Poetry By Heart Blog

Learning a sonnet? It’s (like) a piece of cake

7th March 2017

Alison Powell explains the similarities between cake eating and sonnet memorization to students.

You’ve probably heard your teachers going on about how wonderful the bard is. ‘William Shakespeare was a genius,’ they might say. ‘Look. He wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets. Isn’t he amazing?’

And you might be thinking, ‘Big deal. Ed Sheeran has written at least 38 songs we know about, plus a heap he’s written for other people and he probably has a few more up his sleeve. What’s all the fuss?’

The trouble with this type of thinking is that it assumes a deep knowledge of something without proper experience of it. It’s a bit like saying you know what this cake tastes like, just by looking at the picture:

20170307_BLOG_Cake

Cake: Looks chocolate-y and good, but you can’t know how delicious it really is without taking a bite.

Perhaps you’re now thinking, ‘Yes, but I have read Shakespeare, actually. We did Romeo and Juliet/Macbeth/Othello in school last term.’

That’s great. But although reading a play in the classroom does give you a bit more of a flavour, it can be more like looking at a recipe and saying you’ve eaten the cake.

Amazing Chocolate Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175 g butter …

Again, you’re getting an idea of the cake, but you’re not getting the full experience of tasting it. You can think of a play as a recipe for actors. Until it’s brought to life on stage, it’s a bit flavourless and two-dimensional. You’ve come closer to understanding Shakespeare, but still haven’t had a proper bite.

There is, of course, only way to truly know how lovely the cake actually is. I can talk to you about it for hours. I can describe the fluffy light sponge that melts on your tongue and the gorgeously not-too-sweet cream that oozes from its centre. Until you’ve had a proper mouthful of it, though, you’re never going to appreciate the full-taste experience.

So how do you eat the works of Shakespeare?

The most effective way, I’d argue, is to perform a play or a poem by learning the words by heart. Shakespeare’s sonnets are just fourteen lines in length, so they’re a great place to start.

To learn a sonnet, you’ll have to spend some time with it, pinning it up on the walls of your interior world so that when you speak it aloud you have the chance to taste the words without looking at them on paper.

In the process of memorizing the lines you’ll come to understand how they roll together, to know the rhythm and the underlying metre. You’ll get to know the words and start to notice their layers of meaning. You’ll begin to feel the way the poem turns around line eight and appreciate the satisfaction of the final rhyming couplet.

The words might even start to feel like they’re your own.

This is a totally different experience to reading the words on the page. And, like eating cake, it’s not something anyone else can do for you. You have to try it yourself.

20170307_BLOG_EatCake

Why is it worth it?

Without having a good mouthful of the actual cake, you’ll never know about the secret ingredients the chef has added to surprise you. Without learning a sonnet by heart and speaking it aloud, you’ll never get to know its truth.

So come and find out what the fuss is all about. Take a big bite of Shakespeare.

Share via

The NEW Learning Zone is Live!

2nd March 2017

20170302_Blog_learning-zoneWe are so excited to tell you all about our brand new Learning Zone, designed for teachers, students and curious visitors alike.

Each section of the Learning Zone is packed with useful materials – ranging from video performances to helpful guides on how to memorise a poem, and sign posting to blog posts that might be of interest and more.

We’ll be adding more materials to it over time, so check in regularly to see what’s new, plus we’re always looking for feedback on what you think about the Learning Zone and what you’d like to see in there. So feel free to drop us a line via info@poetrybyheart.org.uk – we’d love to hear what you think!

Visit The Learning Zone

Dividing Line

Tell Us Your Competition Date and Download Julie Blake’s Reflections on Memorising and Reciting Poetry!

20170302_Blog_icon-calendarWhile we were putting together our Learning Zone, we came across some GREAT materials that we thought teachers would LOVE to get their hands on.

In return for your competition date, we’re giving away this Julie Blake articl, which reflects on how memorising and reciting poems can transform the way we engage with, feel about, and understand poetry.

All you have to do is enter in the date of your Poetry By Heart competition, or your easy-peasy Shakespeare Sonnets competition, and you can download the link straight after!

20170302_Blog_blog-button-get-download

Dividing Line

20170302_Blog_icon-giftYour Pack Is On Its Way!

If you’re a registered school waiting for your poster pack, you’ll be pleased to know it’s on its way on their way! The packs include gorgeous posters about the competition for you to put up and a free copy of Forward Arts 100 Prized Poems, and more!

If you’d like a pack to help promote your Poetry By Heart competition, be sure you’re registered first or drop us an email via info@poetrybyheart.org.uk

Dividing LineThere’s Still Time To Hold A Competition – Why Not Have a Go?

