- A welcome from Daljit Nagra, poet
- Taking part in Poetry By Heart
- Step-By-Step - for schools/colleges
- Guidance in case of Covid-19 disruption
- More about 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
Taking part in Poetry By Heart
There are three main types of national entry for young people available this year, all possible by video performances made at home or in school. Click here for the full-colour pdf competition guide.
The 2-poem National Championship
Young people learn two poems from the Poetry By Heart website – one published in or after 1914, and one from before 1914. It’s a solo competition for individuals performing in a simple, classic style – just the young person, their chosen poems and their natural speaking voice or signing style. National Championship judging focuses on voice, understanding, performance and accuracy.
Up to 3 entries by video upload per key stage.
The 1-poem Celebration
Young people learn any one poem from the Poetry By Heart website. They can enter solo, in pairs, small groups or whole classes. Original performance styles are strongly encouraged. Celebration judging focuses on a compelling original performance of the poem. The monthly challenges for each poem in this calendar illustrate some possibilities for this freestyle category where anything goes as long as the poem is out loud and by heart.
You could also consider:
• Choral performance with multiple voices assigned to different parts
• Performance that uses image and sound alongside the spoken voice
• Animation, dramatization, mime or dance alongside the spoken voice
• Performance in a setting related to the poem or with a musical instrument
Up to 3 entries by video upload per key stage.
The non-competitive option
Young people perform any other poem not on the Poetry By Heart website. This could be a poem they have written themselves, or a poem written in another language, or a much-loved poem from any other source including web collections available at CLPE’s Poetry page, Children’s Poetry Archive or Poetry Society.
Up to 9 entries by video upload, any key stages.
The 1-poem challenge
Any member of staff or trainee teacher learns any poem from the Poetry By Heart website and performs it in any style, solo, in pairs or any size group.
Up to 3 entries per school or PGCE cohort.
Finalists in the National Championship plus selected participants in all other categories will be invited to perform at Shakespeare’s Globe, London, summer term 2022. More details are in your free online competition kit at the Teaching Zone.
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Step-By-Step - for schools/colleges
to access your free competition kit, fortnightly updates and video entry uploader at the Poetry By Heart homepage…
via email, phone or video call, or join other educators in our fortnightly online Poetry Forum to explore ideas about making it work where you are…
whole school, a year group, a class or a club with our launch slides, video poem performances and whole class learn-along poems…
young people as they explore poems on the Poetry By Heart website, choose poems to learn and practise speaking them well…
all the poems aloud that your young people have learned – at a live or virtual, competitive or non-competitive, poetry speaking event…
the performances you want to enter in the national competition – Classic, Freestyle or Showcase, plus the All School Staff competition…
your selected performances and drop the files into our online video entry uploader by midnight, Thursday 31st March 2022. Find out how to upload here…
for the live announcement of who has been selected to perform at Shakespeare’s Globe in our online Poetry Forum at 4pm on Wednesday 27th April 2022…
the extraordinary poem performances of our National Championship Finalists, our freestylers and showcasers at Shakespeare’s Globe, or via our online Performance Gallery.
Tell us about your Poetry By Heart plans and we’ll send some ‘I took part in Poetry By Heart’ button badges (while they last)! We may also have poem posters and extra calendars if you’re quick.
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Guidance in case of Covid-19 disruption
Flexibility is key. In case you face any COVID-19 disruption during the school year, please consider:
– that you can enter Poetry By Heart by hosting an online school event via digital platforms such as Zoom, Teams or Skype. You can download some fun visual backgrounds from the Teaching Zone.
– if you want to have an on-site school event but Covid is making it difficult to organise, remember that your event can be as large or small as you want and you have until midnight on 31st March to submit your entry.
– you can ask students to record their performance videos from home, with the help of their families. They can send their videos to you and you can make the selection for the national competition.
The Poetry By Heart team is on hand to help you with anything you need. Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0117 905 5338. If you have other ideas for adapting Poetry By Heart for Covid conditions, then we’d also be very happy to speak to you!
We want to encourage young people, their families and their teachers to join in and have fun with poetry however conditions allow.
More about Poetry By Heart
Poetry by Heart is a national poetry speaking competition for schools and colleges in England. It’s also a website for teaching and learning about poetry – by heart and out loud, and with plenty of choice for young people to explore poems and find the ones they love. It’s a resource for everyone in schools, in England, and everywhere else.
In the national Poetry By Heart competition young people aged from 7-18, in key stages 2, 3, 4 and 5 choose poems they love, learn them by heart and perform them in a school or college performance event. There can be as few as three performers and as many as the whole school.
With our support and free materials, teachers pick entrants for the national competition, make a simple video of their performances and upload them for judging. Every national competition entrant receives positive feedback from the judges and a certificate celebrating their achievement. A selection of performers from every region of England will be invited to perform their poems in front of top UK poets at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre – and the new Poetry By Heart national champions will be crowned.
Poetry By Heart is simple to set up, it’s all free and schools and colleges have until 31st March 2022 to choose who will represent them in the national competition and upload their entries.
Poetry By Heart has always been a partnership between poetry and education. It was founded in 2012 by poet Andrew Motion, UK Poet Laureate 1999-2009, and educator Julie Blake, and initially developed by The Full English with The Poetry Archive. This collaboration now been expanded to include The Poetry Society, the English Association, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, the National Association for the Teaching of English, Homerton College, University of Cambridge, Shakespeare’s Globe and Oxford English Dictionary. Poetry By Heart is funded with the support of the Department for Education.