Poetry: Overview

First, let’s define what poetry is as defined by the National Forensic League: “Poetry is writing which expresses ideas, experience, or emotion through the creative arrangement of words according to their sound, their rhythm, their meaning (www.nflonline.org).” Thus, when defining this event, Poetry is the interpretation of a poetic story/expression in a particular time frame.

Anything you have read that is in verse and utilizes stanzas is poetry. All poetry selected for this event must be published, printed works and not from a work of drama. Aside from that, any type of poetry goes, as long as it is not being used for another speech event you are currently competing in.

For Poetry, the competitor can use more than one work of topic-related poetry (two poems from two different authors for example) to create a piece. Be reminded though that all poetry used needs to work together and have a clear flow. Also, use of multiple voices/characters is totally okay (just make sure each is easily recognizable and unambiguous). While performing Poetry, use of gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, intonation, and diction is crucial. This is poetry interpretation, so any action or alteration of voice needs to empower the work. Also, adding this variety and texture with your body and voice keeps the audience interested and distinguishes you from people merely reading the words. The words need to come alive when you speak them. They need to fill the room and be perfectly understandable.

Further, in Poetry the performer is equipped with a small, black binder. The piece is to be placed within the book and read from. Well, the performer is to give the appearance that they are reading the selection by looking at the page every so often. The binder can be a fabulous tool when used effectively (holding it tight to your body alters your stance and gives a completely different vibe from holding the book at a comfortable distance, for instance). Melting the binder into you and your voice is an art that takes practice.