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The IPA Poetry Slam

The Iowa Poetry Association recognizes spoken word poetry continuing to establish itself as a powerful art form, and we are happy to provide spoken word opportunities for Iowa poets across the state.

Spoken word poetry is a real-time poetic conversation between a poet and audience. It is a powerful storytelling method that connects us in a human way. In the same way that page poets submit work to contests, spoken word poets have a poetry slam. Simply put, a poetry slam is competitive spoken word poetry.

What is the IPA Poetry Slam?

Each year, IPA will host a series of poetry slams across the state in the search for our Iowa champion. The winner of the IPA Poetry Slam will receive a sponsored spot to compete in the annual BlackBerry Peach National Poetry Slam to be held in partnership with the NFSPS National Convention.

In 2022-23, we had a series of three qualifying slams and invited the top 12 poets to compete on the final stage. We then sponsored our champion, Samm Yu, to send them to the 2023 BlackBerry Peach National Poetry Slam.

It turned out to be quite the inaugural year for us! We're excited to bring it back for 2024.

In 2024, we will host a series of six qualifying poetry slams across the state in the search for our 2024 IPA Poetry Slam Champion. The top two poets from each qualifier will advance to the IPA Poetry Slam Finals to be held on April 19, 2024, as part of Poetry Palooza!

The third-place poet from each qualifier will serve as an alternate finalist in case another from their qualifier is unable to compete in finals.

The winner of our slam will be named the 2024 Iowa Champion, receive a year's membership to IPA, have their winning poem published in Lyrical Iowa, and earn an IPA-sponsored spot in the 2024 BlackBerry Peach National Poetry Slam. This year's national slam will be held in Roswell, Georgia, June 5-8, 2024.

The second- and third-place poets from finals will have the opportunity to publish one of their poems in Lyrical Iowa.

Read the 2024 Official IPA Poetry Slam Rules and Structure document for full details.

How to Enter the IPA Poetry Slam

Find a qualifying slam near you and save the date! Register to compete ahead of your qualifier by emailing ipa@iowapoetry.com with "Slam Entry" and your chosen location in the subject line. In the body of the email, please include your full name, hometown, and contact information.

IPA 2024 Poetry Slam Schedule

  • POSTPONED until Jan 31 - Davenport Qualifier, Raccoon Motel
  • POSTPONED until Feb 1 - Ames Qualifier, Lockwood Cafe
  • January 26, 6-8 p.m. - DSM Qualifier, The Slow Down Coffee Co.
  • January 31, 7-9 p.m. - Davenport Qualifier, Raccoon Motel
  • Feburary 1, 7-9 p.m. - Ames Qualifier, Lockwood Cafe
  • February 15 7-9 p.m. - Waterloo/Cedar Falls Qualifier, Interp Theater (Lang Hall), UNI Campus (Cedar Falls, IA)
  • February 23, 7-9 p.m. - Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Qualifier, PS1 Close House
  • February 29, 7-9 p.m. - Sioux City Qualifier, LCIC
  • FINALS: April 19, 2024, 7:30-9:30 p.m. at Poetry Palooza in Grand View University's Viking Theater

If you have any questions, please reach out to Kelsey Bigelow at kelsey@kelkaybpoetry.com or ipa@iowapoetry.com

2024 Winners

Thank you to all of the poets who competed in the 2024 IPA Poetry Slam! Congratulations to the top poets from each qualifier around the state:

  • Des Moines Qualifier: Prince Harrison Jr., Aminah Nalani, Arsema Berhane
  • Davenport Qualifier: Esther Windt
  • Ames Qualifier: Abby Jacobson, Dylan Schilling, Jaleesa Epps
  • Waterloo/Cedar Falls Qualifier: Julie Matta, Sabur Muhammad, Tony Miller
  • Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Qualifier: Siri Boateng and Barb Edler (tied first), Alta Medea
  • Sioux City Qualifier: Willette Holt

2024 Des Moines Qualifier

2024 Davenport Qualifier

2024 Ames Qualifier

2024 Waterloo/Cedar Falls Qualifier

2024 Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Qualifier

2024 Sioux City Qualifier

Past Winners

Congratulations to our past finalists and champion! You all represented Iowa incredibly well, and we are honored to have heard your poetry on stages across the state.

  • 2023 Iowa Champion: Samm Yu (Des Moines)
  • 2023 Top 12: Samm Yu, Hannah/Charlie Hall, Yabsira Tekle, Barb Edler, Josh Borgmann, Prince Harrison Jr., Summer Awad, Aanika Pfister, Aminah Nalani, Tameliyah "Saaliyah" Singleton, Miguel Ramirez, Megan Sennikof

Each finalist performed their best poetry and created an evening of powerful connection. We are proud of all the competitors!

Thank you to our incredible lineup of judges for the finals: IPA's own Dawn Terpstra and Jerrold Narland, Nebraska State Poet Matt Mason, and Say Poetry's Leah Waughtal-Magiera and Jalesha Johnson.

The top three poets were Samm, Hannah/Charlie, and Yabsira! Samm advanced to the 2023 NFSPS Blackberry Peach National Poetry Slam in Des Moines to represent Iowa and complete for $5,000 worth of prizes. Congratulations!

Thank you to all the poets who competed in each of the qualifying slams as well as the finals. We appreciate you, your poetry, and your dedication to spoken word poetry. Pleas keep and eye out in the coming months for details on next year's IPA Poetry Slam Series!

2023 Perry qualifier winners
2023 Iowa City-area qualifier winners
2023 Des Moines-area qualifier winners

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