Bringing GCSE Poetry to Life

Our Upper Fifth headed to Oxford Playhouse to see ‘Poetry Live!’

25 January 2024

The Upper Fifth (Year 11) were delighted to take part in our annual Poetry Live trip to Oxford Playhouse.

This trip is a fantastic opportunity for the pupils to hear the poems they study in class performed aloud by the poets themselves. The atmosphere of the recitals paired with the insightful tips shared by the poets, grant our pupils a unique perspective which improves their interpretation of the GCSE poetry anthology.

Read on to hear from Upper Fifth (Year 11) pupils, Rose and Sage, on their experience of the event.


On Wednesday 24 January, I was fortunate enough to be taken to the GCSE Poetry Live show in Oxford. It was a wonderful and fulfilling day where I got to hear poems from the likes of Carol Ann Duffy and Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.

My highlight was hearing John Agard reading ‘Checking Out Me History’, which I found very moving and engaging as he read it with such passion in his voice. I also particularly enjoyed hearing Daljit Nagra reading ‘Singh Song!’, as I am studying this for my GCSEs and I found it useful to hear it being read by the poet himself. This helped me gain a greater understanding of the meaning behind the poem and appreciate the humour.

It was certainly beneficial towards my studies, as we had examiners’ sessions, where we would be guided through how to answer particular questions that would come up in our exam. Overall, I found the day extremely rewarding.


The day kicked off with a session led by the Head Examiner, providing valuable advice on how to tackle the exam questions on unseen poetry. He gave top tips, such as exploring the tones when examining methods employed by the poets, which I had barely considered before.

We were then fortunate enough to see the country’s most notable poets, including the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Daljit Nagra, Imtiaz Dharker, Owen Sheers, and John Agard. Hearing insights from the poets themselves into the process of poetry writing and where they source inspiration was particularly inspiring. I especially liked learning about how Imtiaz Dharker’s multi-cultural background – Pakistani-born but grew up in Glasgow before moving to Mumbai – influenced her works later in life.

Overall, it was a rewarding experience to gain further understanding of our set poems and to immerse oneself in hearing poetry performed live.


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