Published on: Friday, November 17, 2023
On a crisp Wednesday following Remembrance Sunday, our Chapel was abuzz with the anticipation of its now-traditional poetry recitation event, a highlight in our school’s cultural calendar. This year, we welcomed new attendees alongside seasoned poetry enthusiasts, promising a feast of oratory skill and literary appreciation.
The event – a testament to the school’s commitment to the arts – featured five finalists from the pupil body, each set to recite a poem of considerable renown. The audience, comprising both pupils and staff, was entrusted with the unique responsibility of selecting the 'Audience Favourite', a much-coveted accolade.
Esteemed guests graced the judging panel, including Father Mark, our School Chaplain and Taunton-based poet and sculptor, Stefan Jennings, Mrs. Gompels, Head of English at King's College Prep, and Mr. Wootton, an expert in English and drama. Their task was formidable: to listen intently to diverse poetic renditions and to reach an unbiased verdict to determine the overall winner.
The recitations spanned a wide range of themes and eras, beginning with Ruby M’s rendition of ‘Envy’ by Adelaide Anne Proctor. The poem, echoing Proctor’s own melancholic yet powerful voice, set a poignant tone for the event.
Roger C followed with Seamus Heaney's ‘Follower’, a reflective piece on paternal admiration and the evolution of familial roles, deeply resonant with Heaney’s Irish heritage and personal journey.
‘O Captain! My Captain!’ was eloquently recited by Georgina E, bringing to life Walt Whitman’s anguish over Abraham Lincoln's assassination. The poem, rich in metaphor and emotion, captivated the audience with its rhythmic solemnity.
Shifting to contemporary themes, the event featured Alex Dang’s ‘What Kind of Asian?’. Recited by Herbert Y with a blend of passion and introspection, the poem challenged stereotypes and invited a deeper understanding of racial identity, reflecting Dang's own experiences.
Concluding the event, Peter M’s recitation of Robert Frost's ‘The Road Not Taken’ offered a contemplative close. The poem is a classic study of choice and its repercussions resonated with Frost's own life experiences, drawing a parallel to Edward Thomas’s fateful decisions during World War I.
The recitations were not only a display of literary knowledge but also an embodiment of the school's ethos in promoting deep thinking and emotional intelligence. The overall winner was Ruby M, with runners-up Roger C and Peter M. As the pupils and staff engaged in the difficult task of choosing their favourite, they were reminded of the power of the spoken word to convey complex emotions and ideas, transcending the mere written text. They chose Herbert Y as their winner.