We will be participating in the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, along with thousands of other high school students across the country. This involves memorizing and performing a poem from the Poetry Out Loud anthology. The first thing to do is choose a poem that speaks to you. from the options in the classroom “poem piles”. Pick a poem that appeals to you – that you understand fairly well upon initial readings and hits you hard in your heart, mind, or soul. This will make it easier and more satisfying to memorize.

For the first check, you will recite your poem to me, demonstrating that you have memorized a big chunk of it.  The following deadline is your rough draft performance, where you will perform your whole poem from memory for a small group of classmates, and receive a score for each of the qualities on the back of this handout. From group feedback and notes, you will revise, improve, and give a final performance. The strongest performer from each class will enter the school-wide contest (held at the Outpost coffeehouse on Fulton), where s/he will compete to represent HSPS in the NYC competition, and the chance to move on to the state and national levels.

To find a poem, choose one from www.poetryoutloud.org



Thursday, January 11 from 5pm – 7pm***

Your recitation will be scored on the following criteria using the rubric below:

Evidence of Understanding:  Does the performer exhibit an understanding of the poem in his/her recitation?

Be sure you know the meaning and correct pronunciation of every word and line in your poem. If you are unsure about something, it will be apparent to the audience. Don't hesitate to ask for help.

In order for the audience to fully understand the poem, the performer must fully understand the poem. Be attentive to the messages, meanings, allusions, irony, tones of voice, and other nuances in your poem.

Think about the mood—Is it a quiet poem? Is it a boisterous poem? Should it be read more quickly or slowly, with a happy or mournful tone? Your interpretation will be different for each poem, and it is a crucial element of your performance.

Physical Presence and Posture:  Are the performer's posture, gesture, and body language appropriate?

Use good posture and be attentive. Look confident.  Engage your audience. Look them in the eye. If you have trouble with that, focus past them to the far wall and try to keep your head up.

Voice Projection and Articulation:  Are the performer’s volume, speed, voice inflection, and pronunciation appropriate?

Project to the audience. You want to capture the attention of everyone, including the people in the back row.

Perform at a natural pace. People may speak or express themselves too quickly when they are nervous, which can make a performance difficult to understand. Speak slowly, but not so slowly that the language sounds unnatural or awkward.  Be careful with rhymed poems not to recite in a sing-song manner.  Make sure you know how to pronounce every word in your poem. Articulate.

Appropriateness of Dramatization:  Does the performer use the appropriate level of dramatization for the poem?  

Don't overdo it or under-do it. Over-dramatization can distract your audience from experiencing the language of the poem. For instance, you should not point up or down every time the poem refers to the sky or ground. You are not enacting the poem. Your goal should be to help the audience understand the poem more deeply than they had before hearing your recitation.  On the other hand, avoid monotone recitations. If you sound bored, you will project that boredom onto the audience.  Have confidence that your poem is strong enough to communicate its sounds and messages without over-dramatizing. In other words, let the words of the poem do the work.






Evidence of Understanding

· The performer knows the words by heart and pronounces them perfectly

· (S)he understands everything about the poem, including tone(s)

· As a listener, I understand the poem better after this performance  

· The performer knows the poem near perfectly and pronounces words well

· S/he seems to understand the poem

generally well

· The performer may have made a few mistakes

· S/he may get the big picture, but probably does not completely understand this poem

· The performer did not know the poem well and/or understand what s/he is reading

Physical Presence

& Posture

· The performer had good posture and eye-contact

· Gestures and body language were perfectly suited for the poem

· Performer had decent posture & eye-contact

· Gestures may have been minimal

· Physical presence seemed unsure at points

· Gestures were non-existent or may have been inappropriate for the poem

· The performer’s posture, gestures, body language and eye-contact were unsure and unsuited for the poem

Voice Projection & Articulation

The reader was loud and clear for the entire performance

· Pacing, volume, and inflection  were appropriate

· Speech was smooth and natural, and may have changed to convey meaning  

· The reader was generally loud and clear enough to be heard and understood

· Pacing, volume, and  inflection seemed appropriate

· Speech was natural

· Some words were  hard to hear

· It may have been difficult to understand what was being said

· Speech may have seemed unnatural

· Nervousness may have been obvious

· Most of the piece was hard to hear and/or the reading was unclear overall

· The reader lacked confidence of voice

· Performance felt forced

Appropriateness of Dramatization

· The dramatization was well-suited to the poem

· It was neither overly dramatic nor boring

· The reading truly brought the poem to life

· The poem was neither overly dramatic nor monotone

· The dramatization may have been inappropriate to the poem or generally boring

· The poem was either completely over-dramatized and ridiculous, or

monotone and lifeless