Poetry symposia: pre-judging the judges

Gifted and talented boys from Year 11 joined their peers from a leading girls’ school in a series of academic symposia that shadowed the judging of the 2012 TS Eliot Prize for poetry.

The pupils from QE and the North London Collegiate School debated the merits of the shortlisted works for the prize, which is organised by the Poetry Book Society.

“The events were targeted at pupils who have shown a particular talent for English combined with a demonstrable ability to think independently,” said Head of English, Susannah Sweetman. “During each session of the symposia, pupils explored, analysed and discussed two of the short-listed poets. This led to thought-provoking and stimulating debates, providing the participants with a taste of English study at A-level standard.”

""The QE and NLCS pupils looked at the ten volumes selected for this year’s shortlist from the 131 works submitted by publishers. They are: Simon Armitage The Death of King Arthur; Sean Borodale Bee Journal; Gillian Clarke Ice; Julia Copus The World's Two Smallest Humans; Paul Farley The Dark Film; Jorie Graham P L A C E; Kathleen Jamie The Overhaul; Sharon Olds Stag's Leap; Jacob Polley The Havocs and Deryn Rees-Jones Burying the Wren.

The symposia were chaired by QE Year 13 student Sheharyar Hasan, who hopes to study English at university.

""Miss Sweetman added: “I have been thoroughly impressed by the quality of the debates and discussions regarding the poetry. It has been a rewarding experience for students at both schools who have developed confidence and passion in putting across their personal view.”

This year’s judging panel for the TS Eliot Prize is Carol Ann Duffy (Chair), Michael Longley and David Morley. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in the Southbank Centre’s Festival Hall in January.