Poetry Live 2024

Recently, all of Year 11 went on a trip to the Hexagon to attend Poetry Live, which as Mrs Munns described it, is the Poets’ Oscars!  We listened to a wide range of poets, some of which were from our specification and some of which were not - either way, it was fascinating to hear them.

We listened to Carol Ann Duffy talk about the ideas behind her poems ‘Valentine’, ‘War Photographer’ and ‘Before You Were Mine’. She talked about how significant the shape of a poem could be, which was a really illuminating view of looking at poetry which we hadn’t really thought about before.

We then had a very entertaining and comedic section with Daljit Nagra, who spoke about his poems ‘Fallacy’ and ‘Singh Song’. Although his poetry is not included in the anthology, it was still useful to hear his inspiring words about poetry, and we had fun listening to poems we had not encountered before.

We also had the honour of hearing the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage talk about his poems ‘Manhunt’, ‘Zodiac T-shirt’ and others. He had many interesting insights into the world of poetry and life as a Poet Laureate.

We heard from poet Imtiaz Dharker, talking us through her poems ‘Living Space’ and ‘Tissue’, the emotional message and deeper subtexts of those poems, and the personal memories that inspired her to write them.

We also listened to poet Owen Sheers read his poems ‘Winter Swans’ and ‘Mametz Wood’. His poems ranged from the subjects of gruelling, hopeless war to the joys and hopes of fatherhood, showcasing the range of emotions that poetry can portray and really giving us an appreciation for it.

Last but not least, we had the famous John Agard, who we were all eagerly awaiting - and he was just as amazing as we all expected. He definitely gave the performance of the day, entertaining us with his musicality as he read his poems across a range of surprising topics, going from apples to geometry.

However, we didn’t just listen to poems - we also got some top tips from a chief examiner on how to compare and understand poems we haven’t seen before, which we’ll be doing in GCSE exams in the summer. It was really beneficial to hear about exactly what examiners are looking for when they mark our papers, and we all gained a lot from this experience.

Overall, it was a very valuable experience that we learnt a lot from.  We were able to make many more annotations to our anthology poems which will definitely help later in our exams, learnt some new skills and techniques for analysing poetry, and, of course, had a lot of fun along the way! Thank you so much to the English Department and other staff who organised this trip and made it possible - we had so much fun!

Joanna and Koyenum, Year 11