Poetry‎ > ‎

Poetry Slam

What is Poetry Slam?

56 seconds

YouTube Video


Parks and Recreation pokes fun at Slam Poetry
17 seconds

YouTube Video


Making a TED-Ed Lesson: Two ways to animate slam poetry

5:24 minutes

YouTube Video


Become a slam poet in five steps - Gayle Danley

3:31 minutes

YouTube Video

                                  By: Ammon Warnick
PJHS Poetry Slam,, First Place, 2011-2012 

This is a poem for the people
This is for the people that never thought  to think
This is for the people that thought they could but were too afraid to try
This is for the people that walk for miles and miles but never stop
This is for the people that think they are weak but are strong
This is for the people that brush the first artwork ever made
This is for the people that invent technology
This is for the people that did the impossible
This is for the people that had no limits
This is for the people that did the undone
This is for the people that thought the unthinkable
This is for the people
Because every one here are people
This is for the people that breath that first breath
This is for the people that make the buzzer beater
This is for the people that score the winning goal
This is for the people that loved that was never loved
It doesn't matter if your Michael Jordan or the bullied kid at school
It doesn't matter because we are all people
Nothing can change that
We are  all the same
This is for the people that die for others
This is for the people that make differences
This is for the people that start but never quit
This is for the people that can change the world
Because all of us can change the world
This is a poem for the people

Slamming — bad for doors, good for poetry?  Slamming — bad for doors, good for poetry?

The Daily Herald, Provo, Utah

May 08, 2013 

Dramatic flair, emotion and humor were brought to the stage in Nebo School District's first Poetry Slam on Tuesday night. The top student poets from Payson, Spanish Fork and Salem junior high Schools participated in the event. Students "slammed" at least 12 lines or more of memorized original or existing poetry. To "slam," the poets presented the verse with dramatic flair, using emotion, humor and body language to tell the story of the poem.

"Think of it as literature meets the dramatic arts," said Brad Dayton, Salem Jr. High English teacher and organizer of the poetry slam. "Slam poetry is to regular poetry as rock 'n' roll is to classical music. The slam is an excellent opportunity for students to showcase their talents."

Prizes were awarded to the best overall poets.  

Each teacher spent about a month introducing students to slam poetry prior to the school's slam. Teachers prepared students by showing them clips of famous slam poets like Taylor Mali, Sarah Kay, Eric Darby and Marshall "Soulful" Jones. Students created and practiced recitations of their poem, and then competed at schoolwide slams, consisting of more than 100 students. Aidan Dayton, winner of Salem Jr. High's poetry slam, recited "What Teachers Make" by Taylor Mali.

"I love slam poetry because it is fun and exciting," said Aidan Dayton, who beat out 99 students. "It is one of the highlights of my year."

Four girls from Salem Jr. High, Isabella Lewis, Kaitlyn Thacker, Madisen Hansen and Ashlynne Todhunter, memorized all seven minutes of "To This Day" by Canadian slam poet Shane Koyczan.

Brad Dayton started the slam while interning at Payson Jr. High three years ago.

"Teaching poetry through slam is a way to get my students excited about the power of poetry," he said.

Though Dayton intended to hold the slam solely among his own students, other teachers expressed an interest and it spread throughout the school.

"The first slam was held in the Payson Jr. library, without air conditioning, in late May 2010. Despite all the sweating and cramped quarters, it was a huge success," Brad Dayton said.

The following year, Dayton got a job at Spanish Fork Jr. High, spreading slam fever in Spanish Fork. In 2012, Dayton transferred to the new Salem Jr. High, where naturally, he introduced slam poetry. All three junior highs adapted the poetry slams in Dayton's wake and this is the first year for the district competition. Teachers Rillene Nielson from Spanish Fork and Leanne Hoffman from Payson helped organize the district slam.

Daniell Corbett, a student at Payson Jr. High, slammed an original poem entitled "Everyone Deserves a Chance." The poem is about people who are under- or overestimated who deserve a chance.

