Poems of the Decade 2021 – emagazine Student Conference


With poets Sarah Howe, Daljit Nagra, Julia Copus and Simon Armitage, critic Sarah Crown and Barbara Bleiman, plus performance poet Harry Baker to end the day.

  • Readings and performances by poets set for the EDEXCEL AS and AL.
  • Discussion of poems and aspects of contemporary poems by poets and poetry writers.
  • Comparing poems.
  • Looking ahead to A Level – responding to an unseen poem and a set poem.

Feedback on recent emagazine student conferences

Teachers said:

A great balance between the recognition that there is an examination which must be prepared for and a joyful celebration of poetry for poetry’s sake.

As with all events and resources offered by EMC, I thought the conference was outstanding…The perfect balance of practicality and inspiration.

An excellent day and incredible value for money!

Inspirational and such fun!

An excellent variety of speakers and subjects!

Students said:

Simply mind-blowing!

Loved seeing and hearing the poets talk about their poems!

Really good speakers and very interesting and helpful content.

Presented in a fun way, leaving us to feel both educated and entertained!

Booking enquires

General booking enquires:

Email Maria

Programme enquiries:

Email Emma


Poems of the Decade 2021 – emagazine Student Conference


Tuesday 7th December 2021


Friends House
173-177 Euston Road

Programme & Speakers

Programme & Speakers

Come and be inspired by hearing poets reading and discussing their own work, develop your critical understanding of contemporary poetry and enjoy spoken word performance! Ideal for AS students going on to AL and for students doing a two year linear A Level.

image of Welcome

Emma Barker welcomes you to the Conference

Emma Barker, English and Media Centre, introduces and welcomes you to the Conference

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Sarah Howe

The Very Act of Telling

What’s the difference between a poem and a story? We tend to think of poetry and fiction as very different creatures. One is an art of compression, which holds up language’s surfaces to the light; the other unfolds the workings of plot and character across time. But what happens when these impulses collide? In this lecture, we’ll look closely at a selection of the set anthology poems, picking apart the layers of narrative they contain. How do poets today evoke lifelike characters, or create dramatic suspense, with just a few strokes? How can we learn to listen for the implied stories that emerge from the spaces at a poem's margins?

In this lecture, Sarah Howe will look closely at a selection of the set anthology poems, picking apart the layers of narrative they contain. How do poets today evoke lifelike characters, or create dramatic suspense, with just a few strokes? How can we learn to listen for the implied stories that emerge from the spaces at a poem's margins?

Sarah Howe is a British poet, academic and editor. Her first book, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015), won the T.S. Eliot Prize and The Sunday Times/PFD Young Writer of the Year Award. Born in Hong Kong to an English father and Chinese mother, she moved to England as a child. Her pamphlet, A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia (Tall-lighthouse, 2009), won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. She has performed her work at festivals internationally and on BBC Radio 3 and 4. She is a Lecturer in Poetry at King’s College London

image of Daljit Nagra
Daljit Nagra

'Look We Have Coming to Dover'

Daljit Nagra reads and discusses his poem 'Look We Have Coming to Dover', including audience Q&A.

Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University, Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, Daljit’s four poetry collections have won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem and Best First Book, the South Bank Show Decibel Award and the Cholmondeley Award. The inaugural Poet-in-Residence for Radio 4 & 4 Extra, he presents the weekly Poetry Extra.

11.40-12.10pm BREAK

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Simon Armitage

Reading, discussion, questions

Simon Armitage reads and discusses his poem 'Chainsaw Versus the Pampas Grass', followed by a reading and discussion of Vicki Feaver’s poem 'The Gun' and then Q+A.

Simon Armitage is the UK Poet Laureate. His numerous accolades include the 2018 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and an Ivor Novello Award for song-writing in the BAFTA-winning film Feltham Sings. He has published over a dozen collections of poetry and is the author of two novels and three non-fiction bestsellers. His poetry has been on the GSCE and A level curricula for two decades now. His latest books are Magnetic Field, inspired by the West Yorkshire village where he grew up and began life as a writer, and his translation of the medieval ‘verse contest’ The Owl and the Nightingale. Armitage also writes extensively for television and radio, most recently the BBC’s A Pandemic Poem: Where Did the World Go? Armitage is currently Professor of Poetry at Leeds University. 


Photo credit: Peter James Millson (2017)

12.55-2pm LUNCH

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Julia Copus

'An Easy Passage'

Julia Copus reads her poem 'An Easy Passage' comparing an earlier draft to the published poem. She then discusses it and Helen Dunmore’s 'To My Nine-Year-Old Self’ with poetry critic Sarah Crown.

