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2024 MC Poetry Contest Criteria


Contestants in this year’s MC Poetry & Spoken Word Competition must submit a video presentation of an original piece of poetry (no longer than 7 minutes) along with a) a written copy of the work and b) a short biography. Submissions can be made via the Google Form linked on the previous page (requires Google sign-in).

The contest is open to all topics; however, vulgar, homophobic, sexist, racist, and ableist content will not be tolerated.

The following is a copy of the criteria our panel of judges will be using to score each submission.

Updated January 2024

Content / Theme / Subject: 25 points (5 points per section)

Originality: Subject matter is fresh and unique.
(1=derivative; 5=novel)

Relevance: Subject matter is topical and relevant.
(1=irrelevant, trivial; 5=pertinent, relatable)

Thought Provoking: Poem excites and makes the viewer/reader think and reflect.
(1=uninspiring; 5=captivating, inspiring)

Insightful: Poem offers a meaningful perspective.
(1=vapid, shallow, uniformed; 5=astute, thoughtful, informed)

Theme: Poem has a clear, identifiable message or feeling.
(1=unclear, confusing; 5=concise and pointed)


Language: 30 Points (10 points per section + Michael clause)

Structure: The poem’s structure & language are intentional and effective.  
(1=lack of care; 10=deliberate, effective)

Creative Language: The poem employs creative and engaging vocabulary, rhetoric, and literary devices.
(1=plain, unimaginative; 10=artistic, inventive, stimulating)

Descriptive Language / Imagery: The poem paints vivid pictures with its words and literary devices.
(1=no descriptive language; 10=clear, evocative imagery)

The MC Clause – Spelling: We expect polished spelling, as Michael would have intended. 1 point will be deducted for any obvious, unintentional spelling errors.
(up to -5 points; -1 point per error)


Poetic Qualities: 30 Points (10 points per section)

Rhythm: The poem has good rhythm and movement which complements the subject matter. This includes line/stanza breaks, breaths, pauses, cadence, and the rise and fall of emphasis throughout the poem.
(1=inconsistent, jarring; 10=consistent, fluid, effective)

Sound: The poem uses sound effectively. This might include sound devices such as rhyme, alliteration, and dissonance.
(1=flat, ineffective; 10=thoughtful, expressive, effective)

Symbolism / Figurative Language: The poem engages the reader with creative figurative language, including original imagery, symbolism, and other devices.
(1=none; 10=inventive, effective devices employed)


Presentation: 25 Points (10 points for Creativity, 5 for the following three)

Creativity: The video presentation has strong visual interest and creative direction, including attention to setting.
(1=lacks creativity, dull; 10=highly creative, captivating)

Production: The video is technically well-executed in terms of lighting, sound, and editing.
(1=dimly lit, hard to hear, lacks editing; 5=well lit, enunciated, appropriate volume, polished)

Originality: The video presentation is overall original with unique or atypical elements.
(1=plain, derivative; 5=unique, conceptual)

Voice / Passion: The speaker demonstrates voice clarity and passion for the poem and subject.
(1=cold, indifferent; 5=authentic, believable, spirited)

Each submission (both video and written works) will be judged on the above criteria by our panel of qualified judges on the above noted scales.

The highest possible score is 110 points. The three highest scoring contestants will win cash prizes!