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Poetry by Heart 2021

About the competition

Poetry By Heart 2021 launched on 30th September 2020 and you have until 28th February 2021 to hold your school or college Poetry By Heart event – and to upload your national competition entry. For eligible registered schools, we have created a poem-a-month calendar which includes an overview of the competition, monthly updates to help you join in with the fun and lots of information about poetry resources and events from our partners. If your work is in a school/college in England and it’s registered for Poetry By Heart we will already have sent that. If not, talk to us on info@poetrybyheart.org.uk about getting your hands on a printed copy, or download the digital version now from our Teaching Zone.


Mostly the competition stays the same as last year with some enhancements for clarity and some new opportunities to give maximum flexibility to schools and colleges to shape it their way. We’ve simplified the competition entry system with a new point-and-shoot video upload. Competition categories below…


This is the classic school/college competition for individuals reciting 2 poems from the Poetry By Heart website, one published before 1914 and one published in or after 1914. You can submit one entry for each key stage (KS2 to KS5) per school or college. 10 winners in each key stage, from each region of England, will compete to become Poetry By Heart national champions for 2020 and perform at the finalists showcase event at the British Library in London in Spring 2021 (date to be confirmed as soon as Covid-19 allows us to). Entry deadline: 28th February 2021.


This is the school/college competition that celebrates many different ways of sharing poetry aloud, tweaked slightly for clarity – 1 poem from the Poetry By Heart website, 3 entry categories – individual freestyle, pair/small group, large group/whole class – one entry per category per school. The 10 best performances from across the 3 categories will be invited to perform at the finalists showcase event at the British Library in London in Spring 2021 (date to be confirmed as soon as Covid-19 allows us to). School/college staff will be able to enter too! Entry deadline: 28th February 2021.


If a competition really doesn’t suit what you’re doing, you can submit up to 9 video performances per school, any poem, any style, any age, any number of participants and we’ll feature the best in the Performance Gallery on the Poetry By Heart website. Entry deadline: any time before 31st March 2021.


One school or college finalist from key stage 4 or 5 will be chosen to represent England in a special student performance showcase at the hugely prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize awards ceremony in Toronto in June 2021. Travel, accommodation and meals for one pupil and one teacher or other chaperone all provided.