clothing.
  • The Slam is open to all 21 and up.
  • The poem, unless specified by the theme, can only be performed by one person.
  • Poets are ALLOWED to read from paper and for THIS slam allowed to use electronic devices such as laptops or cell phones. There will be no point penalty assessed unless it’s used as a PROP (as outlined)


Sign up

Poets may sign up for the poetry slam starting at TIME and not before.

Sign up is closed once the maximum number of poets sign up, or once the order is drawn for the slam.

The Draw will happen at a pre-determined time shortly before the slam. (We will be flexible in cases of inclement weather.) If you signed up and are not there to draw, it will be up to your competitors to decide if you will take the “one-slot” or if you will forfeit your slot altogether- MAJORITY RULE. (Just don’t disappear before the draw- we won’t re-draw for you.)


Poets performing poems, not of their own construction will be disqualified from the event no matter the score. If the poet is later vindicated, management will return that person’s entry fee only.

Poets who go over time will be penalized one-half point (.5) for every 10 seconds they go past 3:10. The penalty begins at 3:10.1.

3:10 flat and under – no penalty

3:10.1 – 3:19 -0.5 point

3:20 – 3:29 -1.0

3:30 – 3:39 -1.5

3:40 – 3:49 -2.0

… and so on [-0.5 for every 10 seconds over 3:10]

at 5:00 minutes the poet’s score will be calculated but the poet will be disqualified from further participation in that bout.

If a poet is found to have used props or refer to their clothing and/or accessories, or remove any of these items in any way to enhance their performance of a poem, the poet’s score will be calculated but the poet will be disqualified from further participation in that bout.

In addition, any poets performing material deemed offensive such as racist, homophobic, pedophilic, or threatening to the well-being of others will be interrupted, removed from the stage, and disqualified and their performance will not be scored. The management will not provide protection for your views in the venue or off-site. Freedom of Speech comes with some catches.