2016-17 Season Annual Report



The 2016-17 season reminded us that, perhaps now more than ever, poetry is necessary. At Poetry Slam, Inc. (PSi), it has been our honor to continue to provide a platform for poetry to be seen, felt, and heard all over the world. In 2016, we underwent our first-ever strategic planning process, which included a SWOT analysis, member surveys, and post-event surveys to learn more about the people we serve and how well we are serving them. We adopted a more concise mission statement, grounded the National Poetry Slam in four anchor cities, and continued to focus on our three major performance events meet or exceed member expectations.


In 2015, PSi had over 600 members, and over 100 certified poetry slams throughout the United States and Canada. In 2016, our membership increased to over 800 people, with 113 certified slams. Today, we have nearly 1100 active members! With an increased focus on social media, our Twitter followers increased from 700 in 2014 to 2,200 in 2015, to 4,200 today. Our Facebook fans went from just over 5,000 in late 2014 to 10,000 in 2016 to more than 15,000 today. Our YouTube channel, launched in late 2014, has over 55,000 subscribers and nearly six million views from around the globe, which is not only a new source of revenue for PSi, but has allowed us to expand the audiences for our events and for our poet members.


As we move through the remainder of 2017 and planning for 2018, we continue to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses and strive to offer the best possible programming for our members and audiences. Our tournaments are the most well-recognized performance poetry competitions around the world, and our member poets continue to make PSi the best place for this incredible art form to thrive.


Thank you for your support of PSi, for making this organization the face and voice of slam poetry. We look forward to making more progress together in 2018.






Suzi Q. Smith

Executive Director

Poetry Slam, Inc.








Christopher Michael, President

Jesse Parent, Vice President

Janae Johnson, Secretary

Ashlee Haze, Treasurer

Deonte Osayande, Trustee

John Quiñonez, Trustee

Cecily Schuler, Trustee



Suzi Q. Smith, Executive Director

Geoffrey Jarok, CPA, Financial Manager

Maureen Benson, National Poetry Slam Event Coordinator

Mahogany L. Browne, Women of the World Poetry Slam Event Coordinator

Inkera Oshun, Individual World Poetry Slam Event Coordinator (through 2017)

Candy Zantea, Individual World Poetry Slam Event Coordinator (beginning in 2018)

Johnny Osi, Website Administrator

The mission of Poetry Slam, Inc. (PSi) is to promote the creation and performance of poetry that engages communities and provides a platform for voices to be heard beyond social, cultural, political, and economic barriers.



Founded in 1997, Poetry Slam, Inc. (PSi) is the official 501(c)(3) member-based, non-profit organization charged with overseeing the international coalition of poetry slams, including operating the National Poetry Slam, the Individual World Poetry Slam, and the Women of the World Poetry Slam.


Though slams are maintained in a growing number of cities by local organizers, the vast majority of slams follow the rules established by the governing body, and are certified by the governing body as slams that adhere to the vision founded by slam’s founders. Poets from local communities frequently embark on poetry tours in other slam cities, relying on each other to set up the venues and housing necessary for such tours. Our local organizers are required to uphold our Equal Opportunity policy to receive and maintain their certification. Because of slam’s exponential growth as an art form, PSi has emerged not only as an administrative body to maintain the rules governing slam, but also as an organization that seeks to grow slam’s audience and protect slam’s interests.


The Executive Council, headed by a seven-member group comprised of poets and slam organizers, and voted on by representatives of local slams, maintains a vigilant watch of poetry slam series worldwide, ensuring that slam maintains itself as an art form open to all competitors. Through the certification process and its annual organizational meetings, PSi has created the backbone for a community of poets who are in frequent communication with one another, in order to pool ideas and share creative resources to insure the future growth and recognition of slam. Poets from the community frequently embark on poetry tours in other slam cities, relying on each other to set up the venues and housing necessary for such tours.


While PSi’s main focus in recent years has been the maintenance and growth of its tournaments, the organization is embarking on a series of programs and actions that seek to increase the public awareness of slams. These projects include the maintenance of an official website, the formation of regional competitions, and partnership with academic institutions to provide performing and teaching poets to visit classrooms.



Our vision is a world where all persons have the ability to express themselves creatively through poetry using the power of voice. PSi is an arts organization that works to provide a platform for voices to be heard beyond social, cultural, political, and economic barriers. One of the objectives of Poetry Slam, Inc., is the achievement of building a healthy community that welcomes and embraces the voices of people from all races, colors, genders, sexual orientations, lifestyles, classes, national origins, religions, ethnicities, ages, and abilities. Further, PSi strives to promote networking amongst poets and poetry slam organizers locally, nationally, and Internationally.


