We were delighted to have Dr. Verner Bickley as guest for our first gathering in 2014. He recently published the book set, Poems to Enjoy, with the intention of not only teaching poetry to students, but also to prepare them for performing these poems at the Hong Kong Speech Festival. Dr. Bickley has been an adjudicator at the Festival since 1987 and shared with us his extensive experience at the event. His sharing gave us insight on how young people in local schools can benefit from reading English poems, not only in terms of acquiring a new language, but the process of participating in speech festivals and contests boosts one’s confidence which serves the individual’s development on many levels. Dr. Bickley stressed that parents and teachers should be supportive to a student participating in such an event. Rather than a competition, the Festival is more of a celebration of language arts and the spoken word. This point is emphasized in the title of the book set, Poems to Enjoy. Poetry, indeed, is to be enjoyed, and Dr. Bickley has facilitated this process by handpicking a set of poems that cater to the process of a young person’s linguistic and intellectual development.
(photos by Paul Wan)