Poetry came alive at The Abbey on Monday morning, as the week began with the annual verse speaking competition. Finalists from each year group recited poems from memory, ranging from humorous rhymes by Roald Dahl to darker, introspective verse from the likes of Rudyard Kipling and Charles Causley. The audience was treated to fantastic performances from all of the finalists. Particular mention should go to the year 2 children who came up to The Abbey to join the competition and whose confidence and enthusiasm was absolutely outstanding.
The winner of the year 2 competition was Edward Saunders, who recited ‘The Alien’ by Michael Miles and really made it his own. In year 3, the winner was Beatrice Liddy, who performed ‘The Pig’ by Roald Dahl and told the story of the clever pig beautifully, really drawing the audience in. Year 4’s winner was Charlotte Hattan, who took Lewis Carroll’s ‘The Jabberwocky’, with all of its tricky nonsense words, and made us understand it perfectly.
In year 5, with a clean sweep for the Saunders family, the winner was Evelyn Saunders, who recited ‘The Dark’ by James Carter; her performance was beautifully dramatic, but at the same time kept a sense of the poetry and gave us a very personal response in the recitation. The year 6 competition was a real treat, with a huge range of poems chosen. The winner of the year group was Henry Dinwiddy, with his powerful and musical performance of Banjo Patterson’s ‘Song of the Artesian Water’, which he communicated rhythmically and convincingly. The overall winner of the whole competition, and winner of the Poetry cup on Speech Day, was Olivia Max with her evocative recitation of ‘The Summer Day’ by Mary Oliver. She captivated the audience and had us hanging on her every word.
A huge thanks must go to Mrs Alex Davis, who provided insightful and inspirational feedback to every single finalist and who drew the whole competition together in a poignant closing quotation from the poet Jean Sprackland: “Taking a poem into your heart makes it part of you. Saying the poem aloud makes you part of its life in the world.” As Mrs Davis said, despite the fact that many of the poets have been dead for a long time, their poems gained new life in this competition at The Abbey.