A Quick Guide to the NJYPL Criteria and Judging Form

There are three sections to the adjudication form:

  • An intuitive take on the poems (required)
  • A “critical response” based on our set criteria (required)
  • A written response section (optional)

First Take

The intuitive take on the poem does not have to match the “critical response.” Nor does your ranking of the poems in the first question need to match the number of stars you give each poem in the second question. We are just looking for “gut” responses, here.

“Critical Response”

Judging poems with “likerts” is difficult, but given the volume of submissions, we needed to narrow down the field in some way. We understand this is still a subjective process, and we appreciate your patience with us on this.  A rough definition of each criteria:

Given the fact that we are honoring a “Poet Laureate,” we are looking for the student with exceptional skill and mastery.

Unique Voice. We are looking for a sense of poetry that is not interested in being derivative, someone who is honoring their particular take on the world.

Originality of Thought. Is the idea expressed in the poem new or unusual? Is it saying something familiar in a new and different way?

Authenticity.  Do you get the sense that the sentiments expressed are strongly and deeply held by the writer?

Sophisticated understanding of what a poem can be and do.  In the poem, do you get the sense that the writer has a sophisticated sense of the unique way poetry can evoke meaning?

Craft. In the form within which it is working, does the poem exhibit an understanding of the craft associated with that form?

Intention. Does the poem seem to have a clear point in mind?

Successful Execution. If the point is clear, does the poem successfully get to where it intends to go.

Final Assessment. Taking into account everything in the “critical analysis,” how good a poem do you think this one is. This does not have to match your intuitive response from section one.

Recommend the Writer. This is more a recommendation of the writer as a whole based on what you have read, and it does not necessarily have to be based on the sum of the criteria.

Written Responses

This section is completely optional. There is a field for each poem, if you wish to make a clarifying comment. There is also a field for any comments on the writer in general.