Reciting poetry isn't just about reading: it's about controlling the volume, pace, rhythm, intonation, and pronunciation of the words closely. Usually, especially in poetry competitions, you will have a microphone, but either way you have to really take care to use the proper volume.
- Project to the audience. Capture the attention of everyone, including the people in the back row.
- Don’t mistake yelling for good projection.
- Proceed at a fitting and natural pace.
- Avoid nervously rushing through the poem.
- Do not speak so slowly that the language sounds unnatural or awkward or to create a false sense of drama.
- With rhymed poems, be careful not to recite in a sing-song manner.
- Line breaks are a defining feature of poetry. Decide whether a break requires a pause and, if so, how long to pause.
Qualities of a strong recitation:
- All words pronounced correctly, and the volume, rhythm, and intonation greatly enhance the recitation. Pacing appropriate to the poem.
I've included some video examples from the Poetry Out Loud competition as well!
- Jackson Hille “Forgetfulness” by Billy Collins
- Madison Niermeyer “I Am Waiting” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
- Kareem Sayegh “The Man-Moth” by Elizabeth Bishop