hear, here! poetry open mic & slam – every third friday

The Hear, Here! Poetry Open Mic & Slam is a welcoming community who affirms each individual to listen, write and share, by which we create accessible environments in Colorado Springs for poetry, spoken word, and slam.



who is hear, here?

Founded in 2011 by Luke Cissell and currently curated with Susan Peiffer, the Hear, Here! Poetry Open Mic & Slam is a Poetry Slam, Inc. certified organization serving the Pikes Peak region as a catalyst for creative an holistic community.

More than time spent with microphone and pen, Hear, Here! digs deep and plants seeds to foster inclusive, intergenerational and life-sharing community networks. With multidimensional events, programs, and outreach we ensure the heritage of poetry, the future of spoken word and the culture of slam remain visible, vital and deeply integrated with the social, educational and sustaining fabrics of our region.

Hear, Here! engages diverse and intergenerational audiences, provides high-quality access points to writing and performance education, features nationally known and locally loved artists and encourages the Creative in everyone to listen, write and share.

Hear, Here! is recognized for establishing a reputable presence with existing institutions, dedication to community growth, and encouraging each individual to participate in embracing the gift of writing and speaking words aloud.

what is the format?

Once a month Hear, Here! hosts its all ages, all welcome, uncensored open mic and poetry slam at Cottonwood Center for the Arts. This event will be centered around building up an intergenerational community dedicated to listening to each others’ stories through the art of performance poetry.

Readers on the open mic are asked to limit their reading to two pieces or five minutes. Anyone is welcome to slam. Please see the 2014 Slam Season Rules. $5 suggested donation at the door, no one turned away. Light snacks and beverages available for purchase.

  • 6:00 – Doors
  • 6:15 – Workshop
  • 7:00 – List opens up
  • 7:15 – Open Mic
  • 7:45 – Feature performance
  • 7:45 – 8:05 – Break
  • 7:45 – Feature performance
  • 8:15 – Slam! (until approximately 9:30 pm)

who can participate?

Anyone! From first timers to experienced veterans, you are invited to participate in both open mic and slam events! We are an intentionally diverse all-ages, uncensored community who openly welcomes all persons (though not all behaviors) into our shared, safe space.

how much does it cost?

There is a $5 suggested donation collected at the door. No one is turned away. Proceeds directly fund Hear, Here!’s operating expenses, programs, scholarships, community events, and youth and adult slam teams. If there is a feature reader, there will also be a “hat passed” for individual compensation.

what is poetry slam?

Poetry Slam is conventionally defined as the art of competitive performance poetry. Invented in the 1980’s by Chicago construction worker Marc Smith (so what!?!) slam is a fast paced competition where poets have a limited amount of time to present their original work and impress judges randomly selected from the audience.

Performers use all the tricks of story telling coupled with their own poetry to wheedle points out of the judges from 0.0 to 10.0. The audience is encouraged to participate by cheering the poets and attempting to sway the judges.

Check out Mike Henry, MC Emeritus of the Austin Poetry Slam with his patented slam intro.

As always, the points are not the point, the POETRY’s the point!

who is p.s.i.?

Poetry, Slam, Inc. is the official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization charged with overseeing the international coalition of poetry slams. The mission of PSI is to promote the performance and creation of poetry while cultivating literary activities and spoken word events in order to build audience participation, stimulate creativity, awaken minds, foster education, inspire mentoring, encourage artistic statement an engage communities worldwide in the revelry of language.

what is n.p.s.?

The National Poetry Slam is the annual slam championship tournament wherein three to five member teams from across North America and Europe gather to compete for the national team title. This week long festival is part championship tournament, part poetry summer camp, and part traveling exhibition. Staged in a different city every year, Hear, Here! is already planning to make a solid Colorado Springs presence in Oakland, California in August, 2014!


what are the 2014 hear, here! slam season rules?

Hear, Here! conforms to the basic rules of slam as outlined by Poetry Slam, Inc.

original work
Poets must perform their own original work

Using a “sample” or a part of another person’s poem or song within a poem is allowed, however the majority of the poem must be of the poet’s own original construction.

Each poet is given three minutes to perform an original piece of work. At the end of three minutes a ten second grace period will be given. Time begins with first contact with the audience. For each ten second period beyond 3:10, .5 point will be deducted from the poem’s score. At four minutes, the emcee will likely cut the poet off.

Poets may not use props, costumes, nudity, or musical accompaniment.

Your poem and performance will be judged by three to five judges randomly selected from the audience before the show. The emcee will do their best to find unbiased judges based on the audience. Ideally, the judges will not be connected to any competing poets. The poets will have the opportunity to approve the panel of judges.

The judges will score each performance based on such qualities as content, creativity, and presentation. There will be a calibration poet before the slam begins. Judges will score from 0.0 being the worst, to 10.0 being the best. With five judges the high and low scores will be dropped and the three in the middle are added together for a score out of 30. If there are three judges, all scores are kept and added together to obtain a score out of 30.

Hear, Here! “Qualifying” or “Open” Slams are open up to 8 poets and include two rounds of competition with the 5 highest scoring poets advancing to the second round. The initial 8 poets will be determined on a first-come-first-served basis with a 7:00 p.m. list sign up time. In the event of additional poets wanting to slam, a lottery may be drawn and 8 competitors will be chosen. The rounds are “clean slate” meaning the scores from the first round determine the order of the poets in the second round, but do not carry over. The second round scores stand on their own to determine the placing for the competition. The highest scoring poet from the first round will go first in the second round, continuing in reverse order. In the case of a tie in the first round, both poets will advance to the second round. In the case of a tie in the final round, both poets will be required to enter into a final “death match” to determine the winner.

repeat rule
Once a poet has placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd with a poem, it may not be repeated in competition until the team selection slam-off. This keeps our writing fresh!

qualifying points
Hear, Here! uses a cumulative points system for determining the participants in the National Team Selection Slam-off. One earns points by slamming and volunteering throughout the season. Points are awarded as follows:

  • 1st place – 3 points
  • 2nd place – 2 points
  • 3rd place – 1 point
  • 4th place – .5 point
  • Sacrificial Poet – .5 point
  • Host – .5 point

Slams are open to anyone, however, according to Poetry Slam, Inc. regulations, poets must be 21 years of age in order to participate at the National Poetry Slam; some years the host city lowers this age limit to 18. OUR VENUE IS ALL AGES AND WE ENCOURAGE ALL POETS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE LOCAL COMPETITION.

national team slam-off selection
The team selection slam off will have a minimum of 9 competitors. Participants will be determined by order of cumulative qualifying points during the 2014 season or will be the winner from the “Last Chance” slam. The Last Chance Slam will take place at the final regular slam of the season and the winner will qualify for the slam-off, regardless of prior participation during the season. Before competing in the slam-off, poets will be required to sign an agreement with Hear, Here! prepared by the slam master which outlines the requirements for team participation, including PSi membership and adherence with PSi rules. The five poets with the highest scores will qualify for the team. If the winners of the team selection slam are unable to attend NPS, Hear, Here! will go down the list of qualified finals poets to determine the team membership. Should a team member need to be replaced, the poets competing in the slam-off will have the first right of refusal in order of their final rank. If the poets from the slam-off are unavailable to participate on the team, a publicly advertised “emergency slam” will be held.


for more information


Please feel free to contact Luke Cissell or Susan Peiffer at wheretohear@gmail.com for any questions, to book a performance or workshop, or any additional information. Click here for the Hear, Here! Facebook page.