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Cirencester Deer Park School

Cirencester Deer Park School

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Poetry Live! 2024

Year 10s in Bristol for a Poetry event

30 Year 10 pupils had the amazing opportunity on Monday 22 January 2024 to attend the GCSE Poetry Live! conference at the newly-opened Bristol Beacon.

The objective for the day was to help our pupils consider, study and revise the poems which will form a major part of their GCSE English Literature course. The day was chock-full of advice and wisdom from a number of different speakers, including Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and one of the Chief Examiners, Peter Buckroyd.  

Every poet that we heard from gave our pupils an insight into their own poetry and exposed them to the ideas behind their poems. Many contemporary poets whose works are studied at GCSE English Literature were in attendance -    Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Imtiaz Dharker, Daljit Nagra, Owen Sheers and John Agard. Pupils examined the poems afresh and each poet answered questions about their work and their thought-processes. The poets read from their other works, as well as from the poems we have studied in class, thus giving us a new awareness of their collected works and poetic style.  

The Welsh poet Owen Sheers gave a passionate reading of the start of his play ‘Pink Mist’, which drew inspiration from the stories of young men from Bristol going to war. There was a hushed silence in the auditorium as all were mesmerised by his haunting poetry.

Pupils appreciated the chance to revise the key points of each exam poem and they also had a chance to reflect on how poets conceive their ideas. Imtiaz Dharker helped the audience consider how we (as readers) can find poetry and language in the simplest of objects and can use these to have a better understanding of the poet’s intentions.

The final part of the day was led by poet John Agard, who was welcomed with passionate clapping and cheering. He finished with a key message for everyone: “Make words your friend. Make language your friend” in order to make the most out of your life - no matter what you do or who you are. 

'The chief examiner was very helpful and the poets were inspirational for my writing.' Tilly (Year 10)

Mr Lay, English Teacher: 'It was an enlightening event and it was excellent to see such a range of poets. Our pupils were engaged with the whole day, made copious notes and really embodied the Deer Park spirit.'


Mr Neal, English Teacher: 'I thoroughly enjoyed Poetry Live. It was interesting and insightful to hear so many well- known poets talking about their own writing process and the things that have inspired them. The examiner's tips were extremely valuable and it was lovely to see how engaged our Year 10 pupils were when listening to the poets and how entertaining they found some of the more performative readings.'