This document, in its entirety, is the governing document of the spoken word festival known as the “Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival” herein referred to as TGS.

Section 1

Executive Board:

TGS will be controlled and presided over by a committee of recognized organizers known as the Executive Board, herein referred to as the EB.

The EB is comprised of Board Members which are given specific tasks agreed upon by the board. Each member of the EB will adhere to the code of conduct governing the TGS as well as fulfill each of their responsibilities to the best of their ability. Board members may be removed from the board if their duties are not completed to the expectations of the rest of the board. A Festival Director will be appointed, and will be the final say on conflicting matters.

Board Duties:

It is the responsibility of the board to interpret the rules of the TGS. The board will act as both “Scoring Committee” and “Protest Committee.” Each member will cast a vote in the event of a protest.

In the event of a tie, the Tournament Director may have final sway.
Official scoring will be done by no less than three EB members.

If a board member is competing, they do NOT have the right to vote.

Section 2


The judges will be randomly selected by the host & bout manager together. Each judge will be asked if they have an affiliation with ANY competitor (not just the ones in that bout). Each poet will have a chance to approve EACH judge after their appointed check in time. The judge does NOT have to be new to poetry slam. It is encouraged to invite judges who are poets or supporters of the art.


There will be three (3) venues for Prelims and two (2) for Semis. The poet allocation for each venue is fourteen (14) at each of the three for Prelims and twelve (12) at each venue for Semis. The top ten (10) performing poets after Semis will move on to Final Stage.

  • Original poet count: 42
  • Poets dismissed after Prelims: 18
  • Poets continuing on to Semis: 24
  • Poets dismissed after Semis: 14
  • Poets continuing on to Final Stage: 10


Venue selection will be done by the EB board before the festival. There will be fourteen (14) poets competing at each venue for Prelims and  Each poet will be selected randomly and then assigned a random venue. The poet will not be given preference to venue with the exceptions of: Venue age limit, disability access or severe conflict of interest. Exceptions will be ruled on by the EB.

Poets will check in to the venue no later than 45 minutes before the scheduled start time. The poet is acknowledged as “Checked-in” when they have made their presence known to both the host and bout manager. Failure to check in at appointed time may result in loss of competition slot. Registration will not be refunded.


Once every performer is accounted for, the draw for order will begin by the host. The poets will randomly draw their order for first round.

The sacrificial poet will be selected by the host or the bout manager with preference going to members of the host city slam scene.

The performers will be called up one by one, in the designated order, and read a single, three minute poem. After the first round is calculated the second round will continue with the performers reading one minute poems, with the HIGHEST SCORING POET performing first, followed by the SECOND HIGHEST SCORING POET, and so on until all poets have read a second time.

Note: All rounds will be allotted a 10 second grace period.

The lowest six cumulative scored poets will be thanked, and then dismissed from the competition. The remaining eight at each venue will advance to semi-finals.

In the event of a tie for eighth place, an additional “head to head” 1 minute round will commence. The judges will select the winner by voting for one of the participants on their score paddles. Ties in higher positions (e.g. fifth) will not go in a head to head round. 

Score sheets must be filled out completely and signed by each competitor, the host, the bout manager and the score/timekeeper(s). The score sheets will be given to the Board Member in charge of scoring.


The performers that have advanced will compete in Semi-Finals the same night as the preliminary bouts. After each score sheet has been counted, a random placement of the competitors still in the running will commence. The venue placement will be made public and ample time will be given to competitors to arrive. Competitors will check in with the host and bout manager of their assigned bout. Once all competitors are accounted for the Semi-Finals will begin.

The sacrificial poet will be selected by the host, or the bout manager with preference going to members of the host city slam scene.

Once every performer is accounted for, the draw for order will begin. The host will randomly draw the order for the first round and announce them to the performers. The performers will compete in one round of three minute poems. 

The order of the second round of competition will be determined by the first round scores—the scores ranked in descending order. Then, the bout will commence in another 3 minute round.

The bottom seven cumulative scored performers of each semi-final bout will be thanked and then dismissed from the competition. The top five of each semi-final bout will comprise the ten competing finalists.

Note: All rounds come with a 10 second grace period.

In the event of a tie for fifth place, an additional “head to head” 1 minute round will commence. The judges will select the winner by voting for one of the participants on their score paddles.


Performers must check into the venue at least 45 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the bout.

The final stage consists of three rounds of competition. During first and third round, poets will have up to 3 minutes and 10 seconds (3:10) to perform. DURING THE SECOND ROUND, performers will ONLY have 2 minutes and 10 seconds.

