Wednesday, May 30, 2007

TY Evening

(Pictured - Professor Kevin Barry of NUI Galway, with Premier Award winners Rebecca Feeney-Barry, Celeste Guinness, Emily Plunket and Joseph Millar)

Last night in the BSR we concluded this year's Transition Year English course. Eleven pupils read from their work in front of their peers, parents, next year's TY, and other pupils and staff. Kevin Barry (Professor of English Literature at NUI Galway) addressed the audience and commented on this work, and at the end grades were awarded to the 41 pupils.

Over the coming days we hope to post here a small proportion of the 400+ essays written for this year's Work Portfolios. Last night,
  • Shane Lavin read his piece, 'The Oldest Person I know' about his 103 year-old French great-grandmother,
  • Mikeila Cameron read her personal essay, 'My First Home', about her house in Mombasa, Kenya,
  • Crispin Maenpaa read Johnny Cooper's story 'Spying', about a brutal South African policeman,
  • Sarah Wilson read her story 'The End', about a frantic gambling game,
  • Emma Klyne read Rosemary Wentges's 'Oldest Person', about another centenarian great-grandmother,
  • Gary Lawler read Paddy Owens's piece 'Parents',
  • Helene Tonner's powerful 'Oldest Person', about her German octogenarian grandfather, was read by Rosemary Wentges
  • Poppy Law read Celeste Weatherhead's impassioned protest about Saddam Hussein's execution, 'The End',
  • Emily Plunket read her own evocative description of a street late at night,
  • Ollie Smith read Joey Millar's ambitious essay about music, 'Soundtrack',
  • and finally David Beresford read his own entertaining essay, 'What Women Know'.
Then Professor Barry spoke eloquently about the nature and importance of writing. He said he had heard an impressive array of different kinds of writing, and that it was particularly notable that the TY course encouraged the process of revision and correction (in current academic terms, writing always has a 'genetic history'). He cited Jonathan Swift's ideas of the two different kinds of writers - the spider creating nothing new or fresh 'spinning out of its own entrails), the bee gathering its material from the world around it (from 'The Battle of the Books' : "So that, in short, the question comes all to this: whether is the nobler being of the two, that which, by a lazy contemplation of four inches round, by an overweening pride, feeding, and engendering on itself, turns all into excrement and venom, producing nothing at all but flybane and a cobweb; or that which, by a universal range, with long search, much study, true judgment, and distinction of things, brings home honey and wax").

Professor Barry moved on to two other models of writing - the idea of the patchwork quilt promulgated by Walter Benjamin, and finally Dave Hickey's concept of the artist/writer who plays 'air guitar'. He praised the writing he had heard, and finally announced the four winners of Premier Awards this year (pictured above), who achieved over 80% in their course.

Poem of the Week : ABC

This week's work is Robert Pinsky's alphabet poem, 'ABC', which you can read here. Pinsky was Poet Laureate of the USA from 1997 to 2000. Robert Lowell called him 'a poet who is intellectually interesting and technically first-rate'. Pupils are challenged to write other alphabet poems - we'll post any good ones here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Transition Year Evening

This evening at 8 pm in the BSR we have the culmination of our IV form's Transition Year work in English. As usual, several pupils will read out their or their friends' writings from their Work Portfolio, and at the end of the evening they will be given their final grades for the year. This evening the guest speaker is Kevin Barry, Professor of English Literature at NUI Galway. A full report tomorrow, and later this week we will post some examples of work from the Portfolios that the year have recently been assembling.

Junior Public Speaking

Well done to Andrew Martin of II form, who on Saturday evening won this year's Junior Public Speaking Competition.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Crucible

Tonight and tomorrow night all our V form go to the new Abbey Theatre production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. This is their 'single text' for next year's Leaving Certificate, so it will be particularly valuable to see a production. We will post a review here in due course.

