On Friday 23rd February, Year 11 ventured across London to the Apollo Theatre, Victoria to enjoy GCSE Poetry Live. The setting for the day, which is the same theatre that stages ‘Wicked’, was certainly an apt description for a day of great poetry performances.
Once we had taken our seats in the stalls and had our notebooks ready, the day began with a session from a GCSE examiner on how to deal with poetry in an exam. Exam-technique mastered, we were then treated to readings from a range of poets starting with the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy sharing the stage with Gillian Clark. We were then entertained by Daljit Nagha’s powerful writing as well as the eminent poet, playwright and novelist Simon Armitage. The audience was given the opportunity to ask all the poets some questions throughout the morning, which really brought the sessions to life. After the very important lunch break, we then heard from poet and documentary maker Owen Sheers and excerpts from the emotive work of poet and documentary maker Imtiaz Dharker. The day was then rounded off by a characteristically exuberant performance from John Agard.
To experience poetry being spoken by the writers rather than being simply as words on a page was incredibly enriching for all involved. The importance of the day though was perhaps best summarised by the closing words of John Agard: “… this room may be filled with future neuroscientists and athletes, but no matter what you do you cannot avoid the power of the 26 letters of the alphabet. Words and communication matters.”