"Slam is a lot of fun," Corbett said. "I like being on stage or speaking in public."

The top 20 to 30 students from each school got a T-shirt at the event. Teachers and local writers judged the event. Though there isn't a state or national slam, there is a high school national poetry competition called Poetry Out Loud for high school students.

"Students get excited about slam poetry because the messages are usually more relevant to what they are going through, and the performance element is usually quite exciting," Dayton said. "I have had students who couldn't be bothered with anything English related before slam poetry memorize a four-minute poem and passionately perform it for their peers. Every year I get at least one student who struggles with the traditional elements of English class who will blow their peers' minds with an amazing poem. It is truly an amazing thing. But we can't really take much of the credit. Give them a room and a microphone and the students perform the magic."

Slamming — bad for doors, good for poetry?

Slamming — bad for doors, good for poetry?

Pretty by Katie Makkai

Presented by Emma Spencer
Nebo School District Poetry Slam, First Place 20012-2013

When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, “What will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? What comes next? Oh right, will I be rich?” Which is almost pretty depending on where you shop. And the pretty question infects from conception, passing blood and breath into cells. The word hangs from our mothers' hearts in a shrill fluorescent floodlight of worry.

“Will I be wanted? Worthy? Pretty?” But puberty left me this funhouse mirror dryad: teeth set at science fiction angles, crooked nose, face donkey-long and pox-marked where the hormones went finger-painting. My poor mother.

“How could this happen? You'll have porcelain skin as soon as we can see a dermatologist. You sucked your thumb. That's why your teeth look like that! You were hit in the face with a Frisbee when you were 6. Otherwise your nose would have been just fine!

“Don't worry. We'll get it fixed!” She would say, grasping my face, twisting it this way and that, as if it were a cabbage she might buy.

But this is not about her. Not her fault. She, too, was raised to believe the greatest asset she could bestow upon her awkward little girl was a marketable facade. By 16, I was pickled with ointments, medications, peroxides. Teeth corralled into steel prongs. Laying in a hospital bed, face packed with gauze, cushioning the brand new nose the surgeon had carved.

Belly gorged on 2 pints of my blood I had swallowed under anesthesia, and every convulsive twist of my gut like my body screaming at me from the inside out, “What did you let them do to you!”

All the while this never-ending chorus droning on and on, like the IV needle dripping liquid beauty into my blood. “Will I be pretty? Will I be pretty? Like my mother, unwrapping the gift wrap to reveal the bouquet of daughter her $10,000 bought her? Pretty? Pretty.”

And now, I have not seen my own face for 10 years. I have not seen my own face in 10 years, but this is not about me.

This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl 30 stores in 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven't a clue where to find fulfillment or how wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath those 2 pretty syllables.

About men wallowing on bar stools, drearily practicing attraction and everyone who will drift home tonight, crest-fallen because not enough strangers found you suitable.

This, this is about my own some-day daughter. When you approach me, already stung-stayed with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty? Will I be pretty?” I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer, “No! The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in five letters.

“You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you, will never be merely 'pretty'.”

Nebo School District Poetry Slam Rubric

Student Name:___________________________ Original: YES   NO      Poem #__________

Poem Title:_______________________________________  Author ____________________

Interpretation Rate on a scale of 1-5; 1=Poor, 5= Excellent


1. The poet’s energy, body movement, facial expressions, and gestures are consistent with and enhance the ideas and mood of the poem.


Performance (Rate on a scale of 1-5; 1=Poor, 5= Excellent)

2. The poet speaks clearly and projects their voice.


3.  The poet has memorized his/her poem. (must be memorized to meet criteria)




BONUS: If the poem was written by the student, give them bonus points.

1= Original but pretty awful

2= Original and O.K.

3= Original and good

4= Original and exceptional

5= Original and destined to be a classic

Bonus Points Earned


                                                                          GRAND TOTAL


Judge’s Notes:

YouTube Video

YouTube Video