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In addition to these tips, teachers, coaches, and students may also find it useful to view the Judge’s Guide. Many of the following categories also have links to videos of student performances which illustrate mastery of that specific category.

Learning Recitation Videos

Image of Kareem Sayegh from the Learning Recitation Video series.

Created to illustrate the art of poetry recitation.


Evaluation Criteria:


Physical Presence

Body language, and poise.

Tips:

Qualities of a strong recitation:

Ease and comfort with the audience. Engagement with the audience through physical presence, including appropriate body language and confidence—without appearing artificial.

Video Examples:

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Voice and Articulation

Pacerhythmintonation, and proper pronunciation
Keep in Mind: Contestants will use a microphone at the National Finals.

Tips:

Qualities of a strong recitation:

All words pronounced correctly, and the projection, rhythm, and intonation greatly enhance the recitation. Pacing appropriate to the poem.

Video Examples:

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Dramatic appropriateness

Recitation is about conveying a poem’s sense with its language. A strong performance will rely on a powerful internalization of the poem rather than excessive gestures.  Appropriate interpretation enhances the audience’s understanding and enjoyment of the poem without overshadowing the poem’s language.

Tips:

Qualities of a strong recitation:

The interpretation subtly underscores the meaning of the poem without becoming the focal point. A low score in this category will result from recitations that have affected character voices and accents, inappropriate tone and inflection, singing, excessive gestures, or unnecessary emoting.

Video Examples:

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Evidence of understanding

This category is to evaluate your comprehension and mastery of the poem. The poet’s words should take precedence, and you should be able to voice them in a way that helps the audience to understand the poem better. To do this, you must effectively use intonation, emphasis, tone, and style of delivery.

Tips:

Qualities of a strong recitation:

The meaning of the poem is powerfully and clearly conveyed to the audience. The interpretation deepens and enlivens the poem. Meaning, themes, allusions, irony, tone, and other nuances are captured by the performance. A low score will be awarded if the interpretation obscures the meaning of the poem.

Video Examples:

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Overall Performance

This category is to evaluate the overall success of the poem, the degree to which the recitation has become more than the sum of its parts.

Judges may also consider the poem complexity and range of your recitations with this score; you are less likely to score well in overall performance when judges note that your style of interpretation remains the same regardless of poem choice. A low score will be awarded for recitations that are poorly presented, ineffective in conveying the meaning of the poem, or conveyed in a manner inappropriate to the poem.

Tips:

Make sure each poem you choose is one that speaks to you. If you are able to connect with a poem, that internalization will ripple positively throughout all of your scores.

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Accuracy

A separate judge will mark missed or incorrect words during the recitation, with small deductions for each. If you rely on the prompter during your recitation, points will also be subtracted from your accuracy score. Eight points will be added to your score for a perfectly accurate recitation. Refer to the accuracy score sheet for details.