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Take Part In Poetry by Heart

A welcome from Daljit Nagra, poet

For the past decade, the highlight of my poetry calendar has been Poetry By Heart. I am always stunned by our children and their ability to stand before an audience of strangers to deliver a poem with an intimacy and intellectual authority that gives the poem fresh meaning while bringing it utterly alive. I’ve also enjoyed watching Poetry By Heart grow, which now includes Key Stage 2 and 3 children along with the older children. This has allowed us to have a full range of readings, from our fledglings to our young adults all celebrating poetry.

We have more categories now than ever before, and this has broadened the way children can appreciate a poem, from the straightforward speaking of the poem, to a group performance, to musical accompaniment; and to other forms of delivery which we may have not imagined but our children have dreamed up.

So much schooltime is spent analysing poetry, dismantling as though it were a car and its parts needed to be revealed. This process can dominate the school curriculum so Poetry By Heart can be a fresh take, a reminder of why poetry exists; that it exists to please, it exists to be read and above it exists, and can only survive at its best, if it is read aloud, and personalised so it feels as though it could only have come through that person who is presently speaking the poem; in a sense, for the duration of the reading, they are the poem and the world of the poem.

I love how Poetry By Heart celebrates classic poems alongside contemporary poems written by living poets. The poems speak of our island’s history, they speak of humans and they speak of our planet and the universe we inhabit. The poems achieve this through the words with all their accompanying features, and Poetry By Heart is an annual celebration of all subjects from all times as they speak from the mouth of a poem on the stage of Shakespeare’s Globe!


Professor Daljit Nagra FRSL PGCE MA
Poet and Poet-Advisor to Poetry By Heart

Chair of the Royal Society of Literature
Council Society of Authors
Programme Lead for Creative Writing, Brunel University London
Look We Have Coming to Dover! (Faber & Faber 90th Anniversary Edition: ‘Ten of Faber’s Most Iconic Collections’)
Presenter of Poetry Extra, BBC Radio 4 Extra on Sundays noon & 5pm