On Wednesday 18 January, Year 11 attended Poetry Live! at the Hexagon Theatre in Reading. It was a day of poetry recitals and help from examiners.
We started the day with Gillian Clarke reciting her poem ‘Snow’. Year 11 took from the first examiner session how to tackle the unseen poem question in our GCSE exam. The examiner who spoke was incredibly helpful along with talking through various example answers using Clarke’s ‘Snow’.
Afterwards, Carol Ann Duffy (Poet Laureate) told us the story behind ‘War Photographer’ and then recited it for us. She also took us through her inspiration for the poem and who she based it on (Donald McCullin).
The last examiner session of the day focused on the comparing of poems. Clarke’s ‘Snow’ made a reappearance along with a different poem ‘Rain’ by Edward Thomas. In this session, the examiner gave us a helpful insight as to what should be written. He also gave us helpful commentary on different example answers.
After a short break, we welcomed to the stage Simon Armitage who recited several poems, one with the beat of ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ by Bob Dylan. This provided a lively start to his section! In the Power and Conflict anthology, Year 11 study ‘Remains’ by Armitage, a thought provoking poem about a soldier having to relive a memory of war. It was a pleasure to hear first-hand about how this poem took shape and listen to how Armitage read it.
Daljit Nagra gave us a rousing performance of his poem ‘Singh Song!’ After the spirited Nagra came Imtiaz Dharker, with her absorbing poem ‘Tissue’ – a captivating piece using tissue paper as an extended metaphor for life. The thrilling Grace Nicholls delighted us with renditions of some of her poems from her book ‘Cosmic Disco’ and finally the man that caused Year 11 to give the most hysterical applause of the day, John Agard.
He gave an animated reciting of ‘Checking Out Me History’, a lively poem about the bias towards whites in history. By the end, the whole Theatre was whooping at Agard’s delightful and riveting poem.
The whole day can be capped off by several Year 11 pupils meeting John Agard outside and taking multiple selfies with him!
Thank you to the English department for organising such a lovely trip and putting up with our tuneful singing of ‘Baby’ by Justin Bieber on the coach home!
By Abigail, Year 11