PSi teaches and is committed to the principle that dignity, self-esteem, and respect are inalienable rights of every individual. Each member shares the responsibility of preserving the rights of all members and guests in the poetry slam community. PSi charges its members to live up to the expectations of our community and to exemplify the ideals of leadership, friendship, and justice when engaging with others in the poetry slam community, and to hold one another accountable to these expectations.


We exist to give voice to every poem, every passion, and every pressing issue that urgently needs a place for expression, and we endeavor to so build ourselves that we will ever be a credit to PSi and to the art form that is slam poetry. We challenge our members to use their art to inspire courage, hope, creativity and self-empowerment within their communities. We encourage spirited and free speech, both from the performing poets and from the audiences. We charge all of our members with the responsibility to respect other individual’s rights, just as we wish our own to be respected.



As the SlamMaster of an event sanctioned and registered/certified with Poetry Slam, Inc., the SlamMaster and/or his or her assigns agree:


  1. To provide a poetry event which is open to all people regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle, class, national origin, religion, ethnicity, age, or disability;
  2. That Poetry Slam, Inc. will permit a registered venue to serve a specific segment of the population (e.g. an all women Poetry Slam) provided that the organizers demonstrate a need for such an event within that community to PSI, and provided that the municipality or geographical area in question is already represented by a regular Poetry Slam series open to all participants. Exceptions are also made for venues where local laws prohibit minors, or physical characteristics of the building cannot accommodate everyone. Demonstrable effort should be made to provide an opportunity for any legally protected group to participate, where no other local options to participate in a Poetry Slam exist. It is understood that Poetry Slam events which are open to all are given preference in selection for the National Poetry Slam;
  3. That the SlamMaster must provide team members with a National Poetry Slam rulebook before participating in any sanctioned National Poetry Slam event, and encourage team members to read and understand the rules and guidelines;
  4. To create a fair and equitable Poetry Slam while providing leadership which encourages, illuminates and supports established standards of good-sportsmanship;
  5. To provide, to the best of his or her ability, a professional working environment for all poets and audience members;
  6. To provide an atmosphere of mutual support and encouragement in which poets are invited to develop, network and grow;
  7. To provide an atmosphere in which freedom of speech, self-determination, and pursuit of creative excellence is an inalienable right. It is understood that audience members not in competition or affiliated with the venues organization are unregulated;
  8. To endeavor to create an environment in which all poets in good standing with PSI are allowed to pursue their craft peacefully and without censure;
  9. To do his or her best to be a good host by providing necessary local information relevant to his or her guest poets travel, including but not limited to information about local hotels, restaurants and other points of interest;
  10. To agree to comply with local, state and federal laws pertaining to individual civil rights and sexual harassment and to do his or her best to provide a safe environment for all participants. When artistic and creative expression on stage during a performance conflicts with legal statutes regarding physical or sexual harassment, it is understood that the poet may be creatively representing a voice or point of view other than his or her own and is not necessarily espousing the point of view of the poem and the poets rights to creative expression shall remain in effect.








