1) Poems can be on any subject and in any style.
2) Each poet must perform work that s/he has created.
3) No props. Generally, poets are allowed to use their given environment and the accouterments it offers microphones, mic stands, the stage itself, chairs onstage, a table or bar top, the aisle as long as these accouterments are available to other competitors as well. The rule concerning props is not intended to squelch the spontaneity, unpredictability, or on-the-fly choreography that people love about the slam; its intent is to keep the focus on the words rather than objects.
Who inadvertently use a prop (for example, a timely yet unwitting grab at a necklace) can be immediately penalized two points if the MC of the bout deems the effect of the violation to have been appreciable, but sufficiently lacking in specific intent. A formal protest need not be lodged before the MC can penalize a poet or team in this way, however, the decision of the MC can be appealed after the bout. Teams or individuals whose use of props in a poem appears to be more calculating and the result of a specific intent to enhance, illustrate, underscore, or otherwise augment the words of the poem will be given a retroactive score for the poem equal to two points less than the lowest scoring poem in that bout. This deduction, which can only be applied after a formal protest has been lodged against the offending team, will not be made by the MC, but by a special committee assembled for this purpose.
4) No musical instruments or pre-recorded music.
5) No costumes. The protest committee may apply a two-point deduction for violation of the costume rules.
Sampling. It is acceptable for a poet to incorporate, imitate, or otherwise “signify on” the words, lyrics, or tune of someone else (commonly called “sampling”) in his own work. If he is only riffing off another’s words, he should expect only healthy controversy; if on the other hand, he is ripping off their words, he should expect scornful contumely.
The No Repeat Rule. A poem may be used only once during the entire tournament, with the exception of finals, where poems used earlier in the tournament may be repeated.
The Three-Minute Rule. No performance should last longer than three minutes. The time begins when the performance begins, which may well be before the first utterance is made. A poet is certainly allowed several full seconds to adjust the microphone and get settled and ready, but as soon as s/he makes a connection with the audience (“Hey look, she’s been standing there for 10 seconds and hasn’t even moved”), the time keeper can start the clock. The poet does not have an unlimited amount of “mimetime.”
Poetswithambiguousbeginningsandendingstotheirperformancesshouldseekoutthetimekeeperateachvenuetosettleona starting & ending time. After three minutes, there is a 10-second grace period (up to and including 3:10:00). Starting at 3:10:01 , a penalty is automatically deducted from each poet’s overall score according to the following schedule:
3:10 and under no penalty
3:10:01 -3:20 -0.5
and so on
[-0.5 for every 10 seconds over 3:10]
(An additional 10 seconds is permitted in the finals without penalty.)
The announcement of the time penalty and its consequent deduction will be made by the MC or score keeper after all the judges have reported their scores. The judges should not even be told that a poet went over time until it is too late for them to adjust their scores.
Maximum Time Limit. After four minutes, only the MC must stop a poet from continuing to perform. Influencing the crowd before the bout begins. Poets are allowed to talk casually with anyone in the crowd before the bout begins (except the judges, if they have already been chosen). They are not, however, allowed to give anything to the audience or have anyone do this for them. Furthermore, inside the venue (in the presence or within earshot of the audience) they must not act in any way that would make more of an impression than another competitor waiting for the competition to begin. Poets who violate this rule will be given one warning by the MC, Bout Manager, or house manager. Further violation will result in a two-point penalty for that poet’s score (or his team).
Rotations. Each bout will have 4 rotations. In each rotation, each team will perform once. Every rotation must represent the work of a different primary author. No individual poet may perform solo more than once in a bout, except in the case of a tie breaker. Teams violating this rule will receive a score of zero for the offending rotation.
Rustbelt is open to poets 18 years and older.
Team Pieces. Duos, trios, quartets and quintets (otherwise known as team, group, or collaborative pieces) are allowed, even encouraged, so long as all of the primary authors perform them. 1. A group piece may feature two to five performers. 2. All primary authors of a given poem must take part in the performance of that poem. However, not all performers of a given poem need to claim primary authorship of that poem. Int his way, it is possible for one person to claim primary authorship over a three-person performance, and it is also possible for three people to share primary
Authorship of a three-person group piece. It is not, however, possible for three people to share authorship of apiece with only one performer. 3. Every poet who performs during about must be able to claim primary authorship of at least one poem during that bout. 4. By the end of a bout, each team's poem selection must represent at least four primary authors, and each poem must represent a different primary author. If a five-person team wishes to have all of its members perform during about, at least one of the four poems performed during the bout must have two or more primary authors such that all team members are represented. 5. A poet who claims sole authorship of a poem performed in a bout may not claim sole authorship of any other poem during that bout, regardless of the number of performers in either poem, except in the case of a tie breaker. They may, however, share authorship. Teams that violate this rule will receive a score of zero for the offending rotation.
Team Designation. By the end of the registration period all teams must designate 4 or 5 poets as their team members. Teams may use their poets in any combination allowed by all other rules in their preliminary rounds. There shall be no substitutions for registered team members after the end of the registration period without prior approval of the Tournament Director. Any team violating this rule will be disqualified.