Huge congratulations to Harriet Short (Y11) who has been awarded second place in the top ten for her recitations of ‘Miss Loo’ by Walter de la Mare and ‘The Fish’ by Andrew Motion at the Poetry by Heart National Competition. This is Urmston Grammar’s best performance in the contest, equalled only by Beth Molyneux three years ago.
Yusuf Hassen and Freya Leech were also honoured for being placed in the national top ten for their joint recitation of Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’; while English teacher, Mrs. E. Sandys, who coordinates the competition for Urmston Grammar, was similarly honoured for being a top ten national finalist in the school staff individual recitation competition. She won a certificate for her recitation of Gillian Clarke’s ‘Miracle on St. David’s Day’.
The winning entrants all submitted videoed recitations of their chosen poems. Their performances were then judged by an impressive team of poets and poetry experts, including poets Glyn Maxwell, Daljit Nagra, Paul Munden, Valerie Blume, Raymond Antrobus and Joshua Seigal; expert poetry anthologist Allie Esiri, and poetry educators Charlotte Hacking of CLPE and David Whitley of Homerton College, Cambridge. Mike Dixon and Julie Blake from Poetry by Heart moderated and adjudicated the process to ensure that all contestants were judged fairly and according to the Poetry by Heart criteria. Of Harriet’s performance of ‘Miss Loo’, the judges said: “This is a clear and charming reading of this little biography with excellent phrasing and affectionate recall. You used really good shifts of voice to capture the shifts in tone. A very accomplished rendition of this poem.” And of her reading of ‘The Fish in Australia’, this: “We really enjoyed this thoughtful and affecting reading, with an impressive range of colour, conveying the experience of the narrator and capturing the sense of underlying menace. Your delivery was outstanding with superb pacing and pauses, a composed and clean execution.”
The judges also warmly praised Yusuf and Freya’s performance, saying: “There was a real sense of ownership of the meaning of the poem from your paired presentation, particularly in the careful attention to word and line. The images of the poem were also made very vivid.” And Mrs. Sandys’ recitation was described by the judges as an “emotive and rhythmically varied performance of Clarke’s poem about the power of poetry and memory.”
What an amazing haul of accolades and prizes! Seriously, very well done to all of you!