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Poetry by Heart

"Preparing for Poetry by Heart was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life, despite this it was also one of the most exciting moments. The whole process wasn’t a short stroll in the park, it was hard learning the poem but I kept on reciting it so much that it would play in my head over and over again like a broken record, walking to school, during tests even as I slept! I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and it was a thrill to be getting on stage. I won’t deny it, I was very nervous speaking in front of so many people and when my voice cracked two stanzas from the end I thought I was done for. Nothing could prepare me for the shock that was my name being called; I had set it in my head that I was not going to be the winner. I have come away still in disbelief and counting this experience as one of the best in my life. The confidence boost it gave me and the opportunity to express myself is truly memorable. I therefore encourage everybody to give it a try, even if you hate the sound of your voice or have a hard time learning poems, it is possible and a fantastic experience one which anybody can enjoy.


Thank you for the experience of Poetry by Heart. I really loved it".

Mia, Year 9


In December 2017, students and staff of SHSG took part in our annual 'Poetry By Heart' competition. New this year was the addition of a competition commemorating WW1 poetry. We entered two contestants into the National Heat of the competition: Isabella P, who was nominated 'Star Reciter' in the KS3 section and Victoria D who was 'highly commended' in the KS4/5 competition.  As a result, both students have been invited to join Poetry by Heart, along with Poet Daljit Nagra and the cast of BBC 'Poetry Please', to visit the places that are linked to Poetry by Heart's WW1 poetry anthology. This is going to be a very special trip! 

Below, Victoria reflects on her experience of reciting 'Mametz Wood'. Mrs Wimsett

For those of you who don’t know, Mametz Wood, in northern France, was the site of a battle during the First World War, in July 1916. Throughout this poem, poet Owen Sheers, portrays a strong connection between the environment and the battle, which really stood out to me when I was choosing the poem. The imagery and choice of vocabulary that Sheers uses strongly influenced my choice of poem because as I read Mametz Wood, I could feel the experiences and emotions of the soldiers that Sheers was describing.

In preparing this poem, I took the time to learn the imagery and the meaning of the poem instead of just learning the words. I felt as though this was important to really capture the meaning of the poem, which is Sheers reflection on how the events of that week in 1916 have been buried and forgotten and the poem is therefore about offering some sort of justice or redemption for the dead. I also did a lot of research into the context of the poem and the battle at Mametz Wood so that I could gain a knowledge of what happened and what these soldiers, who are still being unearthed, experienced.

When it came to the WW1 Showcase Competition, I was of course a little nervous, however, I knew that I had put the work in and I was at the stage where I could go and compete and enjoy my poem. I think this is very important because if, on the day, you have that little bit of faith in yourself, then you can truly just feel the poem and experience it as you recite it. Overall, I really enjoyed taking part and I was thrilled to be “highly recommended” by Poetry By Heart and I would encourage any students who are interested in poetry, or would like more experience in learning, reciting and performing poetry, to participate next year.

 Vicky D