Monday, November 05, 2007

IR round...hits a new low...

I hate judging Interpretive Reading because there's always that kid who chooses drunk driving as a topic, with breathtakingly horrible poetry and prose that contains a dead kid looking at his crying parents going past his coffin and saying "Mom, Dad, I'm so sorry." And it's always delivered by the cutest, most earnest, round-faced sophomore girl you've ever seen, so I feel especially guilty at my evil thoughts, and bite the insides of my cheeks until it ends, writing something on the ballot about "I'd like to see you find material more suited to your talents!"

Last week...ugh. A kid delivered an IR on global warming where this was the poem. She bounced along through the silly rhythms and pallid, predictable rhymes, but only after gushing in the intro about how this poem "won an award" for environmentalist poetry. Literary merit? Hello? The internet has been horrible for IR...

But worse, the kid read newspaper articles for her prose. She read them passionately and forcefully, but they were newspaper articles.

She lost to the kid who had terrorism as her topic. I don't remember her poem, and I don't want to.

And both of these kids were such good, sweet, earnest kids, sweetly delivering a sweet, earnest poem by a sweet, earnest poet. Somehow, that makes me even snippier and more evil.

Last kid I had on IR did baseball. Another did cows. Still another: failure at sports. THAT'S an IR, baby.

6 comments:

tommyspoon said...

Point of order, Mr. TRP: are you judging the delivery or the material selected? Just curious.

This is roughly analogous to those lists of monologues that directors never want to hear again. Ask a director if she wants to hear the "anal probe" speech from "Passionfish" again. ;-)

TeacherRefPoet said...

Both are on the ballot, so both. But it's also, I think, literally impossible to win, at least in my mind, with a lot of the crappy material I've seen. Orson Welles might be able to read the phone book and make me cry, but he won't be able to read newspaper articles or The Ann Landers Drunk Driving Poem and win any round I'm judging. Selection matters.

tommyspoon said...

Thanks for the clarification. I agree: material matters. But I also don't want to hear "To be or not to be..." done by someone who doesn't know what the hell they're doing.

Joe said...

One of the hard things is finding material suited to the person delivering it. Our high school speech & debate coach had a stockpile of "can't miss" material, which he let people cut their teeth on. It was a useful way of teaching kids how to pick and edit a good cutting. Unfortunately, sometimes kids went into events with good material that they just weren't ready for yet. They generally got middling ranks.

(And, compounding the problem with good material, sometimes the judges asked "didn't I see someone from your team doing this better last year?)

A good piece can only make a bad speaker look OK... but a bad piece can make a good speaker stink.

TeacherRefPoet said...

And beyond that...I'd certainly rather see a not-so-good kid making an effort at a great piece than a good kid doing newsprint and horrible poetry to the best of his ability. Not even close, in fact.

Paula Reed said...

Oh God, the horrible poem about the "good girl" who is killed by the drunk driver. You know, the one that says "mom" after every sentence:

I'm lying in the road, Mom,
Got hit by a truck.
And Mom, I'm still a virgin,
I never even got to--

At least, I think that's how it goes...