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Judging Poetry Out Loud

Judging recitations is one of the most important roles in Poetry Out Loud. Teachers, parents, state arts agency staff, and volunteers—not to mention the students themselves—have dedicated many hours to coaching, practicing, promoting, and planning. The integrity of the contest rests on the work of judges at each and every level of competition.

Poets, educators, actors, poetry lovers, and public officials, among others, serve as judges. Each type of judge brings unique perspective and experience to the process. The best panels have a balance of perspectives, reflecting the universal appeal of good poetry.

Judges will find themselves weighing very different recitations, and will need to measure accurately the strengths and weaknesses of each according to the established Poetry Out Loud evaluation criteria. The judging process will happen very quickly; judges will have no more than a minute between recitations to mark their scores. Familiarity with the evaluation criteria is essential.

This year, the webinar will include up to three guest judges. These individuals have all judged POL at the national level for several years and will be wonderful resources for questions and best practices. (If you can’t attend the live webinar, the session will be archived at

Below are links to resources on judging from Poetry Out Loud, as well as example videos from 2012's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers.

Download the Judge's Guide

Advice for Judges

Learning Recitation

2015 1st Place
2015 2nd Place
2015 3rd Place