Welcome! Whether you’re a first-time performer or a spoken word aficionado, now is the time to get your two-minute masterpieces together, to help us make the 2023 Bellingen Poetry Slam as fabulous as it always is.

Feel the adrenaline. Move us. Amuse us. And two hundred or so other people in the marquee with us.

Yes, this year we are at the Bellingen Showgrounds again!

I reserve the right to alter everything which follows in the very unlikely event that we need to, in order to prioritise creating a great, safe night for the audience.  I will do my best to tell you straight away.

Any questions, poetryslambrwf@gmail.com, or if its super urgent, 0438 609 097

Thanks, and good luck!
Jason John (MC and event organiser)

Sign up!

Ok, so the first thing to do, if you read these rules and are keen, is sign up.  It’s free!

You will either get a ticket, or be put on the wait-list.  

I’ll also put you on the mailing list for updates about the slam, and other performance opportunities in the area. You can unsubscribe but it will be the official communication channel before the slam.

If you show up on the night and want to perform last minute, find me and tell me, and you will still need to sign up on the online form. Based on previous years, your odds of getting to perform last minute are low.

Before the night

We will try to organise a writing, and performing workshop a month or so ahead of the slam.  The email list will let you know.

On the night


It’s a competition, but also a community.  Those of us who weren’t so nervous that we could contemplate food got some together at the food carts before the sign in.  The rest stood around chatting. Gather about 5 if you’re keen.

Sign in

On the evening of the event, all participants*, must sign in between 5pm and 6:30. If you are not signed in by 6:30 your slot may be given to someone else, and you will be wait-listed. Be seated down the front by 7 for a 7:15 sharp start.

*If you’re a GP with a medical emergency or some-such text me before 6:30 and I’ll try to hold your spot.

Mic training

We will have the chance to do a bit of vocal warming up and practise with the mic ahead of the event, at about 6:00. 

Performance rules- some have changed since previous years, so read carefully.

This blog is the ‘source of all truth.’  If it changes, performers will be notified by email, but also check back close to the event.

Two minute poems, your time starts at your very first word, or gesture. If you want to introduce yourself or do some banter, that’s fine, but it counts as part of your two minutes.

We will endavour to ring a bell when you have 10 seconds left, but it may not work and you may not notice it in the heat of the moment, so practice your poems, and aim to make them about 1min45 so you have some time up your sleeve.  

We will have five judges selected from the audience (some might be guest authors), and will count all of their scores.

Out of 50 total, you lose a point at 2:01, and five at 2:10, and 10 at 2:30 (and we cut you off then). We then average you to a score out of 10.

It’s just you and your voice and body language- no costumes, props, instruments (you may wear glasses and a hat to block the lights if you need to). Make sure they aren’t also props though!

The poem must be your original work.

You can’t use a poem which got you through to another round, or won, at a Bellingen Poetry Slam before.

In response to requests, we are going to let pairs perform to see how it goes.  You will probably have to share a mic. You must either both perform, or one person stand there as moral support.  One person can’t be a prop.

Currently we are planning two rounds: twenty performers in the first, ten in the second.

You *do not* automatically lose points for reading your poem, but make sure you know it really well so you can look up a lot.
There will be two rounds.  In the first round there will be no tie-breakers. If 10th & 11th tie, we’ll toss a coin.

In the last round we will do a tie-breaker if need be, so come prepared with at least two poems and preferrably three!

A third or even fourth also helps in case there are six poems before yours about COVID, and you decide to switch it up.

To think about:

There will be no video screens projecting your performance, which is in a BIG marquee.  So, think about how the people down the back are going to see any gestures you may want to make.  Everything might need to be a bit “bigger”.  You don’t need to be louder though, the sound people will take care of that.

We will try to have a lectern for readers, but can’t guarantee it. I’d advise holding your paper anyway. Make the print big enough remembering there may be shadows.  Scrolling on phones is fine, if you trust the tech and have a big enough font.

The process:

We want to keep things rolling, so all poets sit in the front section, or in the row right behind with friends. 

If have mobility issues sit on the aisle if you can. There are steps up to the stage and no ramp.


The prizes:

The winner is poetry. And the audience.

Thanks to our wonderful friends at Kombu some of our performers will win too: First prize, second prize and people’s choice!

The ten performers who make it through to the second round will also receive a code on the night to choose a session of the BRWF to attend for free!


Other things

Judges decisions are final, MCs decisions are even more final, appeals can be made to the chair of the BRWF committee after the event. By performing you grant us the non-exclusive right to record and replay your performance for future publicity. If you don’t want that to happen tell Jason in writing via  poetryslambrwf@gmail.com

The MC reserves the right to tweak things to keep the event as safe and enjoyable for the audience, and then the performers, as possible, and commits to being as fair as possible while doing so.