High-quality field in performance poetry competition

Viraj Mehta has won the QE Year 7 poetry competition with a “confident and highly polished” performance.

Every pupil in Year 7 was required to give a performance reading of a poem based on this year’s theme of conflict.

Viraj presented the poem For the Fallen by Robert Lawrence Binyon. First published in September 1914, it contains the famous verse adopted by the Royal British Legion as an exhortation for ceremonies of remembrance:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

“He was a well-deserved winner,” said Assistant Head of English Victoria Maule, who organised the competition. “He gave a truly remarkable performance, which was wonderfully confident.”  

The first-round readings took place during lessons. Teachers scored each pupil's performance out of 20, based on as assessment of expression, dramatic interpretation, gesture, clarity, pace and timing, awareness of audience, eye contact, volume and intonation. 

The top-scoring six boys from each class went through to the semi-finals; these took place during lunchtime and were judged by Ms Maule and Mr Morrison.  The 12 pupils who achieved the highest scores progressed to the final, which took place in the main School Hall and was judged by A-level English students, Adam Hilsenrath (the School Captain) and Rubin Khojasteh.

""Each year a different theme is selected for the competition. This year the boys were free to select any poem based on conflict, providing it did not exceed 25 lines in length. Alternatively they could read an extract of up to 25 lines from a longer poem. For the semi-finals and final, pupils were expected to have learnt the poem by heart.

"The performance of the finalists this year was very impressive,” said Ms Maule. “The boys demonstrated a mature engagement with the emotional dynamics of the theme, which enhanced the delivery and interpretation of their chosen poems. The competition is instrumental in celebrating the live nature of poetry as an art form, and encouraging boys to engage sensitively and intellectually with language and verse.”