Poems on gun culture, solar eclipse win 2018 Shakespeare Selfie student writing challenge

Cynthia Gan from Richmond, B.C. and Benjamin Wexler from Montreal, Que. are the winners of the annual CBC Books competition.
Cynthia Gan attends Richmond Christian High School in Richmond, B.C. and Benjamin Wexler is a Herzliah High School student from Montreal, Que. (Submitted by Cynthia Gan and Benjamin Wexler)

Cynthia Gan's The Universe's Greatest Love Story and Benjamin Wexler's As Bodies Fall are the winners of the 2018 Shakespeare Selfie student writing challenge, as selected by judge Kenneth Oppel.

CBC Books challenged students from Grades 7 to 12 to write a soliloquy or monologue in the voice of a Shakespearean character based on a prominent news, pop culture or current affairs event from the last year (April 2017 to April 2018). Nearly 600 students responded, tackling a wide range of subjects.

Gan's poem on the solar eclipse of 2017 won the Grades 7 to 9 category. The Grade 9 student from Richmond, B.C. wrote from the perspective of Friar Laurence from Romeo and Juliet.

"A unique comparison of a total solar eclipse to the consuming and short-lived love of Romeo and Juliet, this original poem features some strong metre and excellent use of metaphor," said Oppel.

Gan attends Richmond Christian Secondary School and is 14 years old.

Wexler wrote about gun culture in the U.S. in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

"Written in the voice of Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet, this passionate poem about mass shootings and gun culture is impressively constructed in iambic pentameter, and shows an authentic Shakespearean command of striking imagery and rhyme," said Oppel.

Wexler is a 15-year-old student at Herzliah High School in Montreal.

Both Gan and Wexler will receive a one year subscription to OwlCrate, which sends a monthly box of books and other items related to books. Their schools will each receive 50 YA books donated from Canadian publishers.

Below, explore the work of all the finalists as chosen by a team of readers at CBC Books.

Grades 7 to 9 category

Grades 10 to 12 category

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