Top poet judges school competition

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AN AWARD winning poet was on hand to judge a year nine poetry competition at Christ’s Hospital School on Thursday.

Jo Shapcott, winner of the National Poetry Competition (1985 and 1991), was invited to judge the poetry competition, also giving a poetry reading to year 12 and 13 pupils.

Pupils were encouraged to write a poem about their favourite place in the school, with six short-listed for Jo to choose from.

Gianni Fortes, whose poem ‘The Library’ won the competition, said: “I was honoured to have been chosen by Jo Shapcott as the winner and I hope I can improve and be as good as her one day.”

He said he was surprised to be chosen, and thanked his friends and teachers for encouraging him.

“I wish poetry could be spread across communities so everyone can appreciate the benefit of poetry,” he said.

The poet read out each of the six finalists’ poems, picking out what she liked best about each.

Jo Shapcott’s latest collection, Of Mutability, won the 2010 Costa Book Award, and she received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in December. Previous recipients include Ted Hughes, John Betjeman and W.H. Auden.

THE LIBRARY

Enter the library and the world shrinks.

The outside is blind to its power.

Caged in one building knowledge unfurls.

Dancing in its halls is the music of silence.

Two hands, humble but eager,

Grasp a book, seeking words unknown in the outer world

And with swift movement turn pages,

Swarmed by curiosity and mystery.

The tired shelves, ragged with the wear of time,

Holding on their shoulders the strength of 10,000 men

Dignified and humble, stand, a waiting servant,

Fragments of fiction and history on their bare backs.

The clock chimes, reminding you of your time

Its noise subtle yet alarming

And every time you stop reading

All you hear is the inevitable tock tock tock

The air dampened by the sweat of discovery

Soothes the mind and aching soul

And as you leave this place of calm

The library dances, dances, dances on.

GIANNI FORTES