Poetry By Heart is a pioneering national competition designed to encourage young people aged 14-18 at school and college in England to learn and to recite poems by heart. Not in an arm-waving, props-supported thespian extravaganza, but as the outward and audible manifestation of an inwardly-understood and enjoyed poem.
Poetry By Heart successfully engages young people from diverse social backgrounds and all types of school in personal discovery of the pleasures of poetry. Each pupil is challenged to memorise and recite two poems – one published before 1914 and one in or after 1914. Pupils choose these from the timeline anthology of over 600 years of poetry on this website. In 2015, at county level and beyond, contestants will recite a third poem from a special collection of World War 1 poems as part of the centenary commemorations.
The competition is a pyramid of participation from individual classrooms to whole school/college contests, then county contests, regional semi-finals and the grand final, to be held at Homerton College, Cambridge, London, in March 2015. In the process, pupils foster deep personal connections with the poems chosen and bring poetry alive for their friends, families and communities.