Alphonse Osbert, La Muse au Lever du Soleil, 1918

Fifth Annual Poetry Recitation Contest: Program and Winners

Congratulations to all who participated in the Fifth Annual French Poetry Recitation Contest held at Cal State LA!
Many thanks to our judges:

Antonia Rigaud, Higher Education and French Language Attachée, Consulate General of France in Los Angeles (all levels)
Anaïs Lintow, French Language Officer, Consulate General of France in Los Angeles (all levels)
Marie-Magdeleine Chirol, Vice President of Communications, AATF-SC (high school levels)
Inès du Cos de la Hitte, President, AATF-SC (college levels)

We are pleased to announce all our prize winners, and especially our Grand Prize High School winner, Charlotte Holder from Polytechnic School in Pasadena, for her reading of Jacques Prévert's "Familiale," and our Grand Prize College winner, Tahseen Takleh, for his reading of his own poem about Syria, "Je suis." All winners are listed in the files below:
Overall 2017 Contest Results
2017 Contest Results - College levels detail
2017 Contest Results - High school levels detail

Photos of the event can be found on the Facebook page of the Cal State LA Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.
The program can be downloaded here.

Thanks again to our sponsoring organizations and to EF International Language Centers and Taix Restaurant for their prize donations.

See you next year!

Concours de récitation poétique: General Information

The French Poetry Recitation Contest is an annual event co-sponsored by the Modern Languages Department at Cal State L.A., MCLASC, the AATF-SoCal, and the French Mission for Culture and Higher Education in the United States. If you have participated before, welcome back! If it is your first time participating, please read carefully all the information on this page.

Contestants and observers: The contest is open to all high school and college French students in the Los Angeles area, subject to space and time limitations. Anyone may attend the contest as an audience member. Beginning students may wish to observe one year and compete the next. Family, friends, and Francophile community members are welcome! Contact Dr. Gretchen Angelo ( for information on location and directions.

Songs, skits, speeches: Only recitations of literary poems are eligible for competition. However, we also invite individuals or groups to perform songs, skits, speeches, etc. in between divisions as judges confer; this can be done instead of or in addition to entering the recitation contest.

Directions and parking: click here.

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


All participants in the contest are eligible to enter a drawing for a one-week course in Paris or Nice (under-16: Nice only), including airfare, donated by EF International Language Centers, specializing in language immersion courses offered to individual students or teacher-led groups. Winner must be present at the time of the drawing.

The sponsoring organizations -- Cal State L.A. Department of Modern Languages and Literatures; MCLASC, the Modern and Classical Language Association of Southern California; and AATF-SoCal, the American Association of Teachers of French - Southern California Chapter -- have generously funded the contest including the venue, certificates for all participants, a grand prize for the college winner, and gift cards for second- and third-place winners. Additional prizes may be awarded as donated by local businesses and cultural organizations.

Our local business sponsors this year include Taix French restaurant in Echo Park, who has generously donated a $50 gift certificate.

The French Mission for Culture and Higher Education will award poetry anthologies to the lauréats in each division.

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

Concours de récitation poétique: Deadlines

Space and time restrictions may limit the number of participants. In order to give students equal chances for participation and recognition, the following deadlines must be observed. 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. The following start times are now final.
    Beginning at approximately 9:30 am
  1. French 2 high school students
  2. French 3 high school students
  3. French 4 / French 5 / AP high school students
  4. High school students who are native or heritage speakers*
  5. Judges' consultation on high school prizes

    11:30 am
    Presentation and drawing for EF trip

    Beginning at 11:45-12:00 pm
  6. Beginning college students
  7. Intermediate college students
  8. Advanced college students
  9. Judges' consultation on college prizes

    Awarding of prizes
    All prizes will be awarded at the end of the contest, around 1:30 pm; if a student needs to leave early due to afternoon commitments, the teacher may inform the judges in advance and if the calculations are complete, we will try to award any winning student with his/her prize before departure.
*Teachers are responsible for informing me if any high school student is native or near-native (e.g. a heritage speaker with one or more French-speaking parents); we currently have only one heritage speaker registered, so there will be no heritage-speaker division but students are still eligible for special awards by judges and the EF trip drawing.

Individual level start times: The start times for the overall high school and college divisions are fixed; the progress through each division cannot be predicted with exactitude as it depends on how fast students read, if there are no-shows, etc.. Students who have not arrived by the completion of their division will not be allowed to compete, although they may still read their poem hors concours if they wish to do so. Students in French 4 and 5 can assume that they will start after 10:30; advanced college students will probably not read until close to 1pm, but must arrive by 11:30 to participate in the drawing.

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

Most students choose to take a copy of their poem to the podium just in case, 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 longer poem, of 24-60 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 2017 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. The first sections contain well-known poems that are perennial favorites, for intermediate or advanced students; the last section offers some poems suggested as part of this year's theme, La Nature. Any literary poem originally written in the French language may be recited for competition. The competition excludes songs, poems translated from another language, and other forms of recitation such as speeches, but students may perform these as explained above.

All of the poems listed here 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 can be delivered beautifully by students at any level.

Classic poems for intermediate students, listed chronologically Classic poems for advanced students, listed chronologically 2017 Theme: La Nature
Large numbers of Romantic poems take Nature as a theme. Hugo, Lamartine, Musset furnish great examples. Here are some other poems about Nature, just a selection to get you started: To find poems, the following sites are useful:

Previous Contest Information and Winners:

2016 Contest information and poems

Winners in the 2016 French Poetry Recitation Contest

2015 Contest information and poems

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

Sponsored by the
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Cal State LA in conjunction with
and The French Mission for Culture and Higher Education in the United States.
2017 French Poetry Recitation Contest

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures
at Cal State LA,
in conjunction with MCLASC and AATF-SoCal,
and with the support of the
French Mission for Culture and Higher Education in the United States,

is pleased to announce our fifth annual
French Poetry Recitation Contest,
Saturday, February 25, 2017, 9:30 am - 2:00 pm
on the Cal State LA campus,
MUS 149.

The contest is open to high school, community college, and university students.