Literary masterclass is pure poetry for sixth formers

The latest Literature masterclass went live as Sydenham High conducted its first conference via Skype, to speak with the poet Andy Hopkins about his anthology Dark Horse Pictures.

The A Level English class explored Hopkins’ work, focusing on one of three selected poems, ‘Dark Horse Pictures’, ‘Levee/Burgh-by-Sands’, and ‘Prefrogs/Unfrogs’. Analytical skills were certainly tested by the complex imagery and philosophical nature of these texts, and gave some insight into the challenging nature of contemporary poetry.

Next, students were afforded the rare opportunity to question the writer himself, as Andy Hopkins appeared live on-screen via Skype from Cumbria. Hopkins listened to the spirited discussion and appreciated the varied interpretations of his work. He then took time to discuss style and stimulus with his audience –  even offereing a few tips to the budding writers amongst the sixth formers.


"I learnt more about how form helps to shape a poem’s meaning and I will keep the advice in mind, especially in the upcoming exams”

— Abigail Heal, year 13

The seminar provided essential tips for looking at poetry for pleasure or work. Abigail Heal, one of the English prefects, commented that she had learnt more about how form helps to shape a poem’s meaning, and is confident that she “will keep the advice from Andy in mind, especially in the upcoming exams”.

English masterclasses run each half term with a focus on enrichment. These university-style seminars supplement the department’s fortnightly Literary Society, and expose students to a literary world beyond the A Level and GCSE syllabus. This term alone has featured lectures on Aristotle’s Poetics, the American literary canon, and the work of Robert Browning. Literary Society is open to students from years 10 to 13 and runs every other Monday in the Lecture Theatre.

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