In our sidebar to the right, there are two links to excellent resources for studying the play - here from West Springfield High School, and here, a Resarch Guide for Students. Some schools are using The Crucible as a comparative text, which is our own plan for next year.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Two more poems by Junior Certificate pupils, for the Junior Poetry Prize.

'Nighttime', by Sophie Millar

Where did all these questions come from?
Can’t you leave them with someone else?

And not face them until you’ve forgotten?
You do not trust yourself to think

The answers you don’t want to face

The volume of music isn’t sinking them
Nor the drum beats scaring them

Running isn’t tiring them
Nor crying melting them
Only thinking is pulling them deeper

It’s worse to watch you now I give you my hand
But you’re too far away
I do not see you now I await your return
Hurry back now
Because I do not trust myself to think

Her Dream, by Olivia Plunket

She cries,
Sitting still, no sound, no words, just sorrow.
Motionless, expressionless.

Just tears, dripping, trickling, spilling then flowing.

I offer myself,

But she pushes me away,

I go.
I dream about the day when she will accept me,
When her heart will call for me.

But that is exactly what it is,

Just a dream.

New Links

We have recently added some new recommended links in the sidebar :-
  • our Pageflakes site, with feeds from sites such as Arts and Letters Daily, Observer Books, Unspeak, The Page, The New Yorker, the London Review of Books, and our marks (and more to come).
  • In the Mags and Blogs section, The First Post - an online daily magazine with plenty of lively topical writing (click here for their book page)
  • In fiction, the entertaining and superbly designed official Roald Dahl site.
  • In Language, Ask Oxford, the richly rewarding site of the Oxford Dictionaries.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

More Junior Poetry

Since there was so much impressive poetry entered for the Junior Prize some weeks ago, we will be posting more here over the next few days. Here are 'Ballyconneely' and 'If I Knew Anything' by Fiona Boyd, winner of the prize.

'Ballyconeely' by Fiona Boyd

The harbour and pier no bigger than half a hockey pitch,
Where we wallowed many a day,
Where I tried to learn how to fish,
Where I learned to dive from a professional beginner.

And we would pass it on our evening walks
And the orange sky would light up the boats and send sparks along the water
As the burnt crimson sang lullabies to the sleepy harbour.
The seagulls would gather for a gossip
And the headless fish would wave goodbye to their sinking heads
As the five fishermen who actually worked there would load them up
Nodding to you
But not know you at all.

I have never known a place of such beauty with such a vulgar smell,
That is a holiday memory.
Smell, sounds and sight encased in those pure moments
That was my summer.
All in those moments.

'If I Knew Anything' by Fiona Boyd

I’d swim these icy waves,
My heart shivering with every stroke,
If I knew I would reach you.

I’d walk through this searing desert,
The heat a heavy weight I’m carrying,
If I knew you’d be on the other side.

I’d run the length of this rushing river,
The end never once in my sight,
If I knew that’d you’d be sailing along beside me.

I’d climb this daunting mountain,
Dragging my heels, my body my burden,
If I knew you’d be waiting for me at the summit.

But I am still,
No longer do I run or climb or walk or swim,
I don’t know anything anymore,
Your footsteps echo in my head
The sound of you leaving
The sound of the end.

Work Portfolios

Our Transition Year today hand in their Work Portfolios, prior to our annual TY English evening on Tuesday and the completion of their course. We hope to post some of this work over the next week.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Dreamwalker's Child

Chris Doherty from our Primary class writes : 'This year we read 14 books for Mrs Heffernan, and wrote book reports on them. One of the books I read was The Dreamwalker's Child by Steve Voake. I really enjoyed reading this book and here is a short report I wrote about it. I really enjoy reading books by this author and will continue to read them whenever they are released. I think other people would enjoy reading books by Steve Voake. He is a fantastic author.'

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Poem of the Week : Yeats

This week's poem is W.B. Yeats's 'He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven', an early love poem that was read out in Chapel by Amber Gardner three weeks ago when we launched our Poem of the Week scheme :

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Chapel Talk

Members of the English Department teaching staff are invited by the Chaplain to talk at Chapel on Wednesday mornings every now and then on some issue/idea of their choice. This morning Ronan Swift gave a fine talk based on tomorrow's General Election, with thoughts on some of its issues, and ended by singing a song 'with a very tenuous connection.'

