Poetry: Structure and Rules

The performer chooses a selection from a published, printed work of poetry (verse), makes a cutting (can cut from two+ different poems as long as the topics are related), places the cutting in a small, black binder, analyzes/interprets/practices, and then goes to competition. At a tournament, the performer competes in three rounds (in each round giving an introduction to the piece) and possibly a fourth if they break to finals.


• All selections must be from published, printed works of verse (no plays or other pieces of dramatic works permitted)
• Cuttings can employ different poems from different authors as long as the themes relate
• Cutting should tell a story/expression and have a clear progression of events
• Must be within time (ten minutes is normal, although some areas vary)
• An introduction is required (names author, title, gives any necessary information, and sets the tone) and given after a minute or so of the piece has been delivered, at a natural break-point
• Interpretation is most of what you will be ranked by, so know the plot, the characters, the theme, EVERYTHING
• No props or costumes
• All gestures, stances, facials, vocals/intonations need to support that character (and needs to be unique to that particular character), help tell story, and be clear
• Diction is important
• No moving—you must stand in one place, but are allowed to change stance for different characters
• Although not a rule, use of anything other than a 10” black binder usually results in lose of points
• Binder needs to be an extension of you, if it looks awkward you will lose points
• Although most Poetry performers memorize (and it is recommended), you need to give the appearance of reading, so look down at strategic, planned spots
• Page turns can add or subtract points pending on if they work with you or against you (be mindful of their placement and how you turn)
• Cannot use Poetry cutting in your Duo, HI, or DI
• Eye contact is vital, address your audience and do not be afraid to look at them—it can be an intense tool