The Lightbox Director, Marilyn Scott, writes about what she has been up to.

On Monday night I was at Woking Library judging the Poetry By Heart competition. This was the Surrey Finals of a nationwide competition and the winner goes forward to the national finals. Andrew Motion, who was Poet Laureate from 1999 – 2009, is the champion for the competition which aims to engage young people with poetry and the spoken word. I was amazed at how challenging the competition is as young people 15-18 have to learn three poems by heart and recite them in front of an invited audience and the judges. The poems have to be selected from pre 1914, post 1914 and this year, a category of First World War poetry. The challenge is – understanding the poem in the first place as candidates are marked on how well they understand the work, learning it and then delivering it articulately and confidently. I was full of admiration for these young people who performed incredibly well. Some of the poems were very difficult – work by John Clare and William Blake and the beautiful Rupert Brooke poem The Soldier which was a fitting finale to the whole evening. It was so pleasing to see that poetry is still alive and well in our secondary schools and that live performance can still be so enjoyable for a wide audience. I was really pleased to have been able to indulge my own love of poetry by spending an evening listening to it and congratulate Woking Library on organising such a great event.

Find out more about Poetry By Heart.

Image credit: Ian Rudgewick Brown