Out Loud HSV Sundays, Huntsville, AL

Montevallo Poetry Slam, Montevallo, AL

Fayetteville Word Wars, Fayetteville, AR

FlagSlam, Flagstaff, AZ

Sedona Poetry Slam, Sedona, AZ

Vancouver Poetry Slam, Vancouver, BC

Berkeley Poetry Slam, Berkeley, CA

Accident Lab, Eureka, CA

Da Poetry Lounge, Los Angeles, CA

Oakland Poetry Slam, Oakland, CA

The Root Slam, Oakland, CA

Sit N Spin (aka: Sac Unified), Sacramento, CA

San Diego PoetrySLAM, San Diego, CA

Alchemy Slam, San Francisco, CA

Lyrical Opposition, San Francisco, CA

Swag Slam, San Francisco, CA

San Jose Poetry Slam, San Jose, CA

The Loud Mouth Poetry Jam, Visalia, CA

Hear, Here! Poetry Slam, Colorado Springs, CO

Mercury Café, Denver, CO

SlamNuba, Denver, CO

Verbal Slap, Bridgeport, CT

Beltway Poetry Slam, Washington, DC

Breaking Bad, DeLand, FL

Dada, Delray Beach, FL

S.A.F.E.! Words! Poetry! Slam!, Orlando, FL

WeSpoke Slam, Tampa, FL

The Speak Tank, Tampa Bay, FL

Art Amok, Atlanta, GA

Java Monkey, Decatur, GA

HawaiiSlam, Honolulu, HI

Boise Poetry Slam-Slam of Steel, Boise, ID

Lethal Poetry, Chicago, IL

Mental Graffiti, Chicago, IL

Uptown Poetry Slam, Chicago, IL

Rockford Certified Slam, Rockford, IL

Eclectic Truth, Baton Rouge, LA

Slam New Orleans, New Orleans, LA


The House Slam, Boston, MA

Boston Poetry Slam, Cambridge, MA

Lizard Lounge Poetry Slam, Cambridge, MA

Mill City Slam, Lowell, MA

Northampton Poetry, Northampton, MA

7HillsSlam, Worcester, MA

Slammageddon, Baltimore, MD

Port Veritas, Portland, ME

Freshwater Wordsmiths, Detroit, MI

Retort United, Grand Rapids, MI

Soap Boxing Poetry Slam, St. Paul, MN

Kansas City Poetry Slam, Kansas City, MO

SlamULIT, Kansas City, MO

The Saint Louis Poetry Slam, Saint Louis, MO

MO Poetry, Slam Springfield, Springfield, MO

Montana Slam, Billings, MT

Respect Da Mic, Charlotte, NC

SlamCharlotte, Charlotte, NC

Jambalaya Soul Slam/Bull City, Durham, NC

Marquis Market, Fayetteville, NC

OM Center Poetry Slam, Omaha, NE

Slam Free or Die, Manchester, NH

Jersey City Slam, Jersey City, NJ

Jersey Shore Poetry Slam, Toms River, NJ

ABQ Slams, Albuquerque, NM

Battle Born Slam, Las Vegas, NV

Nitty Gritty Slam, Albany, NY

Brooklyn Poetry Slam, Brooklyn, NY

Pure Ink Poetry, Buffalo, NY

Bowery Poetry Slam, New York, NY

Union Square Slam, New York, NY

Nuyorican Poet’s Café, New York City, NY

Roc Bottom Slam Poetry, Rochester, NY

The Advanced Slam, Staten Island, NY

Rock Slam , Suffern, NY

White Plains Library Slam, White Plains, NY

Queen City Poetry Slam, Cincinnati, OH

The People Slam, Cleveland, OH


Writing Wrongs, Columbus, OH

Red Dirt Poetry Slam, Oklahoma City, OK

The Burlington Slam Project, Burlington, ON

Poetic Exchange, Toronto, ON

Toronto Poetry Slam, Toronto, ON

Windsor Poetry Slam, Windsor, ON

Portland Poetry Slam, Portland, OR

Slamlandia, Portland, OR

The Fuze, Philadelphia, PA

The Pigeon Presents: The Philadelphia Poetry Slam, Philadelphia, PA

Steel City Slam, Pittsburgh, PA

Providence Poetry Slam, Providence, RI

Say What Upstate Poetry Slam Sponsored by Wits End Poetry, Greenville, SC

Unlimited Poetry Slam, Arlington, TX

Austin Neo Soul, Austin, TX

Austin Poetry Slam, Austin, TX

Ballabajoomba Poetry Slam, Corpus Christi, TX

Dallas Poetry Slam, Dallas, TX

Fort Worth Poetry Slam, Dallas, TX

FrontEra Poetry Slam, El Paso, TX

Houston Poetry Slam, Houston, TX

Houston VIP, Houston, TX

Write About Now, Houston, TX

Killeen Poetry Slam, Killeen, TX

Ktown Mic Drop Slam, Killeen, TX

Laredo Border Slam, Laredo, TX

PuroSlam, San Antonio, TX

Sugar Slam, Salt Lake, UT

Salt City Slam, Salt Lake City, UT

SlamRichmond, Richmond, VA

The Writer’s Den, Richmond, VA

Olympia People’s Mic, Olympia, WA

Rain City Slam, Seattle, WA

Seattle Poetry Slam, Seattle, WA

Spokane Poetry Slam, Spokane, WA

Urban Spoken Word, Madison, WI






Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWps)

The Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWps) is a four day poetry festival, in which 96 of the best female-identified poets in slam will compete against each other in order to crown the Women of the World Poetry Slam champion. In this event, poets compete in preliminary competitions (referred to as “bouts”) over two nights. In addition to the tournament, WOWps includes writing and performance workshops and themed open mics, and community events that are open to the public. Competition at WOWps includes poets who live their lives as women, which includes female assigned or identified individuals and/or gender non-conforming individuals. The 14 poets with the best scores and ranks from those days move on to Finals, where one poet is crowned the champion! In addition to the competition, each day of the festival features poetry workshops, themed open mics, special nighttime events, and parties.


