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The Poetry Challenge 2016

  • Sutton House Homerton High Street London, England, E9 United Kingdom (map)
The Poetry Challenge

Josefine Speyer and Claudia Boulton present The Poetry Challenge 2016 in the Wenlock Barn of the National Trust's Sutton House.

Spend a Sunday afternoon drinking tea, eating cake and enjoying poetry.  You can recite a poem to raise money for a charity of your choice or just come along to enjoy the afternoon.

All ages welcome.  Singers and musicians are also encouraged to take part.  Sutton House's Steinway Grand Piano will be available for participants to play!  You can also see the Life. Death. Whatever. exhibition which will be taking place throughout Sutton House.

Free admission.  No need to book.

The event is run by volunteers for the joy of keeping the annual Poetry Challenge alive and to offer an alternative to sponsored 'sweat and muscle' events. 

There will be a Magic Hat collection throughout the afternoon in aid of the Natural Death Centre charity.

The Poetry Challenge was set up by Nicholas Albery in 1995 as an annual fund raising event, held on the first Sunday in October.

Nicholas was a social inventor, an activist, author and private poet, a founder of charities and editor over 50 books, including the best selling Poem for the Day Book. He learnt a poem every day. He was also an inspirer and mentor to children and adults, friends, family and fleeting acquaintances. He loved poetry and encouraged learning it by heart. 

The Poetry Challenge was the means by which he was able to raise funds for his charities and helping other people to do the same. The royalties of the Poem for the Day book support the Natural Death Centre, a charity he founded with his wife Josefine Speyer. Nicholas died in a car accident in 2001.

Since his death the Poetry Challenge continued to be held by the Nicholas Albery Foundation and the Natural Death Centre. In recent years Josefine, now a patron of the Natural Death Centre has teamed up with Cornelia Broesskamp and Claudia Bolton to support their prospective charities and to continue the tradition.

Find out more about the Poetry Challenge here.  

1. Choose a poem and learn it by heart. This can be any style of poem, including one you have written yourself, a rap, or a poem with a tune.

2. Download a sponsorship form from the Poetry Challenge website and collect sponsorship pledges.

3. Come to the event on the day and bring with you a copy of the poem you are reciting. A prompter will be there to assist you if you get stuck. Also bring your sponsorship form to show how much money you have raised.

4. On arrival fill in an entry form which will ask for the title of your poem, the name of the charity or project you are raising money for, and how much you have been pledged. Hand this form to the person who collects them to book your place in the running order.

5. The compere will call you to recite.

6. At the end of your recital you will be given a signed certificate to show you have successfully completed your recital.

7. Collect your sponsorship money and send it to the charity or project of your choice.

“The Poetry Challenge is a wonderful social invention and as a fundraiser for my charity very effective. People realise what a brave thing reciting from memory is, and sponsor generously!  But it works on more levels than that.  The whole convivial process of sharing wonderful (and also not-so-wonderful) poetry is very enriching and great fun.”

"I first did the Poetry Challenge when I was 8 years old. I tremendously enjoyed the whole experience. The atmosphere is incredibly friendly and I think it is a rewarding and important experience for young people.  Introducing them to the nuances of poetry (better understood, I believe, when recited from memory), inspiring confidence to speak in front of an audience and challenging their comfort zone in a relaxed and informal way.  I look forward to many, many more."

Earlier Event: September 28
Press Launch
Later Event: October 4
The Good Funeral Guild Launch Party