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Poetry by Heart success for Xaverian College student

Talented students have been taking part in the inspiring Poetry by Heart competition designed to encourage pupils in England to choose a poem, learn it by heart and perform it out loud.

Over the last six months, Year 12 students studying English Literature have been rehearsing and perfecting their performances of a variety of poems. Xaverian student, Sam Bishton, former pupil of Trinity Church of England High School, was selected as one of ten finalists in the Key Stage 5 classic competition after submitting a video of his recital in the national competition. The finalists will perform at Shakespeare’s Globe on 1st July, in front of an impressive array of judges. Sam beat over 3000 young people to be selected for the final, with his recitals of ‘Philosophy’ by Amy Levy and ‘Sci-fi’ by Tracy K Smith being commended for their clarity, enthusiasm and communication of meaning. 

Commenting on his success, Sam said: “Poetry by Heart is a combination of poetry and performance, two passions of mine, so I knew straight away that I wanted to participate. Both poems I chose are a little cynical, but still very bright and entertaining and the competition has been a fantastic way to express my love for language and literature!”

Tish Aroyewun, Teacher of English, said: “I’ve been involved with the Poetry by Heart competition for many years, and it has always amazed me to see a different side to students when they learn a poem and really make it their own. When I joined Xaverian earlier this academic year, I was excited to get to know more students and discover their hidden talents, as well as encouraging them to build their love of poetry – something which I have always had.”

“Sam blew us away with his performance from day one – he learnt the poems in the space of a week and so from that point on it was just about perfecting the performance. I was thrilled to get the email from Poetry by Heart – it’s an exceptional standard of competitors and I’m so proud that Sam is representing Xaverian in the National Final.”

The former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, who set up Poetry by Heart with co-founder Dr Julie Blake in 2013, said: “In ten years, Poetry By Heart has grown from strength to strength: since 2013 thousands of students have not only learned great poems for life but they have also shared them with friends and families in the inspiring and moving performances that are at the heart of every competition. I am constantly surprised and delighted by the quality of the students’ achievements.”

Daljit Nagra, Poetry by Heart Advisor and Judge, said: “I am always stunned by our young people and their ability to stand before an audience of strangers to deliver a poem with an intimacy and intellectual authority that gives the poem fresh meaning while bringing it utterly alive.”

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