So excited was I by the prospect of judging the Ryedale Book Festival P-Factor Grand Final this year that I penned a poem. But I only penned it a couple of days before the event. Did I have time to learn it? Did I have the nerve to perform it at the event itself?
As the poem aimed to inspire the children to give the very best of themselves in their performances that afternoon, I decided to take my courage into my hands and give it a go. Here’s the result:
The results that really counted that day, of course, were those of the P-Factor competition itself. Schools from around Ryedale came to Malton to perform the poems they’d learned in front of a panel of three judges – poets Mandy Coe, Catherine Boddy and me (all of whom had performed for the children in the morning).
I knew from the last time I’d judged the competition (back in 2015, along with John Hegley, P-Factor founder Andy Seed and Steven Nash) that I was in for a treat! And this year’s contestants did not disappoint.
The props this year included a real live chocolate cake, which a child proceeded to consume in front of our very eyes as part of his rendition of Michael Rosen’s ‘Chocolate Cake’ poem!
Over the course of the afternoon children performed a wide variety of poems. They rapped, they made us laugh, they brought a tear to our eyes. They all brought poetry to life.
We judges were only supposed to come up with one winner and one runner-up. But the three girls from Kirkbymoorside Primary School were so good that we had to invent a special ‘Highly Commended’ prize category just for them!
The Runners-up of this year’s competition were … the team from Wellburn Hall School with their fabulous rendition of an Anansi Spider poem:
And the winners were … the Langton Primary School team, with their faultless performance of Michael Rosen’s ‘Strict’ poem!
This is such an inspiring event. An entire auditorium full of children cheering about, and performing, poetry – for a whole day. Whoof! And the competition gets live-streamed back to all the schools involved!
Hats off to Karen Saunders and Sarah Tyson of Ryedale Book Festival for all they do to make this event happen. And to all the other Festival volunteers and tech people who made this year’s event go so well. Massive thanks too to the teachers and pupils of all the schools involved, for the time, energy and creativity you put into the competition.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!