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New Library Books

The latest books in the Library are listed here in full, and include, in junior fiction, Kevin Crossley-Holland's Arthur : King of the Middle March, which completes the trilogy begun in The Seeing Stone and continued in At the Crossing Places.

In senior fiction, there is Kate Grenville's The Secret River, reviewed here in the Guardian by Geraldine Bedell, as 'a sad book, beautifully written and, at times, almost unbearable with the weight of loss, competing distresses and the impossibility of making amends.'

In non-fiction, Michael Longley's new Collected Poems, mentioned here previously, and Josephine Hart's Catching Life by the Throat - how to read poetry and why, which includes a CD of readings by actors such as Roger Moore, Juliet Stephenson and Ralph Fiennes of poems by W.H. Auden, T.S. Eliot, Philip Larkin, Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, Rudyard Kipling, Sylvia Plath and W B Yeats.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

First Lines

The Guardian book blog has a feature on first lines of books, and is asking readers to submit their favourites. You can suggest your own here, and read the current list.
Among those quoted :
  • from Ann Quin's Berg : "A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father."
  • from L'Etranger, by Albert Camus : "Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don't know."
  • Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep : "It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills."
  • James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man : "Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo."
  • Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar : "It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."

Friday, May 18, 2007

Gala Concert 2007

We have our fifth Gala Concert tomorrow night in the Big Schoolroom (it's sold out). As with the Mozart Requiem concert last term, four teachers in our very musical English Department will again be joining in the choral pieces, including the 'Easter Hymn' by Mascagni, alongside the College choirs, and our star visiting artiste, Regina Nathan. You can see the programme online here (you may have a wait a moment while it loads).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Voices of Poetry 2007 Review

Alisa Bowen from V form here reviews last Sunday's Voices of Poetry event. As well as those mentioned by her, poems were read by Brid-Marie Buckley ('Surprised by Joy' by Wordsworth - pictured), Aoife Gernon, Anamaria Halip (in Romanian), Lingfan Gao (Chinese), Niall Saudi (Arabic), Sarah O'Mahony, Richard Wann (Italian), Kate Haslett, Jessica Dean, Crispin Maenpaa (Finnish), Sope Anthony-Ojolola, Olivia Plunket, Anna Mortensen (Spanish), Ben Armstrong (Dutch), Cordelia Mulholland, Patricia Jackson (Irish), Nadia Pickersgill (French), Igor Verkhovskiy (Russian), Ben Dunne, Gabriella von Bulow (German), Rowland Cooper and Deirdre Gannon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Reading for teenage boys

The issue of teenage reading has entered the British Labour Party deputy leadership campaign, as the Education Secretary across the water, Alan Johnson, announced today that from a list of 160 books 'every state secondary school in England will be able to choose 20 of the titles in order to set up a dedicated "boys' bookshelf" in the library.' The Guardian reports that 'the list, which was drawn up by librarians from the School Library Association, is dominated by high-octane adventure stories which it is expected will appeal to the 11-to-14 age group. It is during these years that boys who were enthusiastic readers at primary school tend to put down their books and forget to pick them up again.'

At SCC we don't seem to see such forgetfulness - boys borrow lots of books from our excellent Library and there's an enthusiastic reading culture in the school.

Click here for the full English list.

Poem of the Week : 'Moonshine'

This week's Poem is our first Irish one : Richard Murphy's 'Moonshine' (below). Richard Murphy's books include The Battle of Aughrim, The Price of Stone, High Island and an autobiography, The Kick. His Collected Poems are published by the fine Gallery Press.


To think
I must be alone;
To love
We must be together.

I think I love you
When I'm alone
More than I think of you
When we're together.

I cannot think
Without loving
Or love
Without thinking.

