Judging a Verse Speaking Competition at Rye St. Anthony School

Verse Speaking Prize

On 31 March 2011, Jenny Lewis returned to Rye St Anthony School, Oxford, to judge the Sugg Cup for Verse Speaking. The prizes were awarded on an number of criteria including the speaker’s understanding and interpretation of the poem, her ability to engage the audience’s attention throughout and the ability to share and promote delight in poetry and the written word.

The outright winner was Alice Goodger who read the first third of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock absolutely brilliantly. Jenny says “Despite the complexity of the verse, she managed to hold the attention of the audience, including much younger girls, from start to finish. A worthy winner and a highlight of my week.”

World Book Week

On Friday 4th March 2011, Jenny Lewis ran some creative writing workshops at Rye St Antony School, Oxford to celebrate World Book Week. The morning started with a quiz organised by some of the sixth formers to promote books in the school library (“I did get some of the answers right!” says Jenny.)

She then worked with two groups – one GCSE top set for English, then a larger group of girls from 13 – 18 years old. As one of the books to be given away in World Book Week wasThe World’s Wife, by Carol Ann Duffy, Jenny took the poem Demeter from the book, and then asked the students to write an answering poem from Persephone’s viewpoint. “The poems produced were excellent,” she says, “and the buzz in the classroom around the idea of creativity and storytelling was fantastic.”

The girls were then each given a copy of The World’s Wife and asked to write an individual poem for a competition. Here is a taste of some of the poems produced:

From ‘Persephone’

– a group poem by Years 13-19 poetry workshop

The tears leaked out as I bit
Into the scarlet jewels,
Syrup fell from my lips.
A moment of temptation
A lifetime of regret.

Our meeting was sweet
Yet hard with sorrow
For the hard loss was not far away.

From ‘Obliviate’

– a group poem by Year 11 poetry workshop

To forget what you cherish
To erase from existence
A few mocking flickers as if of life
In mindless limbs.
A dark and deep pit of loss
Collision, impact: a hollow, empty shell.