Wigan student Jessica Mason wins Poetry By Heart contest for pupils
A student from a sixth form college in Wigan has won this year’s Poetry By Heart competition for secondary school pupils. Jessica Mason, pictured right, from St John Rigby College recited three poems – ‘The Chimney Sweeper’ by William Blake, ‘How to Kill’ (Keith Douglas), and ‘My Grandfather at the Pool’ (Glyn Maxwell) – in the final at Homerton College, Cambridge University, at the end of a search for a champion that began six months ago with thousands of students taking part in school competitions up and down the country.
The chair of the judging panel and co-founder of Poetry By Heart, Andrew Motion, said Jesica’s performance was marked by “passion and intelligence”. Praising the performances of all 41 regional finallists, he added: “Over this weekend our students have shown us the acoustic qualities of verse in ways which have been immensely powerful and moving.”
Jessica, who is studying A-level English literature, English language, biology and history, said: “I can’t believe I’ve won. It’s been a fantastic weekend. I loved choosing poems that I could really relate to and I enjoyed reciting them in such beautiful surroundings with such lovely people.”
Second place went to Alice Grundy, pictured left, from Brentwood School in Essex, and Ella Blackburn, centre, from Teesdale school in Durham was third.
The panel of judges included Andrew Motion, Jean Sprackland, Daljit Nagra, Patience Agbabi, Glyn Maxwell and Tim Dee. The poet Jacob Sam-La Rose hosted the event throughout the weekend. The education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said: “I am delighted to support Poetry by Heart. By encouraging children to enjoy literature, we are not just building their imagination but helping to boost their writing and vocabulary skills too, giving them the foundation they need to get on in life. Competitions like this will also help develop confidence and character in young people. I want to congratulate the finalists and everyone who took part, they should all be very proud of their achievements.”