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Poems By Heart: A Hearty Success!

Written by The Reader, 9th October 2012

Last Thursday, which was National Poetry Day, saw a very special event take place in aid of The Reader Organisation's Apprenticeship For Life Programme.

Poems By Heart saw a number of poetry enthusiasts gather under the stars in London to recite poems they had spent weeks learning by heart to a captive audience. We're very pleased to report that the evening was a great success, with a variety of great words being read from memory and a great chunk of money being raised to help support a young care-leaver. Brilliant stuff all round.

A first-hand report on the event comes from Get Into Reading London Project Worker Megg Hewlett, who was one of the brave souls taking part on the night:

We did it! And it went amazingly well. About 42 people squeezed into a small space in the old ruined Abney Cemetary Chapel to hear 13 people recite poems. Except for a few battery operated fairy lights we were in complete darkness. And really, it was very special.

The seating was arranged so we were all looking into the chapel and up at what is the rose window - but with no glass. Even though it was dark it was possible to see that it was a window as it was ever so slightly lighter outside than in.

The autumnal weather was relatively mild given what October might have thrown our way. It could have been freezing and wet but, while not exactly warm, we were very fortunate with what we ended up with, cloudy skies, no rain and minimal wind. The audience was well wrapped and settled in to listen.

Steve Wasserman, supporter of The Reader Organisation, volunteer and the person whose idea it was to organise this Poems By Heart event acted as MC for the evening, seamlessly segueing from one poem to the next.

The programme looked something like this;

  • The Inferno, Canto 1 (Dante Alghieri) - Recited by Megg Hewlett
  • Aubade (Philip Larkin) - Recited by Paul Higgins
  • Phenomenal Woman (Maya Angelou) - Recited by Joss Rossiter
  • Indoor Games near Newbury (John Betjeman) - Recited by Richard Henry
  • What The Doctor Said (Raymond Carver) - Recited by Nick Pole
  • A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford (Derek Mahon) - Recited by Kevin Porter
  • Kubla Kahn (Samuel Taylor Coleridge) - Recited by Katy Darby
  • Autumn’s song (Paul Verlaine) - Recited by Anouche Sherman
  • I Have Wasted The Day (Felix Dennis) - Recited by Gloria Sanders
  • Let Go of Your Worries (Rumi) - Recited by Gabriella Apicella
  • He Wishes For The Cloths of Heaven (Yeats) - Recited by Rogan Wolf
  • A Little Argument With Myself (Parker/Sparhawk/Shakespeare) - Recited by Steve Wasserman

Another Reader Organisation supporter Shaun Levin was on hand to give each audience member one of his Writing Maps as they left (they're available here). Shaun is donating a portion of the income from the maps to The Reader Organisation's Apprenticeship Programme. Very generous!

A number of people commented afterwards about how exciting it felt; the uniqueness of the evening accentuating the uniqueness of the venue and vice-versa, with lots of requests for more.

We are already hearing murmurs of another Poems by Heart evening - so watch this space...

It looks like we will have raised close to £400 for the next Care Leaver Apprentice; thank you to all those who supported us, much appreciated!


You can make a celebratory contribution to the By-Hearters' efforts, and help make a difference to a care leaver's life, by donating on the Poems By Heart Charity Giving page.

From all of us at The Reader Organisation, a big round of applause and pat on the back to all those involved - you are our Stars!

3 thoughts on “Poems By Heart: A Hearty Success!

Shaun Levin says:

It was indeed a special event and great to be part of it – one of the few living souls in the wilds of the cemetery after dark. And thanks for mentioning the Writing Maps 🙂

[…] doing everything from taking on the unenviable task of tackling the Three Peaks Challenge, reciting Poetry By Heart, raffling, bag-packing at Tesco and pulling on our running shoes and Father Christmas outfits for […]

[…] sales, the Santa Dash 2012, busking literature, literary half marathons, numerous raffles and a Poetry by Heart event in London have ensured that we can provide our new Apprentice with the opportunity to work […]

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