Poetry Comes Alive at Sixth Form Conference
After hours of studying the ‘Poems of the Decade’ anthology in class for our A-level, we were all excited to meet the poets behind the texts and have them brought to life for us. Opening the day was William Sieghart who had selected all the poems for the anthology. He highlighted the importance of studying an anthology full of modern (post 2000) poetry because of its relevance and many applications to our everyday lives. Then Sinéad Morrissey, author of ‘Genetics’, inspired us with her emphasis and focus on analysing shape and form, a technique often dismissed by students. She showed us the importance of ‘white space’ (areas of space deliberately left blank around the text) which can be used visually to represent vulnerability, fragmented thoughts or fast progression and momentum. Ian Duhig shed light on his mystical poem ‘The Lammas Hireling’ with an engaging Q&A session while Sarah Crown critically interrogated and analysed Helen Dunmore’s ‘To My Nine-Year-Old-Self’, making us all extremely jealous of her ability to craft a comparative essay seemingly out of thin air.
Humbling us with her passion for equality and strong feminist views, Tishani Doshi read and discussed her powerful poem, ‘The Deliverer’, about adopting baby girls abandoned on the streets of India. Meanwhile, Katy Lewis brought us back down to earth with her informative and useful insight into the exam board’s viewpoint, giving us all a much-needed confidence boost for when we face the dreaded A-level exam paper. Daljit Nagra lightened the mood as he led another Q&A session into his poem ‘Look We Have Coming to Dover!’, deepening our understanding and perception of this first-generation immigrant-centred text. After a fascinating reading by Leontia Flynn of her poem, ‘The Furthest Distances I’ve Travelled’, world slam champion poet, Harry Baker, performed a hilarious combination of old and new poems including ‘A Love Poem for Lonely Prime Numbers’.
This was the perfect finish to a wonderfully inspiring and motivating conference which was an invaluable aid to our studies as well as a fabulous celebration of contemporary poetry - all thanks to our amazing teachers Mrs Bond, Mrs Dickinson and Mr Fulton.
Anna, Lower Sixth Student