Poetry by Heart Final

Chew Valley held its first Poetry by Heart final on Wednesday evening this week. Poetry By Heart is a pioneering national competition designed to encourage pupils aged 14-18 and at school and college in England to learn and to recite poems by heart. Six of our students have been working incredibly hard to prepare recitations of two poems, one modern poem and one written before 1914. 

All of the recitations were brimming with confidence, poise and emotion. Ruth Emery, struggling with illness, pulled off a comic and engaging version of Benjamin Zephaniah's "It's Work", whlist Polly Denny managed to entertain and chill the audience with Peter Porter's blackly comic "Your Attention Please". Charlie Ellis's performances of poems by R.L. Stevenson and Basil Bunting showed great skill and fluency, and Corinne Bowen commanded the stage with mesmerising performances of "There is no God" by Arthur Hugh Clough and "How to kill" by Keith Douglas. 

The event was judged by Mr Mallett (Headteacher), Mr Conway (Head of Performing Arts), Mr Hack (previous Deputy Headteacher and Governor of the school) and Head Judge Julie Nicholson, whose expertise in the performing arts and poetry was invaluable. She commented that runner-up Jocelyn Barker's performance of "Envy" by Adelaide Ann Proctor moved her to tears, whilst her second performance (of Wendy Cope's "Proverbial Ballad") showed versatility with a deadpan comic turn. 

The length of the judges' deliberations showed that the competition was incredibly close, but the eventual winner was Lucy Reynolds, whose stillness was praised by the judging panel. It allowed her to communicate the complexities of two difficult poems by Charlotte Smith and Grace Nichols with great poise, connecting the audience directly with the meaning of the words and "inhabiting" the poems. Lucy now goes forward to represent Chew Valley in the regional final at the Egg Theatre in Bath in February. 

Deputy Headteacher Chris Hildrew commented on twitter: "amazing, moving evening at the Poetry by Heart final. Great competition; great competitors. Bring on the regionals!" whilst Steve Conway wrote "What a fantastic @poetrybyheart evening. Thank you so much to all those who performed such wonderful poems."