Thanks to Button Poetry and other online sources, the knowledge dropping, word magic, performance beauty that is spoken word poetry has become increasingly accessible online. You can spend hours fixated on your computer screen allowing YouTube playlists to automatically play the next video in the queue, laughing and crying and learning more than you thought possible from just one (or 17) poem(s). While there is seemingly an endless supply of these poems online and new poets and poems are constantly emerging, sometimes eyes-glazed-over nights alone with virtual poets just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes you might wonder just where the heck these poets are. The videos, almost all from live venues, must be recorded somewhere!

Whether you’ve always wanted to experience the live performance of those tear-jerking pieces you’ve spent many late nights watching on Youtube over pints of Ben and Jerry’s or you’re ready to unwrap yourself from your cozy bed cocoon and try your own hand at writing and performing, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Poetry Slam, Inc. has a comprehensive listing of registered poetry slams across the U.S. Enter your city, state, or even a slam name to find something near you and get linked to individual venue websites for more detail. Always wanted to hear a live slam? (Be warned: these are interactive! Be ready to snap and “oooh” and “mmhm” and stomp and cheer. The poets feed off this energy.) Or if you’re interested in finding an open mic or entering a slam near you, this is the place to look.
  2. College Clubs. Live near a college campus? Check the school’s website for any poetry or spoken word groups. We’re entering summer now, but when the school year comes around, looking into sites and Facebook groups or events for college poetry groups for information on potential public shows is a great way to find local events.
  3. National Poetry Slam (NPS). From the California area, planning to be there this summer, or ready to book a flight to see some of the nation’s best poets? You could have the pleasure of witnessing the beauty of a five-day poetry bloodbath (in the best possible sense) at the 26th annual national slam in Oakland, California from August 10th-15th. Buy tickets to or find or more information here.
  4. Slam Poetry Camp. Still in high school or just graduated? Looking to be immersed in the world of writing, performing and learning from practiced Slam Poets? If you’re ready to eat, sleep, and breathe the slam world for a week or know someone who would thrive on that environment, This summer Slam Poetry Camp at Gustavus Adolphus College just might be the place to be.
  5. Individual World Poetry Slam (iWPS). Unlike the teams that will descend on Oakland to compete together for the national title this summer, iWPS will bring 72 of the best contestants to compete for an individual title this fall. Bummed that you weren’t able to make it to the west coast for NPS? Good news. iWPS is set to be held in D.C. in the fall of 2015, likely October. Unfortunately, the website hasn’t been updated yet, but keep checking here until they update with details.
  6. Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWPS). The 2015 competition has come and gone and took place from March 18th-21st in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Janae Johnson was crowned winner. Keep a look out for next year’s competition, where it will possible come to a city near you.
  7. Louder Than a Bomb (LTAB). The largest youth poetry festival in the world, LTAB is held annually in Chicago and attracts incredible young voices to center stage. It runs between February and March, and more information can be found here.
  8. College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). Joined your college poetry club and want to try out for the team? Keep a lookout for the chance to slam at the nationwide competition between some of the best collegiate poets. Past your college days, but still dying to watch? Check out details on CUPSI here. It’s a long way off, but March is just fire for slam poetry.
  9. YouTube. Last, but certainly not least, sometimes you still want a night in and need that daily dose of #facts via poetry. (Or sometimes it’s just not the night for poetry venues near you.) If you’ve exhausted all the Button Poetry poems, check out a few other Youtube channels with dope poetry, including: Poetry Slam Inc, SlamFind, All Def Poetry, speakeasynyc, Vancouver Poetry Slam (Speaking of which, check out vanslam events!)

Comment or tweet us with your favorite spoken word and slam venues!

Want more content like this? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter below.