Poetry lovers rejoiced as some of the best loved poems in the country came to life at Dorset County Council’s chambers.
The event was part of the regional championship for the national ‘Poetry by Heart’ competition, designed to encourage young people to get passionate about poetry.
The seven finalists, aged between 14 and 18, had been selected from schools across Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole to compete for a place to represent Dorset in the national finals in March.
Each student had to recite three poems from ‘The Poetry By Heart’ anthology, one published before 1914, one published after 1914 and one from the World War 1 Showcase. The audience was treated to favourite poems including ‘Love’ by George Hebert and ‘The Soldier’ by Rupert Brooke.
Michelle Ezigbo, from Shaftesbury School impressed the judges enough to win the coveted first prize, and will now go on to represent Dorset in the finals which will be held at Homerton College, University of Cambridge.
Runner up was Jacob Hulland from Shaftesbury School.
The other competitors included: Joshua Tenn from Highcliffe School, Emily Pardey from Glenmoor School, Bethan Miller, Highcliffe School, Bethany Kingsbury, Glenmoor School and Lottie Hyde, Beaminster School.
The county final was hosted by Dorset Library Service and James Manlow, the Poet Laureate from Bournemouth.
Judges included the writer Katherine Locke, Alice Budden an apprentice with Dorset Library Service and Lyn Gaudreau Education Services, Senior Advisor with Dorset County Council.
Sharon Kirkpatrick, senior manager at Dorset County Council Library Service, said: “The students all recited their poems to a very high standard and it was an enjoyable afternoon.
“They were all worthy winners and the judges did not have an easy task selecting just one to represent Dorset at the Poetry By Heart national finals.
“We were honoured to have James Manlow reading his poetry and we also want to thank the judges for their tremendous input on the day.”
Cllr Toni Coombs, Cabinet member for children and young people at Dorset County Council, thanked Tim Shortis from Poetry By Heart, teachers and the library service for making the event such a success before she announced the winner. She said: “I am very impressed by the effort and hard work of all the contestants. They brought the poems to life in their own individual and talented ways”
“As well as promoting poetry as an art form, the competition also encourages students to develop self-confidence, and I am delighted that young people from schools across Dorset took part and hope that more schools will take part next year.”
“We all wish Michelle the best of luck in the national competition later this year.”