Waterlooville pupil finishes second in poetry contest

From left: chairwoman of judges Vanessa Chapman,  Poetry By Heart County Final Organiser Ramnika Sharma, prompt and accuracy judge Deputy Mayor of Havant Faith Ponsonby, and  poets Joshua Idehen and Dzifa Benson
From left: chairwoman of judges Vanessa Chapman, Poetry By Heart County Final Organiser Ramnika Sharma, prompt and accuracy judge Deputy Mayor of Havant Faith Ponsonby, and poets Joshua Idehen and Dzifa Benson
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A pupil from a Waterlooville school has won a runner-up prize in the national Poetry by Heart competition.

Khadayja Datoo, 18, was a runner-up in the competition with her performances of Chiddock Titchborne’s Elegy and Carol Ruman’s The Emigree.

She said: ‘It came as an overwhelming surprise when my name was announced as the runner-up.

‘In addition, I cannot thank Miss Sharma enough for coaching me and giving me so much of her time alongside organising the wonderful event that ran so smoothly. If I could compete again, I definitely would.’

The southern regional final was hosted by Oaklands Catholic School and Sixth Form College where Khadayja is enrolled.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight county organiser, Ramnika Sharma, described the event as ‘tense and nerve-racking.’

She said: ‘Every single portrayal was outstanding. They were incredibly moving and clearly put much time and effort into taking their poems to their hearts.

‘A huge well done to everyone who took part.’

More than 50 people were in attendance at the competition. Havant deputy mayor Faith Ponsonby, and Poetry Space founder Sue Sims, judged the contest alongside Joshua Idehen, Vanessa Chapman and Dzisa Benson.

Oaklands headteacher Matthew Quinn said: ‘Standing up and reading poetry to your peer group is one thing.

‘Learning the poetry by heart, and then reciting it to a panel of judges is in a league of its own; well done to all the students.’

The overall winner, Joe Samria, 17, of Peter Symonds College in Winchester, will go on to the national finals at Cambridge University’s Homerton College later this month.

Poetry at Heart is a national poetry memorisation and reciting competition with regional events taking place across the UK.

Pupils choose one pre-1914 poem and one poem from or after 1914 to memorise and perform to audiences. They are then judged on their voice, understanding and performance of their poems.