This week, we held the final of our four sessions of the T S Eliot Poetry Prize Symposia with our partner school, Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet.
The NLCS English Department has been running this series of Year 11 symposia for over ten years now, and it was particularly good to be joined by two Old North Londoners (ONLs) who are now embarking on their teaching careers at Queen Elizabeth’s. As usual, the focus of each session was to discuss the work of the finalists of this prestigious national prize which will be announced in January 2022, and thus, to read widely from books published this year from a group of 10 contemporary poets. Unable to meet in person again this year unfortunately, in their persuasive and engaging contributions, the students from both schools ably demonstrated the skills they have carefully honed through the pandemic from the experience of online learning. Generously chaired by Year 12 students from both schools, the students formed two groups to explore the work of a rich panoply of contemporary voices on topics ranging from the elderly and health care (Selima Hill), mental health (Victoria Kennefick), sexual identity (Joelle Taylor), care in the community (Michael Simmons Roberts), colonialism and slavery (Kevin Young), and the continuing AIDS epidemic in Africa (Kayo Chingonyi). By the fourth and final session, it was clear that all the students had grown immensely in expertise in talking about poetry and the Humanities.
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all those involved not only for their commitment to the events, but also for generating such intellectual passion and insight.
Dr Ruth McLoughlin, Teacher of English and NLCS Partnerships Co-ordinator