20170302_Blog_icon-stage-micYou still have until the 31st of March to hold your very own Poetry By Heart competition with just three students, reciting two poems each. In just one lunch time, you could hold your competition and pick a winner.

Or why not try the Shakespeare Sonnet competition with just one student or member of staff by memorising and reciting a sonnet from our Shakespeare Sonnets showcase? You can download a cheatsheet by filling in this form.

With the return of closed-book questions returning to GCSE exams this year, poetry recitation is a valuable skill and the Shakespeare Sonnets competition, as well as our annual Poetry By Heart competition, are great opportunities for students to focus on practising their memory and recitation skills.

20170302_Blog_blog-button-download-cheatsheet

Dividing LineHeld Your Competition? Video Your Winner(s)

20170302_Blog_icon-video-screenIf you’ve already held your competition over a lunch time, lesson or assembly, then be sure to let us know who the winner is, plus, now is a good time to refer to Step 10 of the handbook for guidelines for videoing your winners’.

All registered schools have the competition handbook to refer to, but if you have misplaced yours simply drop us an email via info@poetrybyheart.org.uk

Uploader Coming Soon

We’re doing final tests on the video upload tool and the instructions for it. We will be ready for you to start uploading your videos soon – watch this space for more updates!

In the meantime, why not check out our NEW Performance Gallery, featuring performances from previous years’ contestants?

blog-button-get-help

Dividing LineTell Us Your Poetry By Heart Stories!

20170302_Blog_icon-storiesWhy not ask your competition winner(s) or any of the students who took part in Poetry By Heart to write to us telling us about competing in Poetry By Heart or about the experience of choosing, learning and reciting a poem.

Every year we are absolutely blown away by the stories teachers and students alike tell us about their experiences with Poetry By Heart. Why not get your students to share theirs?

We’ve a pile of special poetry prizes for the best stories – so we look forward to reading your story soon!

20170302_Blog_blog-button-your-experience

Dividing Line

20170302_Blog_icon-supportNeed Support?

Our team of competition advisors are here to help – simply drop us an email via info@poetrybyheart.org.uk and we will give you a call whenever is best for you to take you through your questions and also help you set up your competition!

20170302_Blog_blog-button-request-help

Share via

The Ear Is The Best Reader

24th February 2017

As Robert Frost once said, ‘the ear is the best reader’ and it is on this philosophy that The Poetry Archive was founded.

After meeting in a recording studio, Sir Andrew Motion (UK Poet Laureate 1999 – 2009) and the recording producer Richard Carrington, agreed how enjoyable and illuminating it is to hear poets reading their work and how regrettable it was that in the twentieth century many important poets had not been properly recorded. Major poets such as Hardy, Housman, Lawrence had never been recorded at all, and now that opportunity was lost forever.

Launched in 2005, the Poetry Archive now offers a free resource of national and international significance which has at its heart a belief in the profound insights that come from hearing poets’ own readings of their work.

From www.poetryarchive.org you can access and listen to the world’s premier online collection of recordings of poets reading their own work. The Archive exists to make poetry accessible, relevant and enjoyable to as wide audience as possible so alongside freely accessible recordings and a wealth of background information and materials, the Poetry Archive continues to develop new ways to provide teachers with the support they need. We have a range of exciting plans in the pipeline for 2017 and if you would like to get involved, or benefit from special offers and priority news on projects and developments, or simply hear our latest news, please subscribe to our teachers newsletter here.

We want you to love exploring our Poets and collections and we will continue to develop resources with teachers’ needs in mind:

MyArchive: The MyArchive feature of our website allows you to create your own account and bookmark collections and recordings that you would like to quickly and easily return to later, creating bespoke lessons and streaming collections as and when you are ready. There is no limit to the number of collections you can create, or how long you can keep them – they will be saved and ready as you need them.

Classroom Collections: If you don’t need to keep your own collections ready using MyArchive, you can use one of our tailor made Classroom Collections, which have been curated with teaching in mind. Go to the Teach section of our website and you will find collections such as Gothic Poetry, WW1 Poetry and Caribbean Poetry alongside suggested Lesson Plans and Glossary terms.

Download Audio: Our collections are free where we are able to negotiate those rights with our Poets and publishers, but if you wanted to take poems further you can use our Download Store to purchase individual poems and load them onto other devices to play anytime. We have created specific GCSE teaching focused albums, such as, ‘Poems from the AQA GCSE Anthology’, ‘Poems from the Edexcel GCSE Anthology’ and ‘Power and Conflict (Poems from GCSE Anthologies)’ to support your activities.

We are delighted to continue to support Poetry By Heart and we hope you enjoy exploring our collections.

