German painting inspires prize-winning student’s ‘Dinggedicht’


A student at a Northamptonshire school has won a prestigious prize for a poem inspired by a famous German painting.

A student at a Northamptonshire school has won a prestigious prize for a poem inspired by a famous German painting. 

Ninety secondary students from across the UK took part in the Dinggedicht Poetry Competition, run by the Institute of Modern Languages Research, the British Museum, and the German Academic Exchange Service.

The entrants had to write a 250-word “Dinggedicht” – a poem based on an object. The work could be written in German or English and had to be based on one of the objects on show at the British Museum’s highly acclaimed Germany – Memories of a Nation exhibition.

The exhibition, which runs until Sunday (January 25), features a host of iconic objects reflecting German history over the last 600 years, including an original Gutenberg bible, a 1953 Volkswagen Beetle and a chunk of the Berlin wall.

Alanna Gilmartin, a 15-year-old pupil at Oundle School in Northamptonshire, scooped first prize for a poem written in English by a secondary student, while Watford Grammar School pupil Nicola Jacques won first prize for a poem written in German.

Alanna’s poem, Never Alone, was based on Der Mittag (which means midday in German), a painting by Caspar David Friedrich made in the 1820s. Nicola’s work, Der Bahnhof, was inspired by a model of Friedrichstrasse Station in Berlin.

“I was truly honoured to take part in the awards ceremony at the British Museum and overjoyed that it was held at such an amazing place,” said Alanna.

Emily Wagstaffe, head of German at Oundle School, was delighted by Alanna’s achievement. 

“I was overwhelmed with the enthusiasm our pupils showed,” she said. “They all set about writing their poems in various ways, in German and in English, and were inspired by lots of different items from the exhibition. 

“Alanna clearly spent time researching Friedrich’s painting and produced a wonderful reflection of his work in her Dinggedicht.” 

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CAPTION: Object lesson: Winning student Alanna Gilmartin (top), whose entry was inspired by the painting Der Mittag by Casper David Friedrich (above)



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