Poetry by Heart Judges Spellbound by Jasmine D.


Over the last year, a group of dedicated students has been learning, practising and preparing poems to take part in the national competition Poetry by Heart. Led by Miss. Byrne, they have chosen challenging and inspirational pieces from across the canon of English Literature. Competitors have to recite the poem by heart, adding appropriate expression and emphasis to make it a captivating performance. 

After weeks of preparation, we are thrilled to have a winner in our school – Jasmine D. in the First Form has been confirmed as the country winner for Surrey! Jasmine said she was shocked to have won and received the news from her mum during an online Maths lesson. 

Jasmine took on the considerable feat of learning both poems by using a range of strategies. She worked with her mum, rehearsing how to deliver the poems by heart and emphasise the key parts for the best effect. 


Jasmine’s top tips for memorising a poem: 

Work with someone.  

Perform in front of the mirror to help your expression. 

Choose poems that you enjoy – her two were a huge contrast. 

If you have a long bus journey each day, use it to read the poems and then challenge yourself to repeat them later in the day. 

Don’t be downhearted and keep do keep trying – what’s easy one day can seem like it’s been forgotten the next. 


The judges were effervescent in their praise for Jasmine: 

They said her performance of ‘Spellbound’ by Emily Brontë was a clear and confident performance that engaged fully with the words of the poem. During her second poem, ‘I Would Like to be a Dot in a Painting by Miró’ by Moniza Alvi, the judges were impressed by the focused energy of her performance and Jasmine’s very good understanding of the poem. 

Jasmine chose these poems as they were such a contrasting pair. “‘Spellbound’ by Brontë makes you feel like you are there, while ‘I Would Like to be a Dot in a Painting by Miró’ made me laugh. It was fun to add the expressions.” 

This competition takes real commitment and we are all impressed by Jasmine’s approach to such a challenge! Poetry by Heart is due to run again in the 2020/21 academic year and more information can be found here: https://www.poetrybyheart.org.uk/ 


The poems chosen by Jasmine were: 

I Would Like to be a Dot in a Painting by Miró (1993) Moniza Alvi 

Barely distinguishable from other dots,
it’s true, but quite uniquely placed.
And from my dark centre 

I’d survey the beauty of the linescape
and wonder — would it be worthwhile
to roll myself towards the lemon stripe, 

Centrally poised, and push my curves
against its edge, to give myself
a little attention? 

But it’s fine where I am.
I’ll never make out what’s going on
around me, and that’s the joy of it. 

The fact that I’m not a perfect circle
makes me more interesting in this world.
People will stare forever — 

Even the most unemotional get excited.
So here I am, on the edge of animation,
a dream, a dance,a fantastic construction, 

A child’s adventure.
And nothing in this tawny sky
can get too close, or move too far away. 


Spellbound (1837) Emily Brontë 

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go. 

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go. 

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go. 

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