Guelph Spoken Word Presents

OIPS 2016

September 10, 2016

River Run Centre

Guelph, Ontario



What is a poetry slam?

A poetry slam is a competitive spoken word/poetry event that emphasises both the writing and performance of the poem. Poets compete against one another for bragging rights and peer acclaim ... and, in the case of the Ontario International Poetry Slam, BIG prize money. Each poem performed must be less than approximately 3 minutes long or time penalties are applied (see the Rules for more information).

Who is hosting and organising the Ontario International Poetry Slam?

Guelph Spoken Word organises and hosts OIPS. Unlike other major poetry events, OIPS will not move to different host cities each year; this event will remain in Guelph for the foreseeable future. Mark MacKinnon is the Creative Director for OIPS 2016 and chair of the organising committee that consists of Danielle Workman, Beth Shepard, and Truth Is ....

If I am competing, how many poems do I need?

Maximum of 5. Every poet will perform one poem of round 1 of his or her preliminary bout. The top 8 poets from round 1 will advance to round 2 and perform another poem. Then the top 3 poets from each preliminary bout will advance to the finals where they will perform one poem in the round 1. The top 6 poets from round 1 will advance to round 2 and perform another poem. The top 4 poets will then advance to the final round 3 to perform a final fifth poem. No poems can be repeated at OIPS and thus every poet should have at least five poems ready to go.

What are the basic slam rules of OIPS?

Full rules are available on the Rules page, but the basics are as follows:

  1. Poets must perform their own work.

  2. No props are allowed during the performance.

  3. Each poem must be less than 3 minutes (plus a 10 second grace period) or point deductions will apply.

  4. 7 judges assign a score to each poem from 0 to 10. The top two and bottom two judging scores are discarded, giving a summed score total out of 30.

  5. Poets with the highest scores may be advanced to the next round or next bout as determined by the Rules.

What makes OIPS different from other big slams?

We think any poetry slam is good for the audience and artists. That said, we created and organised OIPS to have several distinct features that we believe will take slam to a higher level:

  1. MONEY: Unlike many other large slams, the HUGE cash prizes are a driving force behind OIPS - $5,000 - giving OIPS one of the largest cash prizes in the history of open slam!

  2. VENUE: The River Run Centre is the premier performing arts centre in Guelph, constructed in 1995 for $15 million. With separate halls and a great reception area, OIPS will be displayed to Guelph and the world as a top-tier professional artistic event. The additional exposure and quality the River Run Centre provides will result in substantial benefits for OIPS poets and the growing poetry slam movement in Canada as a whole.

  3. RULES: To create more drama, suspense, and excitement for each slam, OIPS will use secret as well as public judging to score poets. We’ve all been to events where the audience knows the winner of the slam and ranking of poets before they are even announced by the MC because scores are usually public; the thrill of the proclamation is gone. The OIPS blend of public and private scoring will keep the question “So who won?” in the minds of everyone until the final results are announced. Additionally, using seven judges for each bout instead of the standard five will help normalise even unintentional scoring bias and inconsistencies.

  4. INTENSITY: We are packing four preliminary bouts and one final bout into a single day, promising an intensive and immersive poetry slam unlike any other. The compact schedule not only encourages more participation by reducing conflicts with “real life,” but also helps keep accommodation and related costs down for competitors and audience members.

  5. PATRONAGE: The OIPS “I $UPPORT POETRY” patronage campaign for competitors was designed to foster community awareness for their poetic efforts, while at the same time helping poets offset their registration costs. We believe that your friends, family, and the general public want to contribute to the arts in a personal and meaningful way, and our $15 “thank you” buttons gives poets the tools to help facilitate this.

Is the poetry performed at OIPS appropriate for all ages?

There are no age restrictions for admission to OIPS. That said, some poems may include vulgarity, mature content, thematic elements, or nudity that some parents/guardians may deem inappropriate for younger audiences. There are no guidelines regarding the content or language of any poems that the poets must follow.

How much is the prize money?

The total prize pool for the slam is $5,000. First prize is $3,000, second prize is $1,500, and third prize is $500. Should attendance and ticket sales exceed projections, though, prize money may be increased at the discretion of Guelph Spoken Word. We’d love to give out even more cash to poets, so help spread the word to sell tickets!

Do registered poets need to also buy an admission ticket?

No, the $150 poet registration fee also serves as an all-day audience pass to all bouts, even if the poet is eliminated in the preliminary bouts. No additional ticket is needed.