The words I love: pupils discover their teachers’ favourite poems

The words I love: pupils discover their teachers’ favourite poems

The English department celebrated National Poetry Day by putting together a collection of QE teachers’ favourite poems which included verse that was variously inspiring, thought-provoking and just sheer fun.

Staff from across the departments took part, showing pupils that poetry is enjoyed by teachers from all subject areas. Boy were invited to approach them during the day and ask them about their choices.

The selected poems ranged from ancient to modern, from the emphatically high-brow to some much-loved examples of nonsense verse.

The anthology included poems by two Old Elizabethan poets, George Mpanga (George the Poet, 2002–2009) and QE’s poet-in-residence, Anthony Anaxagorou (1994–1999). Anthony, who runs a weekly poetry workshop for the boys, gave his reaction to the National Poetry Day initiative: “The students of ‘QE Boys’ continue to show a great appetite and appreciation for poetry, which is so heartening to see.”

Head of English Robbie Hyland explained why he had asked colleagues to reveal their favourite lines: “Everyone has a connection with poetry at some point in their lives – we read poems as children, study them at school, and encounter them throughout everyday life. I hope that by sharing poems that resonate with us, we can spark conversations about the values, ideas, and memories that matter to us as individuals.

“The staff have nominated an incredibly wide-ranging selection, from poems that inspire, to poems that address problematic issues in the modern world. I’ve really enjoyed reading the selections which teachers have nominated.”

Boys were informed about the plans for the day during registration, when they were shown a PowerPoint presentation of the teachers’ choice of poems and led in a brief discussion. In total, some 45 poems were picked by 34 teachers.

Here is a selection:

  • Grounded, by Anthony Anaxagorou: chosen by Headmaster Neil Enright
  • Poem 85 (ōdi et amō), by Catullus: chosen by Mr Hyland
  • The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost: chosen by Technology teacher Sean Kelly
  • Home by Warsan Shire: chosen by Deputy Head (Academic) Anne Macdonald
  • First They Came, by Martin Niemöller: chosen by History teacher Akhil Gohil
  • Errinerung an die Marie A., by Bertolt Brecht: chosen by Languages teacher Rebecca Grundy
  • Ozymandias, by Shelley: chosen by Head of Library Services Surya Bowyer
  • He is blessed as a god by Sappho: chosen by Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement) Crispin Bonham-Carter

The top photos show Year 8’s Pranav Challa and William Fawcett asking History teacher Simon Walker and Geography teacher Helen Davies about their choices of poem – T S Eliot’s Macavity: the Mystery Cat and Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky respectively – with Mr Hyland also joining them for the chat.

The full selection of the teachers’ chosen poems has been added to the School’s eQE digital learning platform, where there is also a National Poetry Day resource to encourage further exploration of poetry.