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Pupils to be encouraged to memorise the war poets

Teenagers taking part in this year’s Poetry by Heart competition will be challenged to memorise a World War I poem to mark the upcoming centenary.

Work by the likes of Wilfred Owen (pictured) and Seigfried Sassoon will be in addition to two works from the main competition anthology.

Poets Sir Andrew Motion and Jean Sprackland have put together both the main anthology of 200 poems and the additional war-themed anthology, which will be published later this month.

Rupert Brooke’s The Soldier, Philip Larkin’s MCMXIV and Mick Imlah’s London Scottish 1914 will be among the 40 poems in the additional anthology.

Mike Dixon, of Poetry by Heart, said: “The World War I anthology includes some traditional classic World War I poems but also one or two poets who came later and wrote about the war and some poems about the home front.

"The recitation of poetry has a checkered past. But in launching Poetry by Heart in 2013 we knew that there was a difference between learning a poem "by rote" and learning a poem "by heart". The response of pupils and teachers to the opportunity to engage with poetry in this way has been truly inspirational.”

Poetry by Heart was launched last year for students aged 14 to 18, when more than 750 schools registered and 30,500 people visited the website.

The most popular pre-1914 poem was Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias and the most popular post-1914 poem was Simon Armitage’s The Shout.

The government gave £500,000  to the Poetry Archive  to set up the competition which was co-founded by Sir Andrew, the former poet laureate, and Julia Blake, education director of the Poetry Archive.

In the first round of in-school competitions, each student involved must recite two poems, one published before 1914 and one in or after 1914.

For the county contests, regional and national contests, students must also learn a poem from the World War I collection.

Schools which want to take part this year need to register on the website.

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