“Taking a poem into your heart makes it part of you. Saying a poem aloud makes you part of its life in the world. This is a rich and nourishing relationship that can last a lifetime.” Jean Sprackland
Poetry By Heart is a national competition designed to encourage pupils aged 14-18 and at school and college in England to learn and to recite poems by heart. Not in an arm-waving, props-supported thespian extravaganza, but as the outward and audible manifestation of an inwardly-understood and enjoyed poem. The website http://www.poetrybyheart.org.uk/ has all the information you need and is also packed with useful resources.
Poetry By Heart successfully engages young people from diverse social backgrounds and all types of school in personal discovery of the pleasures of poetry. Each pupil is challenged to memorise and recite two poems – one published before 1914 and one in or after 1914 or one from a special collection of World War 1 poems as part of the centenary commemorations.. Pupils choose these from the timeline anthology of over 600 years of poetry on this website. In 2015-16, for the Grand Finals, contestants will recite a third poem.
The competition is a pyramid of participation from individual classrooms to whole school/college contests, then county contests, regional semi-finals and the grand final, to be held at Homerton College, Cambridge on March 17th – 19th 2016. In the process, pupils foster deep personal connections with the poems chosen and bring poetry alive for their friends, families and communities.
Ledbury Poetry Festival is delighted to be organising the county contest on Saturday 27 February in Ledbury. Details to follow. In the meantime do spread the word about this competition to schools and school librarians.
The former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion is Co-Director of the Poetry Archive and plays a lead role in Poetry By Heart. He commented:
“Poetry By Heart has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2013. Many thousands of students have not only learned great poems for life but they have also shared them with friends and families in the inspiring and moving performances that are at the heart of every competition. I am constantly surprised and delighted by the quality of the students’ achievements.”