Jean-François-Prosper Guérin, La Liseuse, 1875-1939
Concours de récitation poétique: General InformationThe 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) for information on location and directions.
Songs, skits, speeches: Only recitations of literary poems are eligible for competition and prizes. However, we also welcome the performance hors concours of songs, skits, speeches, etc. to entertain the audience 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.
Prizes!More detailed information on prizes will be announced as we obtain additional sponsorships.
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 businesses and cultural organizations.
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: DeadlinesSpace 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.
- As soon as you have information, but no later than Wednesday, February 7: Email the organizer (Gretchen Angelo, email@example.com) to register your school's participation. Indicate approximate numbers of students who wish to participate on each level. Usually all students are able to participate; however, in some years with unusually high turnout, we must limit participation to three students per level per school; if this happens, you will be informed by February 19 and can hold runoff contests in your own classrooms to determine your school's representatives. Please make this number as precise as possible so that we can accurately predict the timeline. Also inform organizer of any students who wish to perform a song, skit, speech, etc. hors concours.
- By Monday, February 19: Submit the exact names of contestants, as well as the poem each will read, so that the program and participation certificates can be prepared. You should receive a confirmation email within 24 hours, which we ask that you double-check for accuracy. Students are disappointed if their information in the program is incorrect; please help us avoid any errors. You must submit any corrections by Wednesday, February 20. Any corrections/ new participants submitted after this date will not appear in the program.
Concours de récitation poétique: Divisions and ScheduleStudents will read in order of level. The following start times are approximate and will depend on the number of participants registered. If the field is relatively small, we will award all prizes at the end; if the field is larger, we may award high school prizes at the conclusion of the high school portion.
Beginning at approximately 9:30 am
- French 2 high school students
- French 3 high school students
- French 4 / French 5 / AP high school students
- High school students who are native or heritage speakers* Judges' consultation on high school prizes
- Beginning college students
- Intermediate college students
- Advanced college students Judges' consultation on college prizes
Beginning at approximately 11:30-12:00 pm
Awarding of prizes
Individual level start times: 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. An updated timeline will be published after Monday, Feburary 19, when all entries have been received.
Judging CriteriaStudents 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 studentsThere are many ways to prepare your students to participate in the poetry contest. For example:
- Make poetry part of the curriculum;
- Model poems' reading for them, paying attention to all the items listed in the rubric
- Analyze the texts carefully so they have a good understanding of what they will be reading
- Give extra credit to students willing to participate, whatever their level of success
- Remind them that it looks good on college and scholarship applications
- Make sure they pick a text that matches their proficiency
- Have them practice in groups and individually
- Organize mock or runoff contests in the classroom
- Have students take turns judging each other's performances
- Make sure that the whole school is aware of your competition
Choosing a poemMost 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 2018 ThemeStudents 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, Le monde contemporain. 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 starred poems are chosen most frequently; students wishing not to recite the same poem as several others are advised to avoid them. 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
- Ronsard: "A Cassandre" ("Mignonne, allons voir...")
- Chenier, "Sans parents, sans amis..."
- Nerval, "Fantaisie"
- *Hugo, "Demain, dès l'aube"
- Baudelaire, "Invitation au voyage"
- *Verlaine, "Ariette oubliée 3" ("Il pleure dans mon coeur")
- Rimbaud, "Sensation"
- *Apollinaire, "Le pont Mirabeau"
Classic poems for advanced students, listed chronologically
- Louise Labé, Sonnet 8 ou 14
- DuBellay, "Heureux qui comme Ulysse ..."
- Hugo, "Exil"
- Lamartine, "La fenetre de la maison paternelle"
- Leconte de Lisle, "Solvet Seclum"
- Nerval, "Vers dorés"
- Baudelaire, "La chevelure"
- Aragon, "Les mains d'Elsa"
This year, we are highlighting lesser-known Francophone poets of the late 20th century or those currently working, especially from Francophone Africa and the Antilles, whose poems examine solitude, politics, immigration, and other issues of modern society. Here are some poems that you may like (you may need to search within the linked page for the cited poem, and in doing so may find another you prefer!); others can be found in published anthologies. You can also backtrack from these specific links to the larger websites, to find other poems, biographies of these poets, and other poets that might interest you. As with all these lists, these are just suggestions of poems that I think may resonate with students.
- Fatou Dioffé Bâ, "Bonheur"
- Ahmed Barakat, "Sérénité"
- Aimé Césaire, "Et les chiens se taisaient"
- Janine Philippe-Chafwehé, "Cri sans tumulte"
- Achille Chavée, "La brigade internationale"
- Georges Cocks, "Couleur terre"
- Édouart Glissant, "Souvenir"
- Esther Granek, "Bruyants Silences"
- Abdoulaye Guissé, "Peuple guisé"
- Hermann Kenfack, "Demain tu t'en iras"
- Max Rippon, "Ma déchirure"
- Léopold Sédar Senghor, "Je suis seul"
- Kalyre Slam, "Immigration Mortelle"
- Guy Tirolien, "Prière d'un petit enfant nègre
- Matchadé Yogolipaka, "L'avenir, c'est aujourd'hui"
- Poemes.co; has large sections on "Poètes célèbres" and "Poètes Contemporains
- Poésie française par Webnet: 6000 poems, searchable by author, "Random poem" button also available.
- Poetica.fr, poems organized by theme
- Poésie-française.fr, poems searchable by poet; a few specific themes and poets are featured
- Wheaton College, Vive Voix, poems searchable by poet or verse; all accompanied by audio files.
- Un jour un poème, 9000+ poèmes, plus 125 biographies, searchable by century or poet
Previous Contest Information and Winners:2017 Contest information and poems including links to winners and photos
Winners in the 2017 French Poetry Recitation Contest
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.