In these turbulent times, we were absolutely delighted to receive some good news in the tail end of last week. In March, we reported that Year 11 student Albert Campling had qualified for the Poetry by Heart national finals. This meant that he was in the top 10 in the whole of the UK! These were due to take part in Central London but were unfortunately cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The competition pressed on with a virtual competition, and we were thrilled that Albert received a special commendation from the judges for his outstanding performance!

For the competition, Albert re-submitted his videos from the previous round. Here’s a video of one recital:

The comments from the judges were outstanding. Albert’s first poem was ‘Boat Stealing’ (excerpt from ‘The Prelude’) by William Wordsworth, and the judges said:

“This is a dramatic, intelligent, exciting, even daring reading of Wordsworth’s blank verse, full of emotion and invention which captures the youthful drama with great conviction. Facial expressions are, for the most part, really helpful and the clarity of your articulation is superb.”

For his second poem (‘The Beast in the Space’ by W.S. Graham), the judges remarked:

Another captivating, daring, entertaining and audacious performance with that startling opening. You had a good grip on the restless mindset of the poem and you deliver the tension effectively. Your intonation and the pauses are superb and your body language is impressive.”

An esteemed panel of poets and poetry experts judged the final, which had an extraordinarily high standard of competition across the ten finalists. It is particularly impressive to note that Albert was the only student representing the London area. Although Albert didn’t ultimately place in the top three, the panel has asked him to perform at a finalist showcase event in the autumn, have uploaded his video to their website, and featured him in a showcase trailer! The comments above show that they were very impressed with the level of his performances.

Placing in the top 10 of a national competition, as well as attaining a special commendation, is a phenomenal achievement. The English department is grateful for his commitment to Poetry by Heart – he has taken part every single year since Year 7 and been a real role model for other students. Well done, Albert – we hope that you continue your poetry studies in future!


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