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THE JUDGES' GUIDELINES: We use the word "poem" to include text and performance taken together. Some judges like to attribute separate numerical values to various elements of a poem (e.g., the importance of the topic, imagery, metaphors, articulation, gestures, and other less tangible elements). Others prefer to take a more holistic approach. Whatever approach you choose, please, give each poem only one score on a scale from 0.0 (= the worst possible poem) to 10.0 (= the perfect poem). Use only one decimal point.
Penalties for overtime might come up, but the timekeeper and scorekeeper will determine this after you submit your score.
The audience may try to influence you; they may applaud you or boo you. That's their prerogative. Please remember that in a quiet poem, the audience has no way to communicate what they're experiencing.
Be fair and consistent! As long as the better poem gets the better score, you're doing your job well. If you give the first poem a seven and the other judges give it a nine, that doesn't mean you should give the second poem a nine unless it's a lot better than the first poem.
Although the high and low scores will be thrown out, don't ever make a joke out of your score thinking that it doesn't really matter. A poem about geometry does not automatically deserve PI as a score. Nor does one about failing a breathalyzer test deserve a 0.08.
Scores sometimes rise as the night progresses. That's called "Score Creep." Remember that poets performed in the randomized order. So, the first poem you hear may be the best poem of the night. In order to minimize score creep, you may want to keep record of scores you give. As long as you stay consistent, you're doing your job well.
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