Alone I love
To think of us together:
Together I think
I'd love to be alone.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Voices of Poetry

Last night in the BSR we had our annual Voices of Poetry recital evening, with almost 30 poems read by pupils and staff. There were poems in English, Romanian, Chinese, Arabic, Italian, Finnish, Spanish, Dutch, Bini, Irish, French, Russian and German. The winners of our poetry prizes - Fiona Boyd (junior) and Ben Russell (senior) read from their work, as well as several of the other writers who produced much excellent work for those prizes. Alisa Bowen will be writing a review of the evening for us here shortly. Pictured - Patricia Jackson reads a poem in Irish.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Book Recommendation : Family Romance

John Lanchester's recently published memoir, Family Romance, is a powerful and moving narrative about his own family. In particular, he tells the story of his mother Julia/Julie, the arc of whose life led her from Mayo to Madras to Hong Kong to Norwich, and from postulant to nurse to nun to teacher to wife and mother. The defining moment of her life was her deceit over her age when marrying her husband Bill, and Lanchester shows how this lie seeped into and coloured all her relationships (most crucially, "if my mother had not lied, I would not have been born"). He also writes with great empathy and affection about his father.

The book has many other virtues, including its portrayal of an extended Irish family, its description of colonial lives in a post-colonial world, and its meditations on childhood and parenthood. The final subject of the book is the author himself, and especially the skeins of his own emotional DNA. Late in the book he writes that at 18 "I was about as cut off as possible from my own feelings as you can be and still be sane." This book is the constantly absorbing story of a writer who has since travelled a long way from that point and uses his skills as the writer of the novels The Debt to Pleasure, Mr Phillips and Fragrant Harbour to drive along the narrative.

You can read the opening here.

There are reviews in the Independent here, and by Blake Morrison in the Guardian here.


Our Book Recommendations

One of the purposes of this blog is to share the reading enthusiasms of pupils and staff, with our Book Recommendations. We've now added a 'widget' to the sidebar on the right which randomly rotates books already recommended, thanks to the LibraryThing site - worth checking out and joining if you're a bookworm like many of us.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sassoon's medal

One of the novels we sometimes study for the comparative module of the Leaving Certificate course is Pat Barker's moving study of men damaged by the First World War, Regeneration. It starts with Siegfried Sassoon's famous 'Soldier's Declaration' against 'the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.'

In the second chapter, Barker imagines Sassoon talking to her protagonist, the army psychiatrist Rivers, and they talk about the war hero's act of defiance when he threw his Military Cross into the Mersey : - "There was a ship sailing past, quite a long way out, in the estuary, and I looked at this little scrap of ribbon floating and I looked at the ship, and I thought that me trying to stop the war was a bit like trying to stop the ship would have been ... but it still had to be done. You can't just acquiesce." Sassoon had described this in his autobiography Memoirs of an Infantry Officer.

Now comes news that the medal has been found in an attic in the family home on the Isle of Mull, and will be auctioned later this month, expecting to fetch at least £25,000. Full story here.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Poetry Aloud finals

Good luck to Rosy Temple, Jessica Dean and Anna Traill, who today take part in the semi-finals of the Poetry Aloud recital competition in the National Library in Dublin.

From the website :
"Following the first round of the POETRY ALOUD Poetry Speaking Competition, which was held regionally in March, the semi-final and final of the competition will take place in the National Library in Dublin on 11 May 2007. 112 students from 19 counties across Ireland and Northern Ireland have been chosen to represent their schools in the semi-finals. The first semi-final will take place at 9.30am and the second at 1.30pm. 30 students will compete in the final of this year’s competition, which will take place at 6pm. The judges for the final are Professor Brendan Kennelly poet and teacher; Thomas McCarthy, poet, critic and Board member of Poetry Ireland, and Dr Pat Donlon, former Director of the National Library of Ireland and now Director of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in County Monaghan."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

2007 Drama Prizes

Congratulations to the winners of this year's drama prizes. The Senior Prize goes to Ben Russell, for his outstanding performances as Malvolio in Twelfth Night and as Stepan Stepanich Tschubukov in Chekhov's A Marriage Proposal.
The Junior Prize goes to Celeste Guinness, for her excellent acting in the role of Angelique in The Hypochondriac in February. And the Fry Prize for Stagecraft goes to Katie Terres, for her fine design work on the set of Twelfth Night.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Poem of the Week : 'One Art'

The second Poem of the Week is Elizabeth Bishop's villanelle 'One Art' - for the full text, click here. For a previous post on Bishop and the book Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box, go here.

