the recitation NOT the poem
- Score each criteria
individually. Don’t give all 3’s
just to give all 3’s.
- Score conservatively, especially
at the beginning
videos mentioned here
Physical Presence- by looking at the student: You are looking at Body Language, poise, and
- Do they have good eye contact, posture? Are
they appropriately groomed and self assured?
- Are their body motions
distracting/awkward/fidgeting or are they nature and appropriate?
A contestant who scores well in this
category will be someone from whom you cannot take your eyes off of – the
student compels your focus and attention.
practices video - Shawntay A. Henry,
by Robert E. Hayden compelling-you are drawn to her on stage.
Voice and Articulation-by listening to the student: You are listening for volume, pace, rhyme, intonation, and
- Are they projecting to audience?
- Is there an appropriate volume?
- Intonation, rhythm and pacing should fit the
content of poem naturally
- With rhymed poems, the student should avoid a
- Are line breaks handled properly?
- Is each word pronounced correctly?
- Are words articulated crisply and clearly
without being unnatural or forced?
- Does student avoid mumbling, speaking too
quickly or loudly?
A contestant who scores well here will
have almost a “musical” nature about their recitation that helps us understand
the meaning of the poem.
Note: poet’s names -
give some latitude on this because we don’t always have this
Practices video -Madison Niermeyer, I Am Waiting by Lawrence Ferlinghetti-she has mastered voice and
THE CAN BE THE MOST DIFFICULT
CRITERIA TO EVALUATE and the criteria about which there is most
misunderstanding. Recitation is about conveying
a poem’s sense with its language. It is closer to the art of oral
interpretation than theatrical performance. (Think storyteller or narrator
rather than actor.)
- Not a lot of drama is necessary in this
- Not a dramatic monologue/theatrical
- The poem comes first - honor text and poet’s voice.
- Is the dramatization distracting?
- Depending on
the poem, occasional gestures may be appropriate, but the line between
appropriate and overdone is a thin one.
A contestant who scores well in this category would be one who uses
full-body movement and gestures in a very conservative, restraint, specific
manner – only when necessary and only to enhance our understanding of the
meaning of poem. Extremes of volume and pitch
are not consistent with appropriate dramatization.
- Judges should NOT get caught up in what the
audience loves. It can be very difficult to judge appropriately when the
audience loves an inappropriate dramatization. It is not slam poetry.
dramatization subtly underscores the meaning of the poem without becoming the
focal point. The style of delivery is more about oral interpretation than
dramatic enactment. A low score in this category will result from
recitations that have affected character voices and accents, inappropriate tone
and inflection, singing, distracting and excessive gestures, or unnecessary
Best Practices video -Madison Niermeyer, I Am Waiting by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. She finds the balance between
recitation and acting performance.
Level of Difficulty-THE EXCEPTION - here judges are evaluating the poem NOT the performer
- Judges should review the poems ahead of time
and assign a score. Judges should be consistent with themselves but consistent
with from judge to judge is not necessary or possible. That is, if you hear the same poem, it should
be scored the same.
- Long poems are not necessarily the most
difficult. A poem with difficult language will have complex diction and syntax, meter and rhyme
schemes, and shifts in tone or mood. Things
like Syntax (sentence structure, language) should be considered. Poems with significantly challenging
content and language may not need length to score well.
Evidence of Understanding- This category is based on the idea that,
unless the reciter understands the poem, he or she will not be able to help the
audience understand it. Poetry is a
distilled form of literature, so every word is there for a reason. Your question should be: Does this student know what he or she is
talking about? Has the poem been made
clear to me and with what level of finesse and skill???
Does the student really understand
every line and every word that they are reciting?
- Is it hard for the judge to understand and
pay attention? If yes, then it is probably not done well.
- Audience meaning should be widened and
- Judges will see that some will understand it
at the beginning then lose it then come back to it.
- When I have an “ah ha” moment – usually means
I finally understand a poem – and that is credited to the student, their
understanding and ability to convey that understanding in their recitation.
Practices video -William Farley, Danse Russe by William
OVERALL PERFORMANCE - Possible points are a little higher in this
category so be especially attentive when giving a score.
Evaluate the performance as a whole
(overall impression). . . . a
performance is more than the sum of its parts.
However, it should reflect your other scores. It would be inappropriate for student who
received scores of 4 & 5 in all other categories to suddenly receive an 8
in this one. This is NOT a “charity
score” or a “recognition of effort” score.
conservative in this category especially in the beginning-this is not to
penalize those who go first but to give yourself room to score up or down in
- Did the student bring the
audience to a better understanding of the poem?
- Did the student’s
physical presence, voice and articulation, and dramatic appropriateness
all seem on target and unified?
category is also the chance for a judge to evaluate a student’s range of
diversity poem to poem. In the Teachers Guide on page 6 it states, “It is
strongly recommended that students who compete beyond the classroom level select
poems of various style, time period and voice.” If a student seems to be stuck using the same
style of delivery with each of their poems, that may be evidence that they’ve
not taken the time to consider each poem individually . . . . even tho’
diversity of poem selection is only one of the elements a judge may
consider when determining their score for this category.
- Separate accuracy judges and score
sheets. Two judges; one score sheet.
- This is the only category in which
contestants LOSE points rather than EARN them.
Keep in mind: recitations are
expected to memorized flawlessly – it is a requirement, not a suggestion.
- Using prompter will affect accuracy and
probably other criteria.
THESE TIPS ARE BASED LIBERALLY ON THE MISSISSIPPI POETRY OUT LOUD JUDGES’ ORIENTATION
developed by Ken Bolinsky. Thank you,