Paul Cezanne, le Reve du poete

Concours de récitation poétique: General Information

Feb 24 update: Registered teachers and college students should have gotten an informational email on February 24. All information on students (name, poem, level, etc.) must be received by February 25 in order for students to participate. If you did not receive either the Feb 13 or the Feb 24 email, contact the organizer immediately at

The French Poetry Recitation Contest is an annual event co-sponsored by the Modern Languages Department at CSU Los Angeles, MCLASC, and the AATF-SC. This year, we are delighted to also receive support from the French Consulate in Los Angeles. If you have participated before, welcome back! If it is your first time participating, please read carefully all the information on this page. The contest is open to all high school and college French students in the Los Angeles area, subject to space and time limitations. Teachers are encouraged to practice poetry recitation and discussion in class with all students. If numbers must be limited, you can hold in-class contests to choose your school's official candidates.

Songs, etc. : Only poetic recitations are eligible for competition. However, any students who wish to sing or dramatize a poem, either individually or in a group, are very welcome to do so hors concours, instead of or in addition to an official entry. Such performances will be scheduled between divisions.

Judges: Teachers who do not have students to participate this year but are interested in judging the contest, or simply wish to observe it, are welcome! Contact the organizer.

Flyer: To download this year's flyer to post in your classroom, click here.


The sponsoring organizations -- CSULA Department of Modern Languages and Literatures; MCLASC, the Modern and Classical Language Association of Southern California; and AATF-SC, the American Association of Teachers of French - Southern California Chapter-- have generously funded the contest including the venue, refreshments, and certificates for all participants, as well as some prizes. We are also very grateful to local businesses and cultural organizations who have donated additional prizes for the winners.

There will be at least one winner in each division; second- and third-place prizes as well as honorable mentions will be awarded on levels with sufficient numbers of participants and meritorious performances.

Prizes to be offered include (this list will be updated as we receive additional donations!):
and more!

Concours de récitation poétique: Deadlines

Space, time, and budget restrictions limit the number of participants, and as the contest grows each year, we will abide by the following procedures and deadlines to allow participation by the greatest number of schools. High school students must be registered by their teachers; college students may register themselves individually or their professors may register them.

Concours de récitation poétique: Divisions and Schedule

Students will read in order of level, as follows:
  1. French 2 HS students
  2. French 3 HS students
  3. French 4 / French AP students
  4. Lower-division college students
  5. Upper-division college students
Please note: Native or heritage speakers (i.e., children who have one or more French-speaking parent(s)) are welcome to participate, but are not eligible to compete for prizes against non-native speakers. Teachers are responsible for informing me if any student is native or near-native; if there are sufficient numbers, we may be able to have a separate division and prizes for them.

Event schedule.
(Schedule depends in part on how quickly students read and whether there are any no-shows; students are encouraged to attend the entire event. The following times are estimates only; students who have not arrived by the start of their level will not be allowed to compete in their division, although they may still read their poem hors concours if they wish to do so.)

10:00 ∼ 11:30 French 2 and French 3 competitions
11:30 ∼ 1:00 AP French and college competitions
1:00 ∼ 2:00 Conclusion of readings, Refreshments, Judges' conference, Award ceremony

Judging Criteria

Students will be judged on diction, clarity, and expression. The following factors will be considered:

voyelles orales et nasales; e muet; semi-voyelles; consonnes; détente finale; R;
enchainement et liaisons; intonation et rythme

volume; contact visuel; gestes; présence; compréhension du texte; versification; créativité

Preparing your students

There are many ways to prepare your students to participate in the poetry contest. For example: For some sample classroom activities and techniques for using poetry in high school classes, download my presentation on "La poésie en cours de lycée" from the MCLASC 2013 Jamboree.

Choosing a poem

Students may take a copy of their poem to the podium, but delivery is vastly improved when the poem has been memorized through practice.

We recommend that high school and lower-division college students choose a 14-24 line poem; third- and fourth-year college students, if they wish, may select a slightly longer poem, of 24-48 verses. The length of the poem is unimportant if the poem is well-delivered.

Advice to students: Choose a poem that you enjoy and that has some meaning for you. The better you understand your poem, the better your delivery will be, so you might want to search for a translation, a commentary, etc. You can also find youtube videos of poems; listen to a few versions of your chosen poem both to improve your pronunciation and to get a sense of how different deliveries change the impact of the poem. The lists below are given in rough chronological order, and are only examples of some of the best-known French poems and poets from each period. I have provided links to a number of different types of sites, from simple texts to commentaries and recitations with music and video.

Les Grands Classiques and 2015 Theme

Students may choose any poem, and it is great to see the variety of poems chosen. These lists are intended for teachers and students who are not sure where to start. All of these poems are lovely in recitation and highlight the sonority of the French language. The second group of poems is recommended only for advanced students because of their length or complexity, but a longer poem is not automatically a better choice; the poems in the first group are classics that could be delivered beautifully by students at either level.

Classic poems for intermediate students, listed chronologically Classic poems for advanced students, listed chronologically 2015 Theme Each year we offer links to poems on a specific theme, in order to give repeat contestants or teachers some ideas for new poems. Our 2015 theme, chosen as an affirmation of Francophone solidarity after the January 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, is Fraternité, as expressed in poems of friendship, love, or reminiscence. Here are some possible poems, arranged alphabetically by author, to give you a sense of the theme:

Previous Contest Information and Winners:

Winners in the 2014 French Poetry Recitation Contest

2014 Contest information and poems

Winners in the 2013 French Poetry Recitation Contest

News Release about 2013 College Division Winner
2015 French Poetry Recitation Contest

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
at CSU Los Angeles,
in conjunction with MCLASC and AATF-SC,
and with the support of the French Consulate in Los Angeles,
is pleased to announce our third annual
French Poetry Recitation Contest,
Saturday, February 28, 2015, 10 am -2 pm,
on the CSU Los Angeles campus.

The contest is open to high school, community college, and university students.
  • Contestants must register by deadlines below.
  • Each student recites one poem, chosen in advance.
  • Students compete within divisions based on level.
  • Judges award prizes to up to three winners in each division.
  • The AATF-SC will award a special prize to an overall winner.
  • The French Consulate will award poetry anthologies to three lauréats.
  • Additional students may win prizes for honorable mention.