On June 27th 2014, two pupils from the North East travelled to a national celebration event at Manchester Metropolitan University to be crowned regional winners of this year’s Mother Tongue Other Tongue poetry competition.
The Mother Tongue category of the competition consisted of two parts, the first of which was the poem itself. This could be an original, creative piece, or a poem or song that is ‘remembered’ and could be in any language other than English. The second part comprised a short explanation of the inspiration behind the piece, where it comes from, or why it was important to the person submitting it, written in English.
The 2014 North East winner in the Mother Tongue category is 14 year old Vaibhav Tiwari of the Hermitage Academy in Chester le Street. He chose to write about his favourite Hindi poem ‘Wake Up Son’.
“The poem is really important to me because every day to wake me up in the morning my mother sings this song to me. This poem is a very beautiful poem and I love it because it has a melodic tune and has a really inspiring storyline… I have been hearing this poem since I was young and each time I hear it or read it my heart is filled with joy and I feel like I am wasting my time and should be up using it. So the moral of the poem is: ‘Don’t be lazy and waste your vital time, instead use your time wisely!’”
The Other Tongue category, meanwhile, requires entries to be an original poem written in a language that is not the first language spoken by the person writing it, usually a language studied in school.
Congratulations go to 14 year old Isabelle Redmayne, of King Edward VI School in Morpeth who is the winner of the Other Tongue section this year with her self-penned poem in French: ‘Victoire d’Argent’. She describes the inspiration for her winning entry below…
“The inspiration for this poem was a garden fork…perhaps I should elaborate! I was out in the garden at night and there was a huge moon that shone down on the dew on the grass, creating the most beautiful, sparkling effect. However, then I noticed what looked like a hand reaching out from the inside of the garden shed! I had been reading a murder mystery earlier, so I was very paranoid - it turned out to be garden fork! I wanted to make this experience sound more romantic than it actually was, so what better way than to put it in to a poem in French?!”
Congratulations also go to Sophie Emson and Aisha Arshad, Year 8 pupils at Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newcastle, whose poems ‘Ma Mère’ and ‘Ma Soeur’ were both Highly Commended in the Other Tongue category.
Sadly Sophie and Aisha were unable to join the celebrations in Manchester but, together with their counterparts from across the UK, Vaibhav and Isabelle took part in an uplifting programme of multicultural activities organised by the Routes into Languages North West team. These ranged from some highly energetic South Asian dancing through to thought-provoking music from Musicians without Borders, before it was time for our brave winners to read their poems aloud to the audience.
Following an inspiring speech from novelist and scriptwriter Qasira Shahraz, the prizes were awarded just in time for our winners to catch their train home.
*The poems from the 2014 competition are due to be added to a dedicated online area soon – watch this space for further details!*
Huge thanks go to all of the teachers and parents who supported the pupils in entering the competition and special thanks go to Yasmin Hussain and Karen Morrison at Routes into Languages North West, without whom the competition and celebration event could not have taken place!