Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I sign up? (Tuesdays)

Short answer: Get to the slam around 7:30, sign-up on the stage. Talk to people milling around. Sign-up closes at 7:50pm sharp!!!  Listen for the host to give instructions on the mic.

Long answer: We allow about 13-15 poets into the slam each week.  However, we usually have more than that signup – some weeks might have 25 (or more) people signup.  Therefore, we do a random lottery draw to determine who gets to read that night.  If you don’t get into the slam, you have a guaranteed spot in the next open slam (usually the following week).  We call this getting an “X” for next week’s slam.  Lately, it has become extremely common that signing up one week results in reading the following week… so I guess that’s sort of like registering in advance.
Therefore, you’ll notice that the signup sheet is divided into two sides, one for ‘open signup‘ and one for ‘I have an X from last week’.
Come out and signup before 7:50pm, then stick around for the draw… we try to do the draw around 8pm, so you’ll probably miss it if you’re late.  Listen to what the host says – there are usually two draws, one to get into the slam, and the other for your reading order…  so don’t leave if you draw into the slam.  If you get an X, just come back next week, and you’ll have your guaranteed reading spot.  The only exception is special shows, which don’t have an open signup.  So if you got an X the week before a special show, it would actually be good for the following week.
We have a variety of special shows over the summer and the full schedule is generally posted as Facebook events.


I’m a spoken word artist visiting Austin this week only. I’ve been involved with slam in my city for years. Can I slam with y’all? I heard there’s a long list and a lottery system (as described above)?
Yes, we reserve a limited number of slots a night for out of town poets. If you want to claim one, contact Jomar or another slam council member on Facebook. Jomar and/or the host of the night has the final say on who gets these.


Can I volunteer with Austin Slam?
There are occasional volunteer opportunities that come up.  The best way to get involved is to come out to the show… introduce yourself around to some of the poets and people around… everyone is really friendly!

We almost always need a Timekeeper to assist the Voice of God / Scorekeeper in the booth.  If you were to go up to the VoG and ask to be the Timekeeper, you’ll probably get a positive response 50% of the time. And then you’ll get to meet everyone and have an “in”.

We aren’t currently soliciting new council members, but if you’d like to become our volunteer coordinator to organize events outside of the slam, we’d love to talk to you. We also have need of people to update our online events and submit our show to online calendars.


Can I sacrifice for the slam?

Well… Maybe… You should ask the host that night.  There are lots of reasons people ask to sacrifice.  We’ll go over a few possibilities, and how we’ll respond:

I’ve never slammed before and want to try it out. Can I sacrifice? 
No, probably not. If you’re a new poet, thinking that sacrificing is lower pressure, think again. Sacrificing isn’t easier than slamming. If you’ve never done anything like this before, we highly recommend that you first attend a few open mics. If you just want to dive in, then go ahead and slam. Sacrifices almost always get low scores, and this will be more discouraging than what you might have scored if you went later in the night.

I only have one poem. Can I sacrifice?
No, probably not. Read the answer above and add to it that if you only have one poem,  you should write some more poems, read them in an open mic, and then come back and slam with us.

I’m an out-of-town poet with a lot of slam credentials.  I guess this is a closed quarter-final or semi-final slam huh? Can I sacrifice?
I think so… We can probably fit you in.

I’ve been a big part of the community for years and now I’m moving away unexpectedly.  This is my last week in Austin. Can I sacrifice?
Yes. Definitely. Tell the host.


Is the slam all ages?

The slam is all ages for both poets and competitors. That said, little kids don’t usually have a great time, and a crying baby would ruin the slam.

Please note that the slam is completely uncensored.  Expletives are allowed (and relatively common).  There are also a lot of adult themes covered in the poetry.  The slam is all about total self-expression, and that can mean dredging through a lot of sensitive material.  The nice thing is that if a poet is offending you, they will be done within 3 minutes and if the judges are also offended, they’ll give the poet a low score. We generally recommend 18 and up, unless you’re particularly mature.


Do performing poets have to pay the cover?

Yes. This has been a point of contention not only at APS, but also in the larger scope of poetry slam. It is our belief that poets are audience members as well as performers. The cover we charge allows Austin Poetry Slam to operate at the capacity that it does now:

  • We pay our top 3 (sometimes Top 4) poets at the weekly show, even offering bonus prize money when the show is at capacity
  • We send a team (fully funded) comfortably to Nationals, IWPS, WOWPS, and other regional competitions
  • We pay our featured performers well, allowing us to attract some of the more prestigious performers in Slam
  • We facilitate special events and resources for poets throughout the year
  • We pay the venue
  • We pay our hosts
  • We pay our DJ
  • We pay our door staff, etc.

6 years ago, we were beside ourselves if more than 20 people showed up, and now we are blessed to have a robust audience every week. The cover charge helps us improve the show and the community for all audience members (poets perhaps most of all!). For this reason, we have decided that all audience members, including those who perform, pay upon entry.

Austins Premiere Showcase of Spoken Word and Slam Poetry