Saturday, June 04, 2016

Voices of Poetry 2016

Last Sunday evening saw again the lovely annual occasion which is Voices of Poetry, expertly co-ordinated for the eighth year by Mr Swift. As we have often mentioned, it is an infallible formula - lovely short poems in different languages read on the final 'full' weekend of the year. And so often it seems blissfully sunny outside, contrasting with the dark hush of the Big Schoolroom, which is broken by a single spotlight. The photograph was taken 15 minutes before the event began, on the way to the BSR.

Nyla Jamieson's 'Dancing', written for the Senior Poetry, was first up, followed by another entry, Oisin Large's 'The Time has Come'. Second Prefect Bunmi Oyateru then read a poem by Amiri Baraka. The foreign language poems started with one in Russian (Elizaveta Kozhevnikova). Douglas Boyd Crotty followed with Irish and Jack Thurk with 'American' ('On the Death of a Next-Door Neighbor').

French was represented by Ciara Gumsheimer and Spanish by Juliane Hastedt. Charlotte Moffitt recited her Poetry Aloud entry, Yeats's 'The Song of Wandering Aengus' and four poems followed in other languages read by Pia Zulauf (German), Swedish (Louvisa Karlsson-Smythe), Latin (Callum Pery-Knox-Gore) and Italian (Gabriella Castagna Rubio).

A tradition has it that retiring teachers are invited to read, and Mrs Haslett read out a hugely entertaining section of Carol Ann Duffy's 'The Laughter of Stafford Girls' High' (listen to a version in a Joanna Lumley programme here). She was followed by the Chaplain, who arrived this year, and who amused all by reading in a 'language' never heard before at this event: Cockney.

Catalan (Gemma Rodriguez, from Andorra) and Portuguese (Rafael Mendes) followed, and then the newest member of the English Department, Mrs Donnelly, read 'The Horses' by Ted Hughes. She was followed by the outstanding winner of the Junior Poetry Prize, Tania Stokes, with her winning entry 'Metaphorest'.

The Warden, Dr Haslett, retires at the end of this term, and he read two poems: Michael Longley's superb 'Ceasefire' (read by the poet himself here) and Tennyson's 'Crossing the Bar'. A real contrast was Chingrui Yan's short poem in Chinese.

Finally, three pupils wrapped up the evening: Helena Gromotka, winner of this year's Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry with 'Maybe', Senior Prefect Harvey McCone with his favourite poem, 'He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' by W.B. Yeats, and Sol Guitart Rivero from Primary with her own sweet poem 'Love'. A fine note on which to end an evening full of love for the written and spoken word.

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