In the Washington Post, Robert Hass presents 'One Art' with Theodore Roethke's 'The Waking' and comments on the form of the villanelle :-

"A very old Italian folk song form brought into medieval French poetry and then brought into English by poets at the end of the 19th century. It is based on an intricate rhyme scheme and a schematic repetition of key lines. The effect is mesmerizing; it makes of the music of the poem a kind of haunted waltz."

In Ploughshares, Lloyd Schwartz has an article about Bishop's poetry (reviewing her book Geography III) under the title 'One Art', which looks in some detail at the poem 'In the Waiting Room', which is part of the Leaving Certificate selection, and then at our Poem of the Week. He comments on the ambiguity of the opening remark, "the art of losing can mean two things, both learning not to mind, and learning to lose more" and goes on to point out that the use of the villanelle form is -

"one of Elizabeth Bishop's rare excursions into a complex, pre-existent verse pattern (only her two sestinas and the double sonnet of 'The Prodigal' come to mind). Perhaps the framework of a formal pattern was a necessary structure for the use of so many personal details."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pass on a Poem

The site Pass on a Poem has a micro-site on Elizabeth Bishop, author of tomorrow's Poem of the Week (our second). Pass on a Poem also has an online anthology, news of events (mostly in London), a resources page which includes advice about reading out loud and learning poems by heart, and a subscription form to receive their own Poem of the Week by email.

Their home page quotes Emily Dickinson (pictured):

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry--
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll--
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Last Junior Prize Poems

'Her Dream', by Olivia Plunket

She cries,
Sitting still, no sound, no words, just sorrow.
Motionless, expressionless.
Just tears, dripping, trickling, spilling then flowing.
I offer myself,
But she pushes me away,
I go.
I dream about the day when she will accept me,
When her heart will call for me.
But that is exactly what it is,
Just a dream.

'Death', by Olivia Plunket

Such a strange thing,
Having someone you love taken away from you,
It cannot be described because the people who experience it do not live to tell us.
It is unknown, untold, untouched.
It just happens, it's sudden and silent.
It leaves a miserable trail behind it.
Its next victim is unknown,
But all that they will remember is their last breath of freedom.

The Crowded Room, by Rebecca Scott

I walk into a crowded room and all their backs are turned.
I try to speak but it’s only a whisper,
I search for you but I feel lost when I can’t see you.
I search and search until I see your dazzling eyes scanning the crowd for me.

I feel your warm smile and I don’t feel as lost.
My heart beats faster and faster and my head starts to feel heavy,
My chest gets tighter as I feel the air getting thin.
Still no one notices.

The ceiling is spinning and you're not there to stop me from falling.
My vision turns blurry and I can’t make them out,
Suddenly everything turns black,
And I collapse into a heap and not a soul to help me to my feet.

Friday, May 04, 2007

I Form Poetry

There were also plenty of First Form entrants for the Junior Poetry Prize - click here for poems by Angus Johnson, Tyrone Langham, Aoife Gernon, Oyindamola Onabanjo, Michael Kemp, Tom Crampton, Jack Cherry, Lorcan Maule, Shannon Keogan, Eochy O'Conor, Rabindranath Sheeran and Bronwyn Mallon.

This is Angus Johnson's ''Beach Scene" :

As I walk onto the beach
My feet get burned
By the heat of the sand.

I sit down and the noise
Of distant children
Whispers through my ears.

