George the Poet reaches the world

Old Elizabethan George the Poet – or George Mpanga – had a truly global audience when he performed at the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup.

2015 has been a glittering year for George (OE 2002-2009), who is booked to return to his alma mater in February 2016, when he will be the speaker at the Year 12 Luncheon. He will also lead a poetry workshop in the English department.

After gaining A grades in English Literature, Sociology and Politics A-levels at QE, George won a place at King’s College, Cambridge, to read Politics, Psychology and Sociology (PPS). He was elected Chair of King’s College Student Union.

In the opening ceremony at Twickenham, his highest-profile event to date, he strode on to the pitch and told the crowd: “We have earned a place in history.” Observing that “one side’s domination will be the pride of a nation,” he continued: “It’s a time of elation, a time of destiny, respect, integrity, a special kind of beauty.” And he concluded with these lines: “It will be remembered, we came together as one.”

""George was described by the Cheltenham Literature Festival in August as “the hottest name in spoken word”: he headed the poetry strand as a Guest Director and spearheaded the festival’s schools’ poetry competition.

He is shortly due to embark on his second national tour of the year, having completely sold out venues from Glasgow to Brighton during the spring.

His first poetry collection, Search Party, was published in February.

Among the other triumphs he has enjoyed this year are:

  • ""A runner-up place in the Brits Critics’ Choice Award, fifth place in the prestigious BBC Sound of 2015 Award and tenth place in MTV’s Brand New for 2015 competition – in each case competing as a poet against a field that comprised largely musicians
  • Appearances at this year’s Penguin Random House 2015 conference, on BBC Radio 2 to talk about his book and on BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme to discuss the day’s news
  • The launch of his video for the Prince’s Trust highlighting the emotional problems faced by young people. The video features his poem, Only One You, written in response to the trust’s 2015 Youth Index, which found evidence of high levels of anxiety among young people
  • Being the subject of a BBC Radio 1 documentary and of several national newspaper features.