On Friday 26 January 2018, 60 Year 11 pupils had the chance to attend the Poetry Live! conference at the Bath Forum in order to reflect on, study and revise the poems that comprise part of their GCSE English Literature study. This event was filled with wise words from a number of different speakers - from current Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy to the Head Examiner Tony Childs.
Each speaker gave the audience an interesting vision into their own poetry and the ‘voice’ they have created within their collected work. Many of the poets that are studied for GCSE English Literature were in attendance - pupils contemplated these poems afresh and each poet answered questions about specific elements of their work and thought-processes. All of the poets - Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker, Daljit Nagra, Owen Sheers, Simon Armitage and John Agard - were reading from new works as well as from the poems that we have studied in class, thus giving us a new appreciation for their collected works.
Pupils appreciated the chance to revise the key points of each poem and also had a chance to reflect on how poets conceive their ideas. Gillian Clarke helped the audience consider how we (as readers) can advance and adapt the ideas of the poet further.
One key message was from Simon Armitage - that poets specifically choose where to place the words on the page - that they 'decided where the language goes, and what space to put around it.' He likened poetry to painting - that the structure and space used can have any number of meanings.
The final part of the day was led by John Agard. Welcomed with enthusiastic applause, he finished with a key message for everyone: no matter what job you do in life, be it a doctor, scientist or a salesperson, you cannot escape language. Words will always be with you and so you should 'make language your friend' in order to progress. He finished with a rousing, 1,500 person-strong chant of ‘I will leap into the unknown, calling my life my own!’
‘Really enjoyed today, especially John Agard and Imtiaz Dharker.’ Billy
‘I enjoyed leaning about what inspired the poets.’ Eve
‘John Agard was amazing and it was beneficial to go and hear the explanations behind the poems.’ Emma
‘It was interesting to hear new interpretations of the poems.’ Lily