We look forward to sharing our future plans with you.

Tracey Guiry
Director
The Poetry Archive

Between 2013 and 2016 Poetry By Heart was the principal educational initiative of The Poetry Archive, developed with The Full English and supported by the Department of Education. It was co-founded by Andrew Motion (Co-Director of The Poetry Archive) and Julie Blake ) Co-Director of The Full English and Education Director of The Poetry Archive) in February 2012.

Share via

Shakespeare Sonnet Competition Update

23rd February 2017

20170220_EMAIL_TeachIt_Shakes_1Schools all over the country are setting up their dates for the simple 1 student or 1 staff Shakespeare Sonnet competition and we’re here to help you set up your own!

Why not challenge yourself to learn a sonnet you’re teaching this year by heart? We’ve got all of the sonnets available in our Shakespeare Sonnets Showcase here.

Get started with your Shakespeare sonnet competition by downloading the cheatsheet here and why not contact us if you need any extra support?

Download

Dividing Line

Need Help with PBH 2017?

pbh-handbook-270-170-1The Poetry By Heart competition only needs 3 students to memorise 2 poems (pre-1914, and post-1914), and for you to select 1 winner by 31st March 2017.

Our team of experienced support staff will give you all the best tips and tricks for hosting your competition before the deadline: 31st March 2017. We’ll help you get started and finished in no time at all.

The competition handbook is available to all registered schools and colleges by email in a print friendly format. Simply print off the whole thing or just the pages you need.

If you’d like to have a friendly chat about tips and tricks for getting your competition off the ground – be it Poetry By Heart or the Shakespeare Sonnets competition – we’re here to help and we hope to hear from you soon.

blog-button-questions

Dividing Line

Your Stories!

Every year we love to hear stories from students and staff who participated in Poetry By Heart – the annual competition to help students discover the joy of memorising and reciting poetry.

Here’s just some of the brilliant tweets and reports we’ve been getting from participating schools.

blog-button-2

Whitley Bay High School

20170224_BLOG_WBHS_2

20170224_BLOG_WBHS_1

Dividing Line

Isleworth & Syon School

20170224_BLOG_IseworthSyon

Dividing Line

Richmond Park Academy

20170224_BLOG_RichmondParkAcademy

Dividing Line

Teesdale School

20170224_BLOG_Teesdale_1

Images used with consent

“The schools very active Poetry Club hosted [this year’s Poetry By Heart] event and we were delighted that once again Anne Fine was able to join us as Chair of the Judges.

“This year’s joint winners were Jake Knight and Cal Baker, both in Year 10, who between them recited the poetry of Clough, Gunn, Wilde and Frost.

“They were variously complimented on their ability to learn the poetry with a high degree of accuracy and also to really modulate their voices effectively.

“From this round the students will work on their performances and then go on to have a video recording made of this which will allow judges to decide who goes forward into the final.

Images used with consent

Images used with consent

“In a curriculum where certainly for English Literature at GCSE and A Level, students need to learn quotations from set texts by heart, competitions such as these very much support students’ learning. Also this year for the first time there is another element to the Poetry by Heart Competition, which involves quite simply, learning one of Shakespeare’s sonnets by heart and then reciting it and we are all looking forward to this and hope many of students, and indeed teachers from school, will enter.

“Cassie M Flint”

Dividing LineIf you’d like to tell us about how your competition went, why not get in touch or message us on Twitter or Facebook, too?

 

blog-button-2

Share via

On It Like A Sonnet

20th February 2017

Click to view full size

Our Facebook and Twitter messages recently have featured Shakespeare and learning sonnets.

We thought it would be a fun challenge to see if you could learn a sonnet in a week to join in with our Shakespeare Sonnet competition, which is all about making it quick and easy to run a poetry recitation competition in your school.

You only need one competitor to enter, and anyone in your school – students from Year 7-13, and teaching and support staff, too! – can take part (we hope you’ll find than one).

We’ve created a really easy little step by step ‘recipe for a competition’ cheatsheet for you to download, which tells you everything you need to know about holding this competition.

Download

The Shakespeare Sonnet competition deadline is 31st March 2017, and we have prizes for winners so be sure to tell us who they are!

blog-button-winner

Dividing Line

Visit The Shakespeare Sonnet Showcase

20170220_Blog_Shakes

Click to visit now

Did you know our Shakespeare Sonnet Showcase has been designed to help you find your favourite sonnet?

Each sonnet contains audio clips to listen to, and there are activities designed to help you explore your sonnet in different ways.

Our filters also help you discover sonnets by theme and keywords – why not try a word based on your mood or your favourite season to see what pops up?

