Poetry SLAM News

Ann Marie Newman
Ann Marie Newman October 2022 Slam first place winner
2023-02-16- poetry slam winners
Fourteen poets competed in February's Slam. Here are our winners! Left to right, Dawn Loeffler (2nd), Ann Marie Newman (3rd) and Shawna Fairbanks (1st).
April 2023 SLAM winner Lenee Ochsner
April 2023 SLAM winner Lenee Ochsner
Mauro Guttierrez, Bemidji Musician

What Is a Poetry SLAM?

Shawna Bullen-Fairbanks Poetry SLAM winner September 2023
Shawna Bullen-Fairbanks Poetry SLAM winner September 2023

Shawna Bullen-Fairbanks bares her soul to take home 1st Place September 21, 2023. Congrats as well to 2nd and 3rd Place winners Nishiime and Ash Dow, and many thanks to our the participating poets and musician Mauro Gutierrez for sharing their creative talents.

Next Watermark Poetry SLAM April 25 at Fozzies

With few noted exceptions, 2024 SLAMs are held at Fozzie’s BBQ in Bemidji at 114 3rd St, Bemidji, MN.

Sign in begins at 6:30; performances at 7pm. Call Watermark 218-444-7570 if you’d like to pre-register to perform.

No fee to perform. No fee to watch.


A poetry slam is a competitive art event in which poets perform spoken word poetry before a live audience and a panel of judges. Poets are not required to memorize their poems and are welcome to use notes.

While formats can vary, slams are often loud and lively, with audience participation, cheering and dramatic delivery.

Poets should prepare three original SLAM! poems, new in the last three years, never previously performed at a state or local event, and each under three minutes reading time.

Judges, selected from the audience, give each reading a score on a scale of 1 to 10.  The poets with highest scores move forward to a second, then third round. The top three in the final round win cash prizes of $100, $75, and $50. Additional prize money may be distributed if available.

League of MN Poets offering Memberships

Because of the thriving community of spoken word artists Bemidji has been cultivating, the metro-based League of MN Poets is again offering free 2023-2024 memberships to the winners of each Watermark Poetry SLAM this season.

Along with the membership, winners from around the state will also get a 10 day early registration benefit for the BlackBerry Peach National Slam Qualifier (BBPNSQ) in St. Cloud (updated) on April 20, 2024. There will be 12 of these exclusive slots available on a first come first serve basis before registration is open to the public. Registration is free.

Winners of the qualifier may go on to the national slam in Atlanta, GA. Details on nationals and prizes are forth-coming.

Visit the League of MN Poets website https://www.mnpoets.org for league information.

Thank you to Fozzie’s for hosting Watermark’s 2022-23 SLAMS and for the foreseeable SLAMs planned for 2023-24.

Bemidji Area Arts EndowmentSpoken Word Poetry SLAMs are supported in part by the Bemidji Area Arts Endowment.