Julia Copus has published four collections of poetry and been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot and Costa Book awards. In 2019 her most recent collection, Girlhood, became the first winner of the USA’s Derek Walcott Prize for a book of poems by a non-US citizen. Her other awards include First Prize in the National Poetry Competition and the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. Her biography of Charlotte Mew, This Rare Spirit, was published by Faber in 2021 and described by John Carey in the Sunday Times as ‘a triumph of imaginative sympathy’. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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Sarah Crown

​Sarah Crown is Director of Literature at the Arts Council England. She edited the Guardian's books website for many years, and regularly reviews fiction and poetry for the Guardian, the Telegraph and the TLS

image of Barbara Bleiman
Barbara Bleiman

Comparing Poems – Seeing What’s at Stake in Set Poems and Unseen Ones

This session will provide an opportunity for students to try out a guided activity that brings together a little cluster of set poems with some unseen ones. It will demonstrate how big picture thinking can offer fruitful angles for the comparison of poems that is at the heart of the EDEXCEL exam.

Barbara Bleiman is an Education Consultant at EMC and co-editor of emagazine. She has written numerous articles, blogs and chapters in books about English teaching, including a book, What Matters in English Teaching, published by EMC in April 2020.  She was the recipient of the NATE Award for Outstanding Contribution to Teaching of English (2019) She is also a fiction writer, with two published novels. Her collection of short stories, Kremlinology of Kisses, appeared in October 2020.

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Harry Baker

We are delighted to be able to welcome back Harry Baker to bring the Conference to a conclusion.

From creating Jay-Z maths parodies to forming bilingual falafel-based tongue twisters, the love and craft of language has always been at the heart of Harry’s work. See him perform a combination of old and new poems that have taken him all over the world.

World Poetry Slam Champion Harry Baker published his debut anthology The Sunshine Kid’ with Burning Eye in December 2014. The subsequent show of the same name was voted ‘Best Spoken Word show’ of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015. Now a fully fledged maths graduate and full time poet, his work has been shared on TED.com and viewed millions of times worldwide, as well as being translated into 21 different languages. The UK tour of his Edinburgh show ‘I am 10,000’ based on turning 10,000 days old has been extended by almost 2 years due to overwhelming demand/a global pandemic and after one too many Zoom gigs he is very excited to be performing poems to people face to face again!

‘Harry Baker’s intricate, quick-fire rhymes have always been on the impressive side of mind-blowing’ – The Scotsman



Where is the Conference Held?

The emagazine Poems of the Decade Conference is being held at Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ – directly opposite Euston Station.


Getting to the Conference


The closest train stations are Euston and Kings Cross.

Tube (underground)

Tube stations within a 5 to 15-minute walk include: Euston, Euston Square, Kings Cross, Goodge Street, Russell Square, Tottenham Court Road and Warren Street. The closest tubes are Euston and Euston Square.


Numbers 10, 18, 30, 73, 205 and 390 pass the door whilst 59, 68, 91, 168, and 253 stop nearby.

Travelling by Minibus or Car?

Friends House is within a meter parking zone. Charges must be paid Monday to Friday 08:30 - 18:30 and Saturday 09:00 - 13:30. Please note that Friends House is within the congestion charge zone. For details of how to pay here.


Coaches may stop outside Friends House to drop students off.


There is no on-site parking available at Friends House. The local roads have metered parking bays and fall within TfL charging zones. TFL driving information is available on the TFL website: tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/. There are three disabled blue badge parking bays located in Endsleigh Gardens. Information about Camden Council parking is available on the Council's website: www.camden.gov.uk/where-to-park.

Important Info

Important Info

Prices, Booking and Cancellations


The fee is £22 per student, with one free teacher place per 10 students. (For small groups of up to nine students, a single free teacher place will be available.)
For additional teachers, or teachers attending without students, for their own interest or CPD, the charge is £50 each.


  • Book online and choose to pay by invoice.
  • Conference places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. 
  • Please note: we are unable to take provisional bookings.
  • Please do not make final travel arrangements until your final booking has been confirmed and we have contacted you to let you know that you have definitely been allocated places.


Cancellations or amendments can be made without charge until 5pm on Tuesday 23rd November 2021. After this date, 100% charge will be made.


Should schools need to cancel coming to the event at the last minute due to Covid-19, a full refund will be on offer.

Please note: We will be unable to make refunds in the case of weather, transport difficulties or circumstances beyond our control (other than Covid-19).

Arrangements on the Day

Risk Assessment/COVIS-19 Protocols

For your risk assessment, you can find Covid 19 Protocols at the venue here.


Registration will open at 9.30 and we ask you to be in your seats for 10.15am.

Entrance is via the Euston Road entrance to Friends House.

Teachers Accompanying Students

We expect all students to be accompanied by a teacher. There should be a minimum of 1 teacher per 20 students.
We request that teachers meet their students in advance, register as a group and sit with their groups of students. Teachers are responsible for ensuring that their own students maintain acceptable standards of behaviour in the auditorium and in the Friends House building.

Lunch and Refreshments

The cafe at Friends House is open from 8am.

You and your students will be responsible for providing your own lunches. There are sandwich shops in the area immediately behind Friends House and plenty of food outlets across the road at Euston Station.

There are spaces outside for students to eat their packed lunch but no indoor spaces.

Full – waiting list


This conference is already fully booked. However, places may become available. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, please email admin@englishandmedia.co.uk.