The whisper too of sandcastles
As the whooshing sea
Begins to flatten them.

Photos, Night-time

Sophie Millar's two entries for the Junior Poetry Prize :-

'Photos', by Sophie Millar

she closed her eyes,
blindfolded and protected

she didn't want to see who had left

maybe an honest smile had disappeared
or the carefree hair

was it the clear skin with natural flush
or the favourite teddy bear

instead she closed her eyes,
blindfolded and protected

she laughed with the speech of truth
she laughed at the speech of fake

she treasured the sound of a smile in a voice

and she closed her eyes,
blindfolded and protected

she escaped into the sounds
and ran with the flow of words

she dodged the bites and stings of haste
and sought comfort in the running race

that’s why she closed her eyes,
blindfolded and protected

'Night-time', by Sophie Millar

Where did all these questions come from?
Can’t you leave them with someone else?
And not face them until you’ve forgotten?
You do not trust yourself to think
The answers you don’t want to face

The volume of music isn’t sinking them
Nor the drum beats scaring them
Running isn’t tiring them
Nor crying melting them
Only thinking is pulling them deeper

It’s worse to watch you now
I give you my hand
But you’re too far away
I do not see you now
I await your return
Hurry back now
Because I do not trust myself to think

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Voices, Two Views

Two more poems which were entered for the Senior Poetry Prize :-

'Voices', by Cordelia Mulholland

A barely audible whisper
The murmur of quiet words
Unspoken statements
That seem to go unheard
Unpredicted choices
An underlying tone
So many different voices
The silence on the phone
Great speeches unforgotten
Anonymous whispers from above
The warm words of wisdom
The hollow words of love

'Two Views of One Thing', by Annabel Sharma

I see, you see, we see.
But what you see, I
Do not see.

How is that when we
Look at the same

It sits there and
Tempts our thoughts
As if all was glory.

It is our dilemma,
That we will have
To overcome.
Two views of
One thing.

You've Gone, Happy Place & Journey

Three more entries for the recent Junior Poetry Prize : all the junior poetry we are posting at the moment is written by III form pupils about to sit their Junior Certificate exams.

'You’ve Gone', by Anna Traill

Sitting by the window,
Feeling the loneliness seep deeper
Looking out at the drive,
Dusty photo, beautiful person.

A cold cup of tea,
Some biscuits uneaten.
They ask why I wait,
There’s no explanation.

The feeling is strong,
That’s all I can say,
Strong enough for me,
To keep waiting all day.

Waiting for something,
That’ll never come home.
The creak of the gate,
Our child motherless, alone.

Your adventurous stories,
You red flaming hair,
Your stupid annoying habits
But did I ever care?

You’ll come back I just know it,
I can tell from your heart
But the answer I don’t know,
Is why you ever wanted to part?

'Happy Place', by Anna Traill

Chilly wind blowing down my neck
Sound of sea gulls.
No waves, but ripples
Ripples in the forgotten sea.
Loose sand gliding over the golden sheet,
Colours in the sky,
Every shade of a prism,
Tranquillity taking over,
Peace and quiet, away from everything.
Just to think.
Nobody here,
Just me and myself,
Myself and I.
It’s more than enough, don’t need anyone else,
Sitting in my oasis
Not a care in the world.
Forgotten bad thoughts
Brought new ones to mind
Someone calling my name,
This place, I leave behind.

'Journey', by Jessica Dean

If life itself let loose its wings
And drifted on the drafts of death,
not tied down by mortal things,
dependent upon no breath.
Though all above does not see down
and down may not see up,
we cannot see ahead our time
for all our eyes stay shut.
And at the end we go to a place
where we are purely souls,
we see that after all this time
finally, we are whole.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Poem of the Week : 'The Catch'

Today in Chapel we launched our new 'Poem of the Week' scheme with some readings by prefects. Every Wednesday the chosen Poem of the Week will be posted on noticeboards around the school, and read to English classes by teachers. The scheme is partly prompted by the 21 year-old Poems on the Underground project in London - the idea that a poem can grab a moment from a passer-by, and amuse / interest / excite us. We hope that before long we will also post poems by pupils. Each Wednesday details about the poems and poets will be gathered here.

