Types of Speech & Debate: Prose and Poetry

Purpose of Prose and Poetry Interpretation

Prose and Poetry Interpretation (PP), is an individual event where the student delivers a mixed selection of literature appropriate for the student’s personality and maturity. Rather than using a piece chosen from a single source as in other interpretation events, in PP selections may be cut from a single source or from several selections developing a specific theme. The student provides enough introduction to advise the audience of the title and author as well as how it relates to the theme of the program. The source for a prose and poetry piece may include published printed novels, short stories, plays, poems, and motion picture screenplays.

In presenting the PP Interpretation, the student conveys through oral interpretation the literature being presented, with the emphasis being placed on the literature. A good Prose and Poetry performer will use diction, facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, intonation, and pace of speech to improve the interpretation. However, the individual should avoid gestures or physical movement that distracts from the literature rather than enhances the performance and interpretation.

Video: Prose for Performance : Introduction to Prose for Performance

Rules for Prose and Poetry Competition

Because the emphasis in Prose and Poetry is even greater on the literature than in other events, students must use a manuscript, even if the presentation is from memory. The performer must at least give the impression that they are referring to the manuscript during the presentation. No other props are allowed besides the manuscript and cover.

Students may not use selections from identical sources to those that were used in a prior event, either in past years or in the current school year. During a particular tournament, the same selection must be used throughout the event, but the selection may not be used for any other event at the tournament.

The student or his or her coach must have the source of the material used available to provide to the tournament director at any time it is requested. When a student is not capable of producing a copy, then he or she will be ineligible for at least one round.

Usually, the introduction, which is required, is given at a natural break point about a minute or two into the delivery of the selection. The introduction gives the name of the author and title of the work, and the contestant briefly discusses the theme being developed by the performance.

There is a 10 minute time limit in Prose and Poetry competition with a maximum 30 second grace period for going over the time limit.

Tips for success in PP:

  1. Choose a great selection that is original, interesting, humorous or moving. Having a good piece will set you apart, especially if it compliments your personality and ability.
  2. Don’t skimp on the introduction. Work hard to make the introduction match the tone of your selection and make sure to close your binder to differentiate the introduction from your selection.
  3. Be careful when doing poetry to avoid repetitive voice patterns. Use your interpretive skills to provide the poetry with an original interpretation of your own.
  4. Use feedback in Prose and Poetry to determine the effectiveness of your selections. Choose selections that benefit the most from your style to avoid low scores.
  5. Use published works to avoid finding out that your own work is not as good as your think. Proven published works give you credibility and inhibit you from being judged harshly for the quality of the piece.

What is Prose and Poetry Interpretation? More Links:

Choosing poems for competition
Prose Piece Selection
Prose Reading: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Prose and Poetry Showcase Video on NFLtv