The 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam was held in Brooklyn, NY.  Event Coordinator, Mahogany L. Browne, Host City Chair, Lauren Williams, and the entire Host City team gave an amazing event to the community on the beautiful campus at Pratt Institute. From the unforgettable opening ceremonies with Patricia Smith to sold-out preliminary bouts and sold-out finals, it was a huge success. The Brooklyn team provided excellent programming throughout, and with 96 competitors and hundreds of local supporters and volunteers, there were four days of incredible events.  2016 was the first year of WOWps co-champions, with the title going to Imani Cezanne and Emi Mahmoud, both tremendous poets who brought their best work to the stage.



The 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam was held in Dallas, TX. Host City Chair, Candy Zantea, and the incredible team in Dallas welcomed the poets with true southern hospitality. The events were held in downtown Dallas in a dance school, a bookstore, an art gallery, a library, restaurants, and bars, and the city welcomed us with open arms. 96 poets came from all over the United States and Canada, and as far away as Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa to share their work for four days of beautiful events. The Dallas community supported the event whole-heartedly, filling every venue with boisterous support!


National Poetry Slam

The largest poetry slam event in the world, the National Poetry Slam is the annual poetry slam championship tournament, wherein four- to five-person teams from all over North America gather to compete against each other for the national team title.



The 2016 National Poetry Slam was held in Decatur, Georgia. Event Coordinator, Maureen Benson, and Host City Chair, Daryl Funn, led an incredible host city team to a welcoming and celebratory event in Decatur. We had 72 teams from all over the United States and Canada participate in five days of poetry, all culminating in the Finals in Atlanta where Baltimore’s Slammageddon, San Diego Poetry Slam, Boston’s House Slam, and Austin’s Neo Soul Slam all competed for the championship title.  Baltimore’s Slammageddon won the National Poetry Slam, earning their first championship! Now one of our anchor cities, we look forward to returning to Decatur in 2021.



The 2017 National Poetry Slam was held in Denver, Colorado. Maureen Benson and the Host City Chairs, Danielle Brooks and Mary McDonough, worked with a powerhouse host city team to welcome the community to the Mile High City. There were a record 80 teams competing from all over the United States and Canada, and our first team from Melbourne, Australia Over five nights of competition, 80 teams from throughout the United States and Canada and one team from Australia sent their best work to stages in venues all over Five Points Historic Cultural District and downtown Denver. The event culminated in the top four teams – Brooklyn Slam, Los Angeles’ Da Poetry Lounge, Boston’s House Slam, and San Diego Poetry Slam – competing for the championship title on Saturday, August 12, 2017 to a packed house at the Paramount Theatre.


Individual World Poetry Slam

The Individual World Poetry Slam (iWPS) is a four day poetry festival, bringing together 96 of the best performance poets from North America, as well as poets from other parts of the world, to compete for the championship title. In this event, poets compete in preliminary competitions (referred to as “bouts”) over two nights. The poets with the top fourteen scores from those days move on to Finals, where one poet is crowned the champion! In addition to the competition, each day of the festival features poetry workshops, themed open mics, special nighttime events, and parties. All events are open to the public.


The Individual World Poetry Slam (iWPS) was held in Flagstaff, Arizona. John Quiñonez led an incredible host city team of organizers through a four-day poetry festival, where poets from all over the United States, Canada, Israel, and South Africa competed together to crown the Individual World Poetry Slam champion. Finals were held at Northern Arizona University, and our champion for the record FOURTH time is Ed Mabrey.



The Individual World Poetry Slam returned to Spokane, Washington. Isaac Grambo and Inkera Oshun worked together to host 90 competing poets in multiple venues in downtown Spokane. Fourteen poets made into finals, which were held at Bing Crosby Theatre. Arvind Nandakumar made it into #iWPS2017 by being the runner-up in the Last Chance Slam, and made his way all the way to finals!  Finals was an incredible show, with Arvind Nandakumar and Anthony McPherson tying in the third round and heading into a tie-breaker, where they tied AGAIN!  It was a magnificent show, and Arvind emerged the new Individual World Poetry Slam Champion!






Major Contributors 2016-17

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation

Denver Arts & Venues

Jammin’ 101.5


Additional Supporters 2016-17

Colorado Creative Industries

Colorado Women’s March

Lighthouse Writers Workshop

310 Brown Street


In-Kind Contributors

Blair Stapp

brother jeff’s Cultural Center

Civic Center Conservancy

Clocktower Cabaret

Clyfford Still Musuem

Coffee at the Point

Decatur Library

Denver Comic Con

Denver Open Media

Denver Public Library

FNG Eats


Mercury Café

Stopped Down Studio


Youth On Record


Community Partners


Academy of American Poets

Busboys & Poets

Impact HUB Oakland

Split This Rock

Youth Speaks