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What is Performance Poetry?

If you have ever read a poem aloud to someone else, you have performed poetry.

Too often, we think of performance poetry as something different than the poems we write on the page. Poetry is meant to be heard, and we want our work to impact others. The best way to do accomplish this is to read our poems to others.

That being said, we must tailor the poem to our audience. Select poems that are easily digestible, those that can be understood in the first reading. Poems that may not translate well for performance poetry are those that have multiple layers of imagery or complex themes that require multiple readings and time to reflect in order to grasp the poem's full meaning. 

You can do this! 

Nebraska Poetry Society's 
2024 Performance Poetry Contest

Starts April 15th 2024
Winners announced by September 30th.
  • 1st Place: $250

  • 2nd Place: $100

  • 3rd Place: $ 25

  • Honorable Mentions: Up to 20 poems will be selected as honorable mentions.

All winners and honorable mentions will be published in the Nebraska Poetry Society’s online publication, The Poet Rabble.

Guest Judge: Benjamin Gardea 


Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. B-Jam is the AZ State Poetry Society's 2023 State Poetry Slam champion. A 2023 top 10 nationally ranked slam poet. The host/producer of the PHX Poetry Slam by B-Jam. Producer/host of the Backstreet Jam Open Mic Show. Organizer/host of the 2024 BlackBerry Peach National Poetry Slam AZ Championships. He curates several writer's workshops across the valley, and has been featured at several events including Arizona State University and PBS. His mission is to be a part of the poetry/art community and be a caretaker of the artform for future generations to explore and experience.

Submission Guidelines:

Submissions are open on April 15, 2024.

Submissions will close when we receive 100 entrants or on July 31st, whichever happens first.

Submissions are only accepted through Submittable. You can access Submittable by clicking the black "Click here to Submit" button above or by clicking here


  • Submissions are open to anyone. You do not need a connection to Nebraska or a Nebraska Poetry Society membership.

  • You must be 18 years of age to enter.

  • A printed copy must accompany the video, and both should be named identically with: firstname_lastname_titleofpoem

  • Videos must be at least one minute long and no more than three minutes long. 

  • Video can only include your work. Do not start with an explanation of your work. Your poem should stand alone without any explanation. Trigger warnings are not necessary. 

  • You may submit as many poems as you wish, but you cannot submit the same poem more than once in any of our contests.

  • Videos can be in any language, provided it includes English subtitles. Printed copies must be in English.

  • You may submit videos published previously on the internet or used in other competitions. Please be aware that the judge is looking for new and surprising work. If your video has been widely circulated online, it will not be new or surprising to the judge. 

  • Collaborative poems are accepted.

  • All work MUST be original and written by the performing artist. The poet must own all rights to the submitted work, including text, audio, video, and images.

  • Video montage of images is not accepted. We want to see you performing your work.


The nonrefundable submission fee is $10. This includes two (2) poems.

Formatting: On your printed copy, please use a 12-point Times New Roman font. Format the poem as you would like us to read it, using line breaks, etc. The poems are judged by the video only. The printed version lets the judge spend more time with your work, re-read it for clarity, etc. Most common video file types are accepted. Files must not exceed 1GB.

Winners will be announced by September 30, 2024. You will be notified of your submission as the contest progresses. Notification will be through Submittable using the name and email address you provide when submitting. 


Video Tips:

  • Please use high-quality audio and video to ensure the judge can correctly see and hear your performance.

  • Film your video inside in a well-lit and quiet area with no distracting backgrounds. The judge should be focused on you and not an image in the background.


The submission fee is a tax-deductible donation to the Nebraska Poetry Society, a non-profit organization whose mission is to make poetry accessible to all. The submission fee includes a subscription to our quarterly newsletter.

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