On Thursday we were delighted to welcome Mr Andrew Speedy, Head of English at Fettes College, as the judge of our annual Poetry Recital Competition. Although we certainly couldn’t offer him the glorious weather of last year, we did array before him a collection of poems both warm and bright.
All of the children in the prep school worked extremely hard to choose and prepare a poem for recital over the Easter break, and the ‘heats’ of the competition, held on Tuesday morning, were hotly contested. The range of poems selected, and the variety of expression and mood our pupils can convey in their speech, was very impressive at all stages of the competition, and made judging a particularly unenviable task, for form tutors AND Mr Speedy!
Form 3 were taking part in the competition for the first time, and so special congratulations have to go to Cecilia for opening the whole proceedings with her accomplished performance. Georgia impressed me very much with her choice of a Scots poem, whilst Rudi and Louisa both had the audience grinning with their beautifully delivered, comic compositions.
There was evidence that Form 4 built on the experience they’d gained last year and in the Lecture Competition; Lucy B seemed very much at home on the stage, and her choice of poem was fantastic. Lucy R picked a poem about the Olympics – a topic about which we’re all fervently excited right now – and delivered it with charm, while Cosmo fully embodied the spirit of “Yo-Yo Man”! Samuel showed off perfect comic timing with his cheeky school-based verse: I think we’ll see more from this group of competitors in the future.
The buzz from the audience and Mr Speedy about Form 5 was noticeable: what an impressive bunch they are. Torran made excellent use of pace in his recitation, and his understanding of the poetic techniques his poet employed was remarked upon. Georgina’s poem demanded flawless delivery and timing, which is precisely what she gave it, whilst Georgie’s was an immense feat of memory, and a lovely “sequel” to her friend Ellen’s performance last year! Zara continues to wow whenever she takes to the stage, cleverly playing both parts of a familiar school dialogue.
Having sat in on the Form 6 heats, I knew that “our lot” would be giving the Form 5 a run for their money, however; Kenny’s take on the Charles Causley classic, “Timothy Winters”, was sensitive and showcased his typical mastery of tone. Oscar really conveyed the sheer enjoyment he had of his witty pet poem, whilst Izzy truly convinced us she was the greatest sulker ever with her confident performance (although I don’t believe it for a minute, of course). Susannah boldly took on Roald Dahl’s fiendish use of rhythm to give us another giggle.
Form 7 continued the comic vein, with Mia delivering a poem about a naughty dog called Oscar (!!) with excellent pace and clarity. Zoe made us laugh with her fabulously articulated description of some outrageous pony trials, too. I was amazed to hear Katie take on the entirety of TS Eliot’s “Skimbleshanks” – wow! Again, the metre is either with you or against you in that poem; Katie used it to marvelous advantage, and we hung on her every word. Jess offered a more thoughtful and contemporary piece about the realities of teenage life – the variety of poems offered and the fact that they meant something to each child was touching.
Form 8 also helped to add to the variety in tone; Emma delivered a respectful, powerful “Dulce et Decorum Est”, while Olivia got the dreamy thoughtfulness of “Daffodils” spot on. Jack had managed to select “Miss Simpson’s Favourite Ever Poem”, or “Invictus” as it’s more commonly known, and I’m really pleased with the way he prepared his recital and took the message of the piece to heart when overcoming nerves and adversity. Emily used tone of voice marvelously to turn John G. Saxe’s poem about an abusive husband into a scornful indictment rather than an air-headed cause for concern – very, very good!
Mr Speedy provided excellent feedback to all the competitors, as well as advice that will help them develop their skills further. He was very perceptive about the character of many of our reciters, and kept us guessing right until the close of the competition as to who would be victorious! In all, it was an entertaining, enjoyable and nail-biting afternoon.
Congratulations to all those who took part, be it in the heats or the finals. Congratulations to the top-placed performers: you really were outstanding.
Thanks to Mr Speedy for being a great judge, to the supportive audience, and to all involved in preparing the pupils for the competition; parents, form tutors and particularly Miss McRae, who always makes the stage a ‘home’ for the St. Mary’s community.
1st: Lucy B - The Painting Lesson
2nd: Cosmo F - The Yo-Yo Man
3rd: Lucy R - Advice for Staging your Own Olympic Games
Highly Commended: Rudi B - Pet Port a Potty
1st: Georgie N - Three Little Pigs
2nd: Oscar S - My Puppy Pinched Me in the Eye
3rd: Torran E - The Bogeyman
Highly Commended: Susannah G-F
1st: Zoe Niven - The Hunter Trials
2nd: Emily Letts - The Best of Husbands
3rd: Olivia Rooney - I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
Highly Commended: Emma S