Last Friday, two Fourth Form English classes attended Poetry Live! at the Dominion Theatre in London. The students heard from poets such as Carol Ann Duffy and Imtiaz Dharker, both of whom have written poems that feature in the students’ poetry syllabus. Matilda Semmens wrote the following report on their visit:
‘Poetry can be about anything you want it to be’
On Friday 18th March, we went to the Dominion Theatre in London to watch Poetry Live!. Although Mrs Gosden and Dr Bromley’s expectations were high, the rest of us were feeling a little less certain.
The programme was packed, and although we were disappointed not to hear John Agard live (he was unwell – poets are human after all!), we were exposed to new works and poets including Simon Armitage, Owen Sheers and Daljit Nagra.
To start, we listened to an examiner who gave very helpful tips on how to answer and revise the unseen poetry part of the exam. What was particularly useful were the examples and practice questions. However, by far the best part of the day was hearing from the poets themselves.
First up was former laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, knowing that one of her poems, War Photographer, is part of our syllabus – we all tuned in carefully. Not only was she funny, but also honest and engaging. Hearing her read the poem live was fascinating and enlightening: as one student commented ‘it was enjoyable to listen to the poets explain their inspiration and meaning behind their work’. Her perspective is an invaluable addition to our understanding.
All the other poets were great. One student summed up Simon Armitage as having a ‘wicked sense of humour’. Imtiaz Dharker was another poet whose poem is on the syllabus and therefore so important to hear her point of view on Blessing.
By far, Daljit Nagra was the most appreciated by the student audience who found his poems refreshing to listen to. We were stunned by his ability to take serious topics, such as power and toxic masculinity, and confront them in a way that is engaging, humorous and relatable. We were so lucky about how open the poets were to questions. So much was learnt through asking our own personal questions and we were particularly amazed by how many times a poet would re-write their poems
To conclude, this trip was an amazing opportunity to listen to the poets tell their poems in the way they want them to be heard. The statement ‘Poetry can be about anything you want it to be’ was brought to life for us and we learned so much beyond what’s needed in the exam.