The first choice is appropriate for the time of year - Simon Armitage's 'The Catch', about cricket. More can be seen on the poet at his website here. There's also an interesting article on the poem (with the full text) in the Psychiatric Bulletin here, with Jeremy Holmes writing :-

"It is hard to describe why I find this seemingly simple poem so moving. It is essentially an action replay of a tiny yet significant moment in a cricket match. Like an action replay it plays with time, slowing it down to a freeze-frame where the powerful feelings aroused by a batsman's dismissal can be examined and absorbed. The event described takes place in a fraction of a second, yet the tone of the poem is languorous and sleepy — a typical afternoon in early summer, evoking nostalgic memories of childhood, boring or forgettable perhaps, but punctuated by a single moment of beauty and brilliance where ball meets hand."

More Junior poems

Here are four more poems from entrants for the recent Junior Poetry Prize.

'From The Distance', by Amelia Shirley

You can tell from the distance that she's not quite right,
That her heart beats for someone else.
You can see by her eyes, the pain she endures,
And how her smiles don't seem to belong.

She stands on her own staring at life.
Then someone says "Are you all right?"
"Yes, yes," she lies, "Yes, I’m fine."
And she carries on staring at hope.

She isn't quite sure what's happened to her,
You can tell by the way she moves.
When you advance to go near her, she pulls away,
The smiles try to keep out the fear.

The dark haunts her days,
And the days haunt her nights,
She wonders if jumping is it?
You can tell from the distance she's not quite right,
And that her soul is numb.
You can tell from the distance she's not quite right,
That the air in her lungs is not hers.
You can tell from the distance....
That she wants out.

'Lives that were not theirs', by Rosanna Young

Hidden angels; masks covering the beautiful souls
Beautiful masks yet troubled and somehow faded
Walking steps known to walk
Smiling smiles not their own
Their lives are shadows and dusk
Beautiful angels; clipped wings. Stuck. Trapped
Lives that were not theirs to take were taken
No tears stain their golden cheeks.
Like ghosts they walk through their lives
Only stopping to sing their heart wrenching songs
Broken sobs, quivering, shaking at the heart
Hidden angels; masks covering once beautiful souls.

'Sailor Boy', by Kate Haslett

His eyes, pools of mystery when the tide rushes in.
Murky depths unwilling to reveal what's within
Throwing caution to the wind.
Surface scarred and weathered by time and winds of change.
Soul adrift.
Tested by the currents of destiny.
Swallowed in the sea.

'Shadows', by Kate Haslett

For the longest time
I remember nothing but my shadow.
My friend. My shadow.
We sat, we talked, we played,
But we were alone together,
Because wherever I went,
So did my shadow.
But now I've met you,
Oh, the world begins again,
And I will be your shadow.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

'Life' and 'Petals'

Two poems from the entries for the Senior Poetry Prize :-

'Life', by Lauren O'Connell

a sparrow’s flight
through a room surrounded by darkness
in one window and out the other.

For a brief instant
a glimpse of light
warmth on the feathers

How could it yearn
for light, for warmth
for life
knowing only the darkness?
how can it not?

'Petals', by Rowland Cooper

The sun shines,
Clouds drift lazily
Across the azure sky,
And new flowers are opening,

Turning their faces
Towards freedom.
The last to bloom
Is our shrub of roses.

Its scarlet petals
Take no orders
From their fellow flowers.
They live by their own rules.

Spring's finale of
Pinks and whites
Is spattered with blood-
Coloured beauty.

The gorse is snapping on the hill,
Behind the house, while
The lakeside is reverberating
With the sound of exploding balsam.

Where is the queen of the garden now?
All that remains is a stalk of thorns ...
The only beauty left behind
Is swirling petals in our memories.