Thursday 2nd October has to be one of my favourite days of 2014.
Kate and I travelled to London together, where we met with the families of two of our students, Jasmine and Helen.
Jasmine was one of the 15 'super winners' of the Foyle Young Poet of the Year competition, whilst Helen was highly commended, along with another student, Emee. Elsewhere, both Helen and Jasmine were finalists for the John Betjeman Poetry Competition for Young People; a competition in which Jasmine had been a finalist in 2013 as well!
We started our day at Royal Festival Hall, where a variety of celebratory events were taking place for National Poetry Day. On the fifth floor, the one hundred commended poets and winners of the Foyle met and shared their success. Grace Nichols and Simon Barraclough had done an incredible job of selecting the best poems from over 13,000 entries, and we were privileged to hear the best fifteen read aloud. There was a great variety, including comedy, philosophy and epic descriptions. Hearing poetry read aloud by the individual who wrote it adds meaning to the work, and even the youngest of the winners read with confidence and fluency.
I was also honoured to be recognised by the Poetry Society as a Teacher Trailblazer. It is no secret that I simply love my work.
From the Southbank, we traveled north, up to St Pancras, where the prize ceremony for the Betjeman competition takes place. It shows the brilliance of the young writers at Oxford Spires that Helen and Jasmine had two different poems shortlisted in two different competitions.
Alongside a statue of John Betjeman, Helen and Jasmine read their poems, along with the third finalist, Noah Bodley Scott. We were so proud when Helen was announced as the winner - her poem is complex and sharp, especially for a thirteen year old!
On my journey home at the end of National Poetry Day, I felt infected with love for the written word, so was relieved to have so many poetry books to entertain me.