2007 College Reading Competition

Described by one (foreign) graduate student witnessing it for the first time as 'a very British kind of event', last month's annual College Reading Competition was a lively affair, with readers of the highest quality competing in three rounds. For the first time the competition was held in the Audit Room, by courtesy of the Master, a room whose splendid acoustic is ideal for the spoken word.

Founded and endowed by the late Charles Larkum in 2004, the competition is intended to display the subtle art of reading aloud. The competitors are asked to read something of their own choosing – which this year ranged from Kingsley Amis's "Lucky Jim" to poetry by Wilfred Owen, C.P. Cavafy, and Simon Armitage – and a further two extracts chosen by the judges. One of the unseen passages was the opening paragraphs of "Huckleberry Finn", chosen in honour of members of the Huckleberry Finn Society (friends and family of Charles's) who attended the event, and this, written in a southern American dialect proved an excellent test of the mostly British readers. The final readings were a selection of somewhat disturbing and/or comic poems for children featuring goops, chimneysweeps, and Hillaire Belloc's "Henry King", a little boy given to eating string.

The three English fellows were joined in the judging this year by Matt Thorne (Sidney 1992), the distinguished young novelist and critic whose six novels include the Booker-longlisted Cherry (2004).

It was a difficult choice for the judges, with all eight candidates showing wonderful nuance in the various readings. The winner was Cathy Charlwood (English, 2nd year); the runner-up was last year's champion, Neil Archer (PhD student in French cinema).

Congratulations to Cathy and Neil, and to all the other contestants, and warm thanks to Matt Thorne for agreeing to make his triumphant return to his old college on a chilly autumn evening.

This is an archived news story, first posted in 2007.

For further information please contact the Graduate Tutor, Dr Stanley Bill (gradtutor@sid.cam.ac.uk) and Dr Berry Groisman (gradtutor@sid.cam.ac.uk)

News item posted Sunday, 3rd May 2015