Congratulations to Brentwood School’s Alice Grundy who was awarded the runners-up spot in a national competition designed to encourage youngsters to learn and recite poems by heart.
Fourteen-year-old Alice was one of 41 finalists, all county competition winners, who took part in the Winners’ Weekend grand finale of Poetry By Heart held at Homerton College, Cambridge.
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. It inspires young people from diverse social backgrounds and all types of school to discover the pleasures of poetry.
Each pupil was 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 a timeline anthology of over 600 years of poetry.
Alice, who is in Year Four, was just pipped at the post to take a creditable second place. The contest was won by Jessica Mason from St John Rigby Sixth Form College in Wigan.
Alice actually learnt three poems: The Chimney Sweeper (William Blake), Out, Out (Robert Frost) and MCMXIV (Phillip Larkin). As well as competing and watching fellow competitors recite, Alice enjoyed a tour of Cambridge, a creative writing workshop, guided relaxation session and a talk on applying to University.
Deputy Head of English, Mr Steve Taylor, said: “Alice’s stunning recitation of the poems gave them meaning and emotion. She has a wonderful tone to her voice and the clarity of her diction illustrated the subtle nuances of each distinct poem. I am so thankful to Alice for taking part and so delighted that her commitment and talent has been recognised at a national level. She did herself and the School proud.”
Alice and the eight other finalists recited in front of a distinguished panel of judges from the world of poetry including Andrew Motion, Jean Sprackland, Daljit Nagra, Patience Agbabi, Glyn Maxwell and Tim Dee. The poet Jacob Sam-La Rose hosted the event throughout the weekend and on the Friday evening all seven poets read for the students in a remarkable event that saw each poet take to the stage for seven minutes.
“Poetry Please” from BBC Radio 4 recorded the students for a special “Poetry Please” episode which was broadcast this week and Cambridge TV also made a film of the event.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “I want to congratulate the finalists and everyone who took part, they should all be very proud of their achievements.”