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NHEHS Hosts GCSE English Poetry Conference

We were delighted to host 65 Year 11s from Elthorne Park High School at our GCSE English Poetry Conference last week.  The conference featured Daljit Nagra, who features on several exam syllabuses for GCSE and A Level, and Hannah Lowe, who recently won the Costa Poetry award. Students worked in small groups together from both schools.

Daljit Nagra is a renowned British poet whose four poetry collections have won the Forward Prize, The South Bank Decibel Award and the Cholmondeley Award. He is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, the Council of Society of Authors, national advisor to Poetry by Heart and a PBS New Generation Poet. He was also the inaugural Poet-in-Residence for BBC Radio 4 and 4 Extra and presents their weekly Poetry Extra Programme. A number of his poems relate to the experience of Indians born in the UK and often employ language that imitates the English spoken by Indian immigrants whose first language is Punjabi, which some have termed ‘Punglish.’

Hannah Lowe is a poet, memoirist and academic. Her latest collection, The Kids, inspired by her time working as a secondary school teacher, won the Costa Poetry Award and the Costa Book of the Year in 2021. She was written six collections of poetry and in September 2014 was named as one of 20 Next Generation poets. She undertook her AHRC-funded PhD in Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and now lectures in Creative Writing at Brunel University.

After welcoming our guests, the conference kicked off with Dalit talked about poetry, sharing some of his own with the audience, including the thought-provoking Macho Man. In mixed groups, students were set an interactive creative task to write their own poems on any subject, inspired by some of Daljit’s ideas. He encouraged the students to be creative,  showing that poetry does not always have to take a traditional form. The students then shared their poems, written on a wide range of topics, including their favourite things, a particularly memorable poem about things that should be reversed, with one even taking the form of a pie chart! Daljit gave his feedback before holding a Q&A with the students.

Hannah Lowe then showed students how to analyse poetry, giving valuable advice and tips.

At the close of the event, we received some lovely feedback from Elthorne Park High School whose students really enjoyed the morning.

For World Poetry Day the following week, our Senior School assembly focused on poetry and the importance of reading a diverse range of authors. Miss Holmes interviewed Daljit Nagra on the day of our conference for his thoughts. Watch why he believes poetry is a good way to do this below:

We also celebrated World Poetry Day with a wonderful display of original poetry from our Years 7-9 students on the themes of the seasons and the environment. You can see some of the lovely poems here.

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