42 students across Canada will compete in $25K national poetry recitation contest

The Poetry in Voice competition challenges students in Grades 9-12 to learn two to three poems by heart and perform them in front of an audience.
Poetry in Voice is a national poetry recitation competition for Canadian high school students. (

Forty-two students across Canada will compete in the national poetry recitation competition Poetry in Voice.

The Poetry in Voice competition challenges students in Grades 9-12 to learn two to three poems by heart and perform them in front of an audience. They can compete in English, French or a bilingual category. $25,000 is given out to the winners across the three categories. 

The competition was established by Scott Griffin, chairman and founder of the Griffin Trust for Excellence In Poetry, in 2011.

For the second year in a row, the competition will be held virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 42 semifinalists were chosen from thousands of students participating from 1,400 schools across Canada. Each competitor had to perform two poems.

The English semifinalists are:

  • Hallelujah Aboona, St. Joseph's Catholic High School, Windsor, Ont.
  • Raushan Bindra, Semiahmoo Secondary School, Surrey, B.C.
  • Thierney Dignadice, Lord Selkirk Regional Secondary School, Selkirk, Man.
  • Andy Duan, St. George's School, Vancouver
  • Star Ezeano, All Saints High School, Calgary
  • Anasofia Florez, University Of Toronto Schools, Toronto
  • Al Gilbert, Kildonan-East Collegiate, Winnipeg
  • Sophia Huang, University Transition Program, Vancouver
  • Medina Javer, West Island College, Calgary
  • Adrianna Kares, St. Gregory School, Calgary
  • Aaliyah Leskie, Saint John High School, Saint John
  • Spencer McCairns, Seycove Community Secondary School, Vancouver
  • Amy McCulloch, Crestwood Preparatory College, Toronto
  • Mia Luz Nedellec, École Internationale De Montréal, Montréal
  • Meghan Romano, Langley Fine Arts School, Fort Langley, B.C.
  • Zara Smith, West Point Grey Academy, Vancouver
  • Maya Wilger, Webber Academy, Calgary
  • Ingrid Yingchu Qin, Thornlea Secondary School, Thornhill, Ont.

The French semifinalists are:

  • Polina Afanasyeva, Calgary French & International School, Calgary
  • Marianne Arseneault, École Secondaire Val Mauricie, Shawinigan Sud, Que.
  • Chiara Castellani-Michaud, Collège Jean-De-Brébeuf,Montréal, Que.
  • Rose Côté, Villa Ste-Marcelline, Westmount, Que.
  • Victor Denoncourt, Collège St-Alexandre De La Gatineau, Gatineau, Que.
  • Satine Gaudet, Collège Durocher Saint-Lambert, St-Lambert, Que.
  • Reda Hessi, École Internationale De Montréal, Montréal
  • Etienne Joulin, London Central Secondary School, London, Ont.
  • Lysiane Kouakