19-21 March 2015
Homerton College, Cambridge
The third Poetry By Heart National Finals weekend will see 42 county contest winning students recite three poems – Pre-1914, Post-1914 and First World War poem – for the chance to become Poetry By Heart National Champion! This will be a celebration, an opportunity for our county winners to meet the other winners from all over England, and the final phase of our search for the Poetry By Heart National Champion.
The Winners’ Event will begin with regional semi-finals. Each regional semi-final will be judged by a panel of outstanding contemporary poets, including Andrew Motion, Jean Sprackland, Patience Agbabi, Daljit Nagra and Jo Shapcott. The seven Regional Winners and one “Wild Card” will then battle it out to become National Champion. The MC of the Finals weekend will be poet Jacob Sam-La Rose.
Here’s what happened at the 2014 National Finals…
13-15 March 2014
National Portrait Gallery, London
Poetry By Heart Has a New Champion
Matilda Neill (17) from Tyne & Wear is the new Poetry By Heart Champion for 2014.
Reciting three poems in front of a highly appreciative audience at the National Portrait Gallery in London Matilda triumphed at the end of a search for a champion that began six months ago with hundreds of students taking part in school competitions up and down the country.
In presenting her with a specially designed trophy the Chair of the judging panel Sir Andrew Motion commented, “Matilda is the unanimous choice of the judges who have been greatly impressed by the sincerity and authenticity of her recitations. Matilda has truly taken these poems to her heart and shared them with us today in a way that is both beautiful and moving.”
Matilda, who hopes to study English Literature at University after taking a Gap Year said, “It has been an amazing experience to be part of such a fantastic celebration of poetry. The poems I chose to recite meant a lot to me and I loved exploring the sounds of the words and the relationship between sound and meaning in the poems.”
Matilda recited: “The Way Through the Woods” by Rudyard Kipling; “In Memoriam” by Michael Longley and “Explaining Magnetism” by Maura Dooley.
46 county competition winners gathered at St Martin-in-the-Fields on Thursday evening (March 13th) for a dinner and poetry reading by poets Jean Sprackland and Sir Andrew Motion before the semi-final stage of the competition began in the Ondaatje Wing Theatre of the National Portrait Gallery on Friday (March 14th). In addition to watching fellow competitors recite, students enjoyed a range of activities including tours of some of the portrait galleries, visits to Broadcasting House, an open top bus tour of London including a visit to Poets’ Corner and a dinner on Friday evening at Planet Hollywood.
Matilda and seven other finalists recited in front of a distinguished panel of judges from the world of poetry including Sir Andrew Motion, Jean Sprackland, Daljit Nagra, Patience Agbabi, Glyn Maxwell and Tim Dee. The M.C. for the Regional Semi-Finals which took place on Friday and Saturday morning was the poet Jacob Sam-La Rose whilst the National Final on Saturday afternoon was hosted by poet and presenter of “Poetry Please” (Radio 4), Roger McGough. “Poetry Please” recorded material from the final for a future edition of the programme.
Second place in the final went to Ben Westerby (15) from London whilst third place was awarded to Logan Jones (15) of Bedfordshire. Their fellow finalists were Eden Hildreth (Buckinghamshire), Ellie MacDonald (Dorset), Olufeyikewa Popoola (London), Mary Flanagan (Lancashire) and Rachael Maltby (Worcestershire).