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 2024 Bellingen Poetry Slam as fabulous as it always is.

Feel the adrenaline. Move us. Amuse us. A LOT of us…

Yes, this year we are at MEMORIAL HALL!  Which means we shouldnt have 150 people begging for tickets to come and watch you all, because we can fit them in!  You will be on a big stage, under big lights- woo hoo!

I reserve the right to alter the following information, if necessary, in order to prioritise creating a great, safe night for the audience, and for the performers.  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 for your free performer ticket.  

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 one of the official communication channels before the slam.

Another is the whatsapp group, especialyl useful incase there’s last minute changes. 

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.

AUDIENCE tickets will be available from March 25th, from the BRWF front page.

Before the night

There may be a practice/warm up about a month ahead of the slam, and there are other places you can practice in Coffs and Bellingen if you like.

On the night

If you’re under 18 (or maybe 16, tbc) you’re very welcome to perform, you will need an adult to accompany you and keep you safe.


It’s a competition, but also a community.  We might grab something to eat at the pub next door at about 5, join us if you like!

Sign in

On the evening of the event, all participants, must sign in between 5pm and 6:50. If you are not signed in by 6:50 your slot may be given to someone else, and you will be wait-listed. Be seated on the stage by 7 for a 7:15 sharp start.

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. Highly recommended- working out how the mic sounds as you start your actual poem is not ideal!

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 1min50 so you have some time up your sleeve.  

We will have five judges selected from the audience, and will count the middle three scores.

Out of 30 total, you lose a point at 2:01, and three at 2:10, and we cut off the mic at 2:30. 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 ever before.

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.

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 the same topic, and you decide to switch it up.

To think about:

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 ok, if you trust the tech and have a big enough font, it often makes for a lot of looking down.

The process:

You will all be sitting on stage together, off to the side, because the show is fully booked out, and we need to keep things moving along at a good pace. If you need a support person they can accompany you. 

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!

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 the performers, as possible, and commits to being as fair as possible while doing so.

Thanks so much for contributing to this wonderful event which kicks off the Bellingen Readers Writers Festival!