“The words – she heard them. They became her words.” Gillian Clarke

On Friday 24th January the whole of Year 11, accompanied by Ms Naseem and Mr Evans, went to The Emmanuel Centre in Westminster to watch ‘Poetry Live.’ As its name suggests, this event involves poets (some of whom are included in the iGCSE Anthology) reading and discussing a selection of their poetry to a live audience of students and teachers.

After finding our seats at the back of the very impressive auditorium, we first heard from Imtiaz Dharker who told us about the inspiration behind the composition of her Anthology poem, ‘Blessing.’ Owen Shears then read a moving piece about the patients and staff in the NHS before handing over to most students’ favourite, John Agard. Agard’s selection drew upon his Caribbean heritage and was delivered with considerable gusto – it was impossible not to be impressed by his passion and humour. Gillian Clarke and former poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy discussed the autobiographical influences behind their poems before we had a short break to digest lunch and all of the verse we had heard.

Tony Childs, a chief AQA examiner, gave valuable advice after lunch about answering unseen poetry questions and, I hope, might have allayed some of the fears that students had about this component of the examination. Daljit Nagra was next up and he delighted us with his rendition of ‘Singh Song’ which managed to be both very amusing and subtly moving. The current poet laureate, Simon Armitage, rounded the day off and his dry irony was particularly enjoyed by the teachers.

The day was undoubtedly a resounding success, (one which we hope to repeat next year) and a special mention should be made of Malaika for being brave enough to ask a question of Imtiaz Dharker in front of an audience of at least five hundred.