As he travels the great state of Texas, fighting injustice, keeping our boarders safe and drinking all the Red Bull he can, it would not be a surprise of Camo Ranger happens upon the TGS. If Camo is present at finals and not busy with other duties, such as being a “Texan’” he will be asked to sacrifice as he is the embodiment of all that is the republic. Otherwise the host/bout manager will use their discretion with first priority going to host city poets.

The order for finals will be RANDOM DRAW. All 10 competitors must draw their own number. After the first round we will eliminate the bottom 4 poets. The top 6 scoring poets from the first round will advance to the second round. The second round order will be highest to lowest scored poet. The bottom 2 scoring poets from the second round will be eliminated. The top 4 scoring poets from just the 2nd round will move on to the third round, where order will be determined by the highest to lowest scored poet from just the second round (non-cumulative).

The highest cumulative scored poets from the Final Stage scores are the winners.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Due to confusion in past years, please note that poets going on to the third round are NOT the highest cumulative scored poets. The second round is a CLEAN SLATE round. You MUST score in the top 4 slots from just the second round to move on to the third round. Cumulative scores ONLY matter for the final round.

In the event of a tie for first, second or third place, an additional “head to head” 1 minute round will commence. The judges will select the winner by voting for one of the participants on their score paddles.

Section 3


Once you have paid in full for registration, you are forfeiting any right to a full refund. If a refund is requested before the poet list has been filled, then half of the registration fee will be refunded. If a refund is requested after the poet list has been filled, no refund will be provided.

Texas Grand Slam, the EB, and Mic Check Poetry have made this stipulation to hedge against the risk of poets dropping out last minute and the festival losing capital. 

Texas Grand Slam, the EB, and Mic Check Poetry understand that life happens. If you believe that your case is of extraordinary circumstances, email the festival director at

Texas Grand Slam reserves the right to deny and/or remove anyone's registration for any reason, at any time, before or during the festival.


The 7 runners up from finals night, or the 4th through 10th place poets will be paid $150. The poets placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the competition will receive the allotted cash prize; however, they will not receive the $150 in addition to the award.

The first through third prizes are as such:

1st Place: $1,200
2nd Place: $600
3rd Place: $300

To be paid no later than two days after the festival, but no earlier than the next morning.

Code of Honor Stipulations:

Every participant, volunteer and organizer of TGS is required to sign the TGS Code of Honor, in order to keep the reputation of the festival in the highest regard. Copies will be distributed to every person involved.

Failure to fill out a Code of Honor will result in denial of active status in the fest.

General TGS Specific Rules

It is the opinion of the creators of this event that the person who becomes champion is indeed the best performer. Texas Grand Slam is meant to be a gauntlet of sorts. The performers are put through the grueling two days and expected not only to be excellent, but follow TGS guidelines to the letter. That being said, there are rules specific to the competition that are much more concise and directive then that of other slams across the country. The new “gauntlet” rules are as such:

  1. No repeats. Period. Even at finals. You must have a body of work to compete.
  2. The penalty for time penalties is as such: For every 10 seconds over the allotted 3:10, the poet will lose 1 full point.
    • The timing of a performer will begin at the first “connection” with the audience. This means first utterance of words, intended noises or body/face gestures towards audience members. This interpretation is at the discretion of the Bout manager and Timekeeper.
  3. “We came for the poetry, but STAYED for the karaoke” rule – no poem is to have more than 30 seconds of noncumulative/consecutive singing. Any infraction will result in a 3 point penalty.
  4. LoCOMOTION rule – Should a competitor’s performance be interrupted beyond a reasonable noise level, happenstance or Texas style riot, the performer will have the right to restart the poem. The performer also has the right to select a different poem if he or she chooses. LoCOMOTION acceptable disturbances include: a loud train going by, fire alarm, police arresting the performer on stage ETC. Non loCOMOTION acceptable disturbances include: Loud audience, microphone cut off or feedback, cell phones ETC.
    • The poet may stop reading if they believe the disturbance is applicable. After the disturbance, they must make their desire for a re-do known to the host BEFORE the next poet goes up. It is at the discretion of the host whether or not the re-do is valid.
    • If the poet chooses to do a new poem, the first poem they performed but did NOT finish is eligible for a repeat in the festival.
  5. Leash Law – the performer must stay ON STAGE during performance. Crowd walks, off stage starts, and endings will result in a loss of placement in that specific bout (ex: A poet who performs a crowd walk who places first, is bumped to second place).
    • Off stage is defined as going outside the designated performance area as specified by the host or venue, outside an elevated stage or moving beyond parameters set at the beginning of the bout.
  6. In the event of ties, the order of performance will be the reverse of the order before it. Example: Poet A and Poet B are tied in round 2, they will perform in reverse order from round one.