Poetry by Heart


Are you tired of feeling your heart race every time you have to speak in front of your class? Try Poetry by Heart. It is a national competition that encourages 14 to 18 year olds to step in front of an audience and recite an English poem.
The competitions take place in England and France. This article will examine more specifically the competition that takes place in Paris.

Each year on the 18th of March, the Poetry By Heart competition takes place at the bilingual school Jeannine Manuel. Students of bilingual schools across France are invited to participate in the competition, Institut de La Tour is one of them.

The contestants have to choose two poems; one before 1914, and one after 1914. The list of poems to choose is on the site of Poetry by Heart. This year at La Tour, two students made it to the Jeannine Manuel Competition: Elea Werner in 2nde and Athénaïs de Polignac in 3ème. I interviewed Elea to know more about her experience:

Interviewer: How was your experience with the competition?

Elea: It was really nice. At first it was annoying to have to go to the rehearsal with Mrs. Chantrelle because I couldn’t be with my friends. Tough, but after a while I got the hang of it and it was actually pretty helpful, there was this nice atmosphere.

Interviewer: What do you think of public speaking now?

Elea: I never really had a problem with it, but I would say it can only help you because you are in front of people that you do not know, that are your age. You also are in front of unknown teachers; it really helps you to get confident in front of many people. It can only be positive.

Interviewer: Would you do it again?

Elea: I don’t know, maybe. (laughs) I’ll think about it. I did not win, so I think that the first time it’s the test time so you can really get the hang of it and see how everything goes. What’s important is to see how the winners won and get the idea.


Thanks to this competition, you are able to step in front of at least 50 students of your age and recite English poetry. Winning really is not the objective. Just the fact of having the courage to stand in front of all these strangers, when you know that your parents or grandparents are looking at you from the back of room, and recite a memorized poem with no notes is a big achievement. Every contestant should be proud for that.

Speaking in front of your class will now seem like a piece of cake.



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