Poetry By Heart – April 2017

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Congratulations to our Head Boy, Luke Gyesi-Appiah, who reached the National Finals of the ‘Poetry by Heart’ competition, 2017. Luke enjoyed an all-expenses paid weekend at the British Library, competing against 40 other students from all over the country in this prestigious event.

Luke, accompanied by Ms Davis, had a fantastic weekend, meeting famous poets and actor, Freddie Fox, who recited his own poem and a favourite Shakespearean sonnet. Apart from competing, Luke visited the British Library’s treasure collection, and was treated to a formal ‘winners’ dinner’ on Saturday evening, staying at the London School of Economics student residences overnight.

Funded by the Department for Education, ‘Poetry by Heart’ is a national schools’ poetry recitation competition, for students in Years 10-13, now in its fifth year. Students have to recite from memory a pre-1914 and post 1914 poem, and are judged on use of voice, performance, understanding and accuracy. It may sound easy… but it is not!

Having won the school House competition, Luke’s recitations were uploaded to You Tube for the ‘Poetry by Heart’ judges as part of the County round. He chose to recite: ‘The destruction of Sennacherib’ by Lord Byron and ‘Harlem shadows’ by Claude McKay.

You can view Luke’s original entries here: https://youtu.be/1mDdmgkY5U8


Luke won the county round and represented Leicestershire in the regional finals. Competition was very tough as the standard of recitals was outstanding. Although Luke did not win the regional round, the judges entered him into the finals as ‘the wild card’! So, up against 8 other National competitors, Luke ‘did us proud’! Watched by Mr and Mrs Gyesi-Appiah, little sister, Ewurama and Ms Davis, Luke gave a fantastic performance in front of the judges; professional poets: Patience Agbabi, Jean Sprackland, Jacob Sam-La Rose, Glyn Maxwell and Daljit Nagra.

Luke may not have won the National Final, but to be in the last 9 in the country was a fantastic achievement for Luke, the English Department – who organised the competition – and for Ratcliffe College. The icing on the cake was when Luke and Ms Davis received a ‘goody bag’ of poetry books and the School has won a year’s subscription to the online Oxford English Dictionary!

Well done Luke, we are so proud of you!

Ms Davis