 

 

Dividing Line

Poetry By Heart 2017 at The British Library!

British Library -- Credit: Tony AntoniouWe’re delighted to announce that we’re holding this year’s Poetry By Heart Winners’ Weekend at the prestigious British Library in London.

The Winners’ Weekend is where all the county winners from this year’s Poetry By Heart competition will be competing to win the coveted Poetry By Heart National Winner’s Trophy.

The very best reciters of the Shakespeare Sonnets will be invited to perform their poems live on stage at this special occasion. There will be prizes!

Save The Date

The Winner’s Weekend is taking place on 22nd and 23rd April 2017, and we’ll be sharing more details throughout the next few weeks so be sure to sign up to our newsletter and watch this space.

Confirmed Judges

Here’s a little about some of the judges who have confirmed will be there so far!

Daljit Nagra – visit Dajit’s site

Patience Agbabi – check out Patience Twitter feed here

Tim Dee – read more about Tim here

Glyn Maxwell – look at Glyn’s Twitter

Jean Sprackland – visit Jean’s website here

Register today

Dividing Line

Free Registration Pack On Its Way To You!

If you’ve already registered, you will already have your competition handbook, but if you’ve misplaced it, just email us via info@poetrybyheart.org.uk and we will send it to you within 24hrs of registering.

The handbook has everything you need to get started immediately. There is still time to hold a small Poetry By Heart competition (all you need is three students), or the Shakespeare Sonnet in a Month challenge.

PLUS, all registered schools and colleges will receive their FREE registration pack, which is brimming with goodies:

FREE posters:

FREE Posters

with NEW designs and bookplates:

New Designs and Bookplates

and FREE books:

FREE books

Want a pack?

Register today

Dividing Line

NEW Learning Zone Coming Soon

Our Poetry By Heart Learning Zone is coming soon. Full of tips and tricks on how to bring more poetry into the classroom, as well as some of our guides on how to make the most of the website.

We’ll announce it’s live via our newsletter and the blog, so be sure to watch this space!

Dividing Line

Get Involved Today!

We have plenty of experience in helping schools hold their competition – and we can get you set up as quickly as 3, 2, 1 – three students, two poems each, one winner.

Whether you decide to the main competition or the Shakespeare Sonnet competition (remember: you only need one entrant for that!), the first step is getting in touch – so drop us an email and let us know what you’d like us to help you with today.

Email Us

Share via

Poetry By Heart Newsletter

7th February 2017

Poetry By Heart Newsletter February 2017

Poetry By Heart Competition 2017 Update

This is our fifth year running the competition, and 2017’s competition is in full swing.

We’ve been receiving notifications from schools all over England that they’re planning on holding – or have already held – their competitions. We’ve loved seeing the photos and hearing about the winners on Twitter.

Set A Competition Date? Let Us Know on Twitter!

Not registered yet or need help setting up your competition?

There’s lots of help at hand! We’ve already emailed all registered schools their competition handbook – no more waiting for the post!

But if you’ve misplaced yours, just email info@poetrybyheart.org.uk or pick up the phone and call us on +44 (0)117 905 5338. You can get started immediately!

Register Your School Today

Dividing Line

Making Your Winner’s Video Submission – Celebrating Your Winners

Once you’ve held your competition, you will need to make a video of your winner’s recitation.

The videos are simple to make and are an excellent way to document the winner’s achievement. You can use the videos to promote your school, your students, and their passion for poetry.

As well as sharing the videos with parents and the rest of the school, why not share them with the local radio station, too? Local communities love poetry, too!

Whether you’ve already held your competition or not, the video recordings are an extra opportunity for winners to polish their performance for the finals.

We’ve provided guidelines on how to make a quick and easy video of your winner in the competition handbook (can’t find yours? Contact us!).

Once you’ve created your winner’s recital video, get in touch and let us know. Our panel of judges will then select the County Winners from your video submissions.

The County Winners will be invited to the live National Finals to battle it out to become Regional Champions. The Regional Champions then compete to find out who is the National Poetry By Heart Champion 2017!

There’s still time to set up and hold your very own Poetry By Heart competition!

If you’d like some extra support to get up and running, don’t hesitate to get in touch via info@poetrybyheart.org.uk or pick up the phone and call us on +44 (0)117 905 5338.

blog-button-get-help

Dividing Line

Shakespeare Sonnets Competition – The Perfect Half Term Challenge!

Recently we announced our new Shakespeare Sonnets showcase. The collection is vibrant and colourful, and features all 154 sonnets for you to enjoy. To celebrate this great addition to our site, we’ve launched a fun Shakespeare recitation competition!

The competition is open to all schools in England. Students from KS3 and above can enter, and we’ve opened up the Shakespeare competition to teaching and support staff to take part in, too!

We’ve made the competition so simple: all you need is one adult entry, and/or one student entry!

Simply send us the video of their sonnet performance and you’ve successfully held the Shakespeare Sonnet Competition!

The deadline for submissions is the same as the Poetry By Heart competition: 31st March 2017.

Get started by registering your school.

Half Term Challenge. Why not challenge students and staff alike to select a sonnet and learn it by heart over the half term break? Narrow down the search: try filtering to the Classics. Try picking a theme close to your heart and use our keyword filter! E.g. your favourite season winter or summer. E.g. Something romantic such as eyes, heart, love or kiss

Remember to let us know about your Shakespeare competition. The best ones will be invited to perform them live!

Watch this space for more updates about our Shakespeare Sonnets showcase and competition.

Dividing Line

Get In Touch – Support and Updates

If you’re not registered yet, or you’re worried you don’t have time, or just don’t know where to start, we’re here to help!

You only need 3 students for your competition, two poems each, and 1 competition this term!

Why not start by setting a half term challenge to learn a poem by heart (see above)?

Ways to get in touch:

blog-button-2

Dividing Line

Jacob Polley wins TS Eliot Prize!

In other poetry news, we’d like to congratulate Jacob Polley, who has won the prestigious TS Eliot Prize for his collection Jackself (2016).

Polley features in our anthology timeline, designed to take visitors on a journey through over a thousand years of poetry. Why not start with a visit to Polley’s poem Langley Lane?

Polley’s work is often threaded with observations of the natural world, sometimes described as haunting yet lyrical. He offers an unexpected perspective on everyday things, and Jackself joins his collection of poetry The Brink (2003), and his novel Talk Of The Town (2009).

Visit our Anthology Timeline

Dividing Line

Calling All Poetry Lovers!

Don’t worry if your school isn’t in England but you would still like to hold your own competition, you absolutely can!

Get in touch via info@poetrybyheart.org.uk or pick up the phone and call us on +44 (0)117 905 5338 – we would love to hear about which poems you chose to learn by heart, or what you’ve liked most about Poetry By Heart.

Want More Updates? Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Share via

Register for FREE Poetry By Heart resources

23rd January 2017

Help your students learn poems by heart – and have fun! Join the FREE competition for schools and colleges in England.

Our Poetry By Heart poetry recitation competition is open for 2017!

It’s our fifth year running the successful competition designed to take poetry off the page and bring it to life through teachers and students and on the stage. It’s very easy to participate!

All you need is 3 students, 2 poems and 1 Spring term!

Simply register your school here and we will send you our free resource pack which includes:

  • a free copy of Forward Arts 100 Prized Poems
  • gorgeous classroom poem posters to help promote your competition
  • our competition handbook to help you get students learning poems by heart.

If you’re not at a school in England you can still learn more by signing up for our newsletter where we’ll keep you informed of all our latest developments and the newest poems made available on our site. These web resources are free to use for anyone, anywhere in the world – fill your boots!

Or get in touch with us via info@poetrybyheart.org.uk with your questions.

 

NEW Shakespeare Sonnets Showcase

Shakespeare-Background-300x280

 

We’re absolutely delighted to announce a brand new showcase dedicated to celebrating Shakespeare and his sonnets written over 400 years ago.

The Shakespeare Sonnets showcase has been designed to be really accessible to students and teachers alike; we’ve made all 154 sonnets available for you in one easy to view page.

Jump into a random sonnet or use the filters to sort through numerically, or find a sonnet that fits a theme you’re currently discussing. The keyword search facility is excellent for finding that one sonnet you’re looking for, or just sating your curiosity.

We’ve also handpicked an assortment of sonnets we’ve called our Chosen 60 that we think are particularly interesting, with activities to bring the sonnets to life just a click away. Take your ears on a Shakespearean journey and listen to the sonnets performed by various notable performers and – if you’re really inspired – why not pick a sonnet to recite in our up-coming Shakespeare Sonnet competition – watch this space for more information soon!

 

Explore our other showcases

Showcases

Have you had a chance to view our other showcases? Our First World War Poetry showcase is different to typical collections, introducing a wide range of voices on the event, and our Poetry For Children has been created with bright colourful pictures to capture imaginations and fun activities to try.

 

Keep Up To Date

Our newsletter is free and sent straight to your inbox. Sign up here and we’ll keep you informed of all of the latest poems on the site, up-coming events news and more.

If you still have questions, get in touch with us by email via info@poetrybyheart.org.uk or call 0117 905 5338.

Share via