Christ’s Hospital’s Poetry by Heart champion reaches national finals

Kwabena 'Kobby' Adi, who won Christ's Hospital's inaugural 'Poetry By Heart' competition, reaches national finals. Picture by Toby Phillips
Kwabena 'Kobby' Adi, who won Christ's Hospital's inaugural 'Poetry By Heart' competition, reaches national finals. Picture by Toby Phillips

Kwabena ‘Kobby’ Adi, who won Christ’s Hospital’s inaugural ‘Poetry By Heart’ competition before Christmas, has now triumphed in the Sussex round of the competition held on 29 January and won a place in the prestigious national finals weekend in March.

Inspired by the former poet laureate Andrew Motion, the Poetry By Heart initiative is designed to revive the memorising of the most beautiful writing in the language ‘in an age in which we have started outsourcing memory to computers.’

Kobby, aged 18, a pupil at Christ’s Hospital School near Horsham had to prepare and perform from memory three poems – one from pre-1914, one more modern, and one from a special selection of First World War poetry – to a packed house. The organizers emphasise that pupils have to learn ‘by heart and not by rote’ and in this regard Kobby excelled, giving brilliant performances of poems by Cavafy, Jacob Sam La Rose and Michael Longley.

Kobby’s performing has been encouraged in the student-run ‘Spoken Word’ group which he formed along with Leeza Awojobi, a fellow Sixth Former. However this year is CH’s first entry into the national competition, and the English Department has been busily introducing new initiatives designed to revive the learning of poetry.

Kobby came up against students from all over Sussex in the local final, held in Crawley Library. In a high quality contest Kobby edged out pupils from Shoreham, Angmering and Crawley to win his place at the finals weekend to be held at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 13-15 March.

Report contributed by Christ’s Hospital. Picture by Toby Phillips.