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Sir Andrew Motion launches poetry collection for schools

Former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion has compiled an anthology of verse specially designed for pupils to recite in school competitions.

The collection features more than 200 poems by writers including Chaucer, Keats and Wordsworth, as well as contemporary poets, including Benjamin Zephaniah, Simon Armitage and Sir Andrew’s successor as poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.

The Poetry at Heart anthology features the pool from which contestants choose to read aloud in the competition of the same name, now in its third year.

Students, from Years 10 to 13, recite poems from the selection in a series of county and regional heats before the national final, which takes places in March next year. Contestants this year will also be asked to choose from a collection of First World War poetry.

The anthology, chosen by Sir Andrew along with co-editors Jean Sprackland, Julie Blake and Mike Dixon, ranges from love poems to war poems, all chosen with a view to being spoken out loud.

“Poetry’s meaning has as much to do with sound as it does with sense,” Sir Andrew said. “It’s acoustic. It’s emotional noise. That is why it’s often able to move us before we completely understand it.”

The anthology will be published on National Poetry Day, on 2 October. Details of this year’s Poetry by Heart competition are available on

Last year’s competition was won by Matilda Neill, a student at Whitley Bay High School in North Tyneside, whose choice included The Way Through The Woods by Rudyard Kipling.

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