Canadian Individual Poetry Slam

The Canadian Individual Poetry Slam (CIPS) will take place between April 28 – May 1, 2021. CIPS is a nationally recognized poetry slam. This year, the competition will take place online, as part of the Verses Festival of Words. 

Up to 32 poets representing spoken word series and regions across Canada will compete in a head-to-head tournament, presenting poems that are a maximum of 3 minutes in length each. 

Winners of each head-to-head will be determined by a live vote enacted by other competing poets and 3 appointed festival judges. This judging system aligns with our vision of the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Champion being chosen by fellow poets and community members. 

The format of the virtual competition this year will be as follows: 


16 poets will be drawn at random to compete head-to-head on the first preliminary night of the festival. They will be paired up via random draw. The 8 winning poets will move onto the semi-finals. 


The remaining 16 poets will compete on the second night of preliminaries following the same format: they will be paired up via random draw and compete head-to-head. The 8 winning poets will move forward to semi-finals.

SEMI-FINALS – April 30, 2021

The 16 semi-finalists (8 from 1st preliminary night + 8 from 2nd preliminary night) will compete in the same head-to-head fashion, with random draws determining each of the pairings. The winning 8 poets will move onto the finals.

FINALS – May 1, 2021 

The top 8 poets will not be going head-to-head this time. Instead, they will be individually scored by the judges to determine the final rankings.


1st place poet will receive $500, and a confirmed performance opportunity at a future Verses Festival or equivalent within Vancouver Poetry House programs.

*Please note that CIPS is an English speaking competition. However, there are no language restrictions. 


Information on how to compete in CIPS 2021 here. 

Past CIPS Winners



2011 – Ikenna ‘OpenSecret’ Onyegbula
2012 – R.C. Weslowski
2013 – Ikenna ‘OpenSecret’ Onyegbula
2014 – IF the Poet
2015 – Prufrock Shadowrunner
2016 – Andre Prefontaine
2017 – Ifrah Hussein
2018 – Lady Vanessa Cardona
2019 – Nisha Patel
2020 – Qurat Dar

2021 – ???