FCBG Vice Chair, Chris Routh reports on the Poetry Award ceremony which she attended with FCBG Chair, Jane Etheridge on 13th July 2016 at the Dorfman Theatre, National Theatre, London.
The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education Poetry Award (CLiPPA) ceremony is a real joy because it celebrates poetry for young people, but even more importantly, because it is a child centred event. The Shadowing Scheme involves writing and performing poetry – and no less than 65 schools submitted films in a bid to perform at the Poetry Show held at the National Theatre this week. Congratulations to the five lucky schools who won the privilege to perform a poem on the stage of the Dorfman Theatre, each representing one of the shortlisted anthologies. Their performances were a tour de force of how to engage young readers with rhythm and rhyme, the variety and power of language and the ideas and stories conveyed by poetry.
The programme started with The Gattons Infant School Reception class who emulated Michael Rosen’s ‘Bendy Man’ with lovely wavy arms and bodies, moving in time to the words. Introduced by last year’s winner, Joe Coelho, A Great Big Cuddle, is a collection which is ideal for engaging the very young with the playful nature of poetry and enhanced with illustrations by the current Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell. Michael Rosen also read ‘Oh Dear’, which we all happily joined in with.
This was followed by four Year 5 boys from Merton Park Primary School, who performed ‘Carnival Dance Lesson’ from Dancing in the Rain by John Lyons. The boys had no inhibitions about performing with great enthusiasm and energy. John Lyons also recited ‘Carnival Jumbie’ from his collection which celebrates customs, traditions and folk lore from the Caribbean.
We were then treated to a truly dramatic performance of ‘Furies’ by a group of Year 6 pupils from Springfield Primary School. This was one of the poems from Falling Out of the Sky, Poems about Myths and Monsters edited by Rachel Piercy and Emma Wright. Emma also read the stirring poem ‘To Asgard!’, while Chris Riddell, who was live drawing throughout the show, produced a beautiful portrait of one of the Norse goddesses, Freya.
Two Year 5 girls from Highfield Primary School then gave an amazingly mature and moving performance of ‘Maternal Impressions’ from Sarah Crossan’s Carnegie Award winning One. The girls sat closely side-by-side as if conjoined, like the sisters in the story, to recite a challenging piece, demonstrating a level of understanding and ability beyond their years. Sarah also read ‘Eyes’ from her powerful verse novel.
The final performance of the poem ‘Poetry Pie’ by Roger McGough, was delivered with exuberant choral work and choreography by a group from all Saints Primary School. Sadly, Roger McGough was not able to attend, but a film of him reading ‘Nightmares’ from the Poetry Pie anthology made a great finale to the show.
The afternoon concluded with the announcement of the winners by the Chair of Judges, poet John Hegley, who also delighted the audience with his performances. For the first time in its 13 years, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education Poetry Award was awarded to two winners – Sarah Crossan and Michael Rosen with Chris Riddell – underlining the relevance and importance of poetry (writing, reading, listening to and performing) for all ages.
The event also saw the official launch of National Poetry Day, which this year takes place on 6th October 2016. This year’s theme is Messages. For poems, ideas, activities and downloadable images visit: www.forwardartsfoundation.org