Verbal feast: George the Poet at QE luncheon
March 23, 2016
March 23, 2016
George Mpanga – aka George the Poet – returned to QE to speak to Sixth-Formers and Year 9 after enjoying a year of success and fame.
During the course of 2015, George (OE 2002–2009), whose work focuses on social and political issues, was described as “the hottest name in the spoken word” when he appeared at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. His first poetry collection, Search Party, was published early in the year and he performed before a truly global audience in the autumn when he appeared during the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup.
Yet when he came to QE as the guest speaker at this term’s formal Year 12 luncheon, he resisted any temptation to bask in his own success. Instead, he impressed on his audience the importance of education and initiative, while also reflecting on the positive effect his alma mater had had in developing his critical awareness.
George gained A grades in English Literature, Sociology and Politics A-levels in 2009 and then took up a place at King’s College, Cambridge, to read Politics, Psychology and Sociology (PPS). He has since enjoyed considerable media interest and achieved critical acclaim, including 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.
For the luncheon in the Main Hall, he treated the Year 12 boys to a rousing address on the universal benefits of creativity and enterprise.
Current Year 12 boy Christopher Deane reports: “When asked whether he had any regrets, George's astute response was 'a mistake is not a lesson, unless you learn from it'. In a sense, this sentiment was the abiding message of his speech.
“In a world replete with diversions and adversity, creativity is one's greatest asset, which as young people we should strive to cultivate in order that we might fulfil our potential and leave our own indelible fingerprint on society.”
During his visit, George also gave a poetry workshop to the whole of Year 9 in the Shearly Hall.