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Poetry inspires Year 11

Ninety-two year 11 Testbourne students attended a poetry conference at Reading Town Hall on Thursday 24th of January, organised by the English Department. It was an extremely popular trip, with over half the year group attending!

The event included live readings from poets, which the students are currently studying as part of the AQA Literature Poetry Anthology (conflict), forming part of their Literature Paper 2 GCSE. Poets such as Imtiaz Dharker, Carol Ann Duffy, John Agard, Gillian Clarke, Owen Sheers, Daljit Nagra and Simon Armitage read their poems to the audience as well as discussed their ideas and reasoning behind the content of their poems. A particular favourite was John Agard who wrote ‘Checking Out my History’ and ‘Half-Caste’, poems that are well known amongst students in year 11. He received an enthusiastic response from the audience, especially our students who loudly applauded his performance of his most famous poem, ‘Checking out my History’, which was read almost as a song but with a really important message about equality and the conflict felt by the marginalised in society.

Another highlight of the day was hearing the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy read through her poems and explain the background to the poem ‘War Photographer’ and  her views toward society and the agonies of war, along with the lack of interest of mankind toward it.  

Not only did students get the opportunity to hear the poets, but they were also able to ask them questions. Notably, Ethan Bradbury and Tom Hejdeman asked insightful questions directly to the poets regarding their influences and purpose for writing the poems, which they responded thoughtfully to. Students were also provided with the opportunity to hear from an AQA examiner who gave some useful tips on how to improve their response by making more than one comment on an idea.

The afternoon closed with Simon Armitage who wrote ‘Remains’. He discussed the context of his poem and the deliberate structural devices he uses in his writing in order to bring about a certain effect on the reader.

Feedback from the day was that students got a lot out of the experience and enjoyed the trip. A big thank you goes out to the group from the teachers, as the behaviour was exceptional throughout the entire day.