CBC Poetry Prize 2017

7 must-see Canadian poetry performances

Poetry has found a brand new audience in the digital age. Experimenting with sound and animation, poets are rocketing to social media fame with eloquent social commentaries. Watch these amazing videos from Canadian slam poets and you'll be asking yourself, does anyone really say it better than a poet?

Are you a poet? Then you should check out the CBC Poetry Prize. Send us your original, unpublished poetry for a chance to win $6,000, have your work published in in Air Canada enRoute magazine and attend 10-day writing residency at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. We are accepting entries until May 31, so get writing!

Mustafa The Poet

Mustafa The Poet has the soul and maturity of an artist much older than his under-20 age. He's gone on international tours, appeared on stage with Margaret Atwood and Nelly Furtado and has become a social media rock star with more than 28,000 followers on Instagram. The Toronto-based poet first stunned at the age of 12 with his performances inspired by growing up in Regent Park, the oldest and largest housing project in the country. His video Lost Souls best showcases what a meticulously detailed artist he is: every second is visually and aurally stunning.

Shane Koyczan

Shayne Koyczan has a voice that is sympathetic yet forceful, sober yet incredulous. His beautifully animated video To This Day is a spellbinding account of what it feels like to be bullied and how cruel kids can really be. Since 2013, the video has amassed over 17 million views. Watch it, hear it and prepare to be devastated:


One of the most successful slam poets in Canada, Ian French - also known as IF - is the subject of a new documentary, fittingly titled IF THE POET. French entered the world of slam poetry at the age of 50, and has stunned audiences with his performances about growing up with ADHD, getting into trouble with the police and striving to be a good father. Here's one of his classic performances, The ADHD Poem:

PrufRock Shadowrunner

PrufRock Shadowrunner is a well-known veteran of the slam poetry scene in Canada. Based in Ottawa, he's a member of the city's slam team, and also DJs, raps and acts. His video Countdown is an insanely clever, effortlessly delivered monologue about being black in the 21st century.

Sabrina Benaim

On Twitter, Sabrina Benaim describes herself as a poet, dance party enthusiast and Slytherin. We have another three words to add: powerful, brilliant and courageous. In her viral video, Explaining My Depression to My Mother, Benaim gives an excruciatingly bang-on description of what it's like to explain depression to someone who loves you, but just doesn't get it.

Katherena Vermette

Katherena Vermette is a Governor General's Award-winning M├ętis poet from Winnipeg. Her poem and video, Heart, commissioned by CBC Aboriginal, is about combating her neighbourhood's negative reputation for violence and racism. "This was my way of responding to what the world has been saying about my neighbourhood," said Vermette. 

Ian Keteku

The 2010 World Slam Poetry champion, Ian Keteku is known for experimenting with the slam poetry form. His latest album pairs spoken word with electronic melodies, a sound he calls "poetronica." His 2011 animated video Right Side Up falls into a different category; with backing vocals from Chloe Perrault and Gabrielle Giguere, it's something of an adult nursery rhyme about seeing things from a different perspective.