Monkton Combe Senior School, Bath, wins the Poet Laureate’s Anthologise national poetry competition 

Pupils from Monkton Combe Senior School, Bath, have won Anthologise, the national poetry anthology competition for secondary schools spearheaded by Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.

The winning entry, entitled The Poetry of Earth is Never Dead, is on the theme of nature and the environment.  The students chose a wide range of poems by poets including John Keats, John Clare, Jo Shapcott, Seamus Heaney and Benjamin Zephaniah. Poetry from as far afield as China and as ancient as Virgil’s Gathering the Honey will also appear in the anthology. 

First prize is publication of the anthology by leading poetry publisher, Picador, in 2013. Carol Ann Duffy will also visit Monkton Combe Senior School next spring to congratulate them in person. 

Lynne Webb, librarian, and Jane Hildreth, teacher at Monkton Combe Senior School, comment,

‘Nurturing the enjoyment and love of poetry is often overlooked in schools because of academic pressures. The Anthologise competition was an excellent way to encourage children to appreciate the beauty and poignancy of poetry. The children all found the project immensely enjoyable.’

The Cherwell School, Oxford was very highly commended for The Evolving Muse, which includes poems on the theme of inspiration. The school was also highly commended for COGS: The Body in Fifty Poems, a collection of poetry inspired by the human body.  

Teacher, Matt Gray, says,

‘The kids have loved being involved in the competition and I was impressed by the warm response from the Poet Laureate. She really showed familiarity and engagement with the young people.’

Pakefield High, Lowestoft was commended for its entry, Pakefield's Pot of Powerful Poems, a collection of pupils’ favourite poems. 

Linda Spendlove from Pakefield High, adds, 

‘Our students gained a great deal of knowledge about the publishing world by taking part in Anthologise.  Their brief was to choose a poem they really loved and could possibly use for Slam Poetry in the autumn term. The competition inspired a summer of reading and writing poetry, with 30 students having poems accepted for publishing themselves.’

The competition is spearheaded by Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and administered by the Poetry Book Society. It was launched by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall in September 2011, when she invited school students aged 11-18 to create their own anthologies of poetry.

The Anthologise judges were Carol Ann Duffy; National Poet for Wales, Gillian Clarke; poet John Agard; poet Grace Nichols; and Cambridge Professor of Children’s Poetry, Morag Styles. 

Carol Ann Duffy, commenting on the winning entry, says, 

The Poetry of Earth is Never Dead is as assured and accomplished as any anthology currently on the bookshelves.’ 

On the shortlist, she adds,

‘We were hugely impressed by the flair and depth of reading evident in the shortlisted entries.’ 

More information about the competition can be found at:

For more information please contact Lorraine McGee or Liz Sich at Four Colman Getty on [email protected]/ 020 3023 9926 or [email protected]/ 020 3023 9040


Notes to Editors 


Anthologise is a Laureate Education project spearheaded by Carol Ann Duffy and administered by the Poetry Book Society. It is supported by Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, and Waterstones. Partners are: Bath Festivals, Manchester Children’s Book Festival, Manchester Metropolitan University, Homerton College University of Cambridge, Saison Poetry Library, The Scottish Poetry Library, and Literature Wales. 


Monkton Combe School’s anthology, The Poetry of Earth is Never Dead


Appreciation of Nature

On the Grasshopper and Cricket,   John Keats

Through That Door,     John Cotton

My Idle Dreams Roam Far,    Li Yu (Chinese)

The Praise of Spring,  Gonzalo de Berceo

Earth Songs,      John Clarke

The Earth and The People,    Traditional (Inuit)

Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now,    A.E. Housman

Sonnet,      John Clare

The Negro Speaks of Rivers,    Langston Hughes

Earth Cries,      Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze

Moss-Gathering,     Theodore Roethke


Cycle of Nature

An Alphabet for the Planet,    Riad Nourallah

Death of a Naturalist,    Seamus Heaney

Place,       W.S. Merwin

The River in March,     Ted Hughes

A Beetle Called Derek,    Benjamin Zephaniah 

Nature,      Loriah Leah 


Human Ecology

Cultivators,      Susan Taylor

The Shepherd,     William Blake

The Case,      Kathleen Jamie

The Magnificent Bull,     Dinka Tribe

Close to Nature,     Nnamdi Ben Nneji

Inside my Zulu Hut,     Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali

I Tell the Bees,      Jo Shapcott

Gathering the Honey,    Virgil



Nothing Gold Can Stay,    Robert Frost

Report to Wordsworth,    Boey Kim Cheng

Lily of the Valley,     Alice Oswald

Trailing Arbutus,     Gloria Sarasin

Endangered Species,    David Constantine

The Flower-Fed Buffaloes,    Vachel Lindsay

Pheasant,      Sylvia Plath

Almanac,      Primo Levi

Estuary,      Ian Hamilton Finlay

Harvest Hymn,     John Betjeman

The Recital of Lost Cities,    Lavinia Greenlaw

The Woman in the Moon,    Carol Ann Duffy 



The Trees,      Philip Larkin

The Eclipse,      Richard Eberhart

The Cloud,      Percy Bysshe Shelley

Si Dieu N’existait Pas,     John Burnside

Heavenly Grass,     Tennessee Williams

I’m Alive, I Believe in Everything,   Lesley Choyce

Tomorrow’s Child,      Glenn Thomas

A Light Exists in Spring,    Emily Dickinson 



Shortlisted Schools

The Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy would like to congratulate the following schools who have been shortlisted for the Anthologise Poetry Competition:

Monkton Combe Senior School, Bath

The Poetry of Earth is Never Dead


Chesterton Community College, Cambridge

A Journey Through Life


Pakefield High, Lowestoft

Pakefield's Pot of Powerful Poems


The Chase School, Malvern

Arrivals and Departures


Alexandra Park School, Haringey

Lines of Life


The Cherwell School, Oxford

COGS: The Body in Fifty Poems

The Evolving Muse


Judges’ comments on the Anthologise shortlist

The judges were unanimous in their admiration of the shortlist of 7 anthologies.

The anthologies  contained a wonderful variety of poetry in terms of theme, form and language and each anthology had its own voice with the poems speaking to each other.

The judges were struck by how much contemporary poetry and native voices were included in the anthologies.  They were impressed by the careful research pupils demonstrated in finding poems, their sources and costings for permissions.  There were surprising choices and positioning of poems within the anthology.

Too many anthologies are created by feeding from other anthologies, and it is always obvious.

These anthologies were not formed from the cannibalisation of other anthologies, they were the result of wide reading, study of single poet collections and bore the mark of fantastic teacher/pupil relationships.  Unless we have good teachers who are interested in poetry in all its forms, cultures and times, we cannot have good readers of poetry.

Each anthology on the shortlist shows the culture of the school, the community, the family.  These young editors have lived inside their chosen poems.  Poems that express grief, sorrow, joy, love, concern and passion.  They also show a strong relationship with the landscape of life.

The pupils have understood that the poet speaks for them.

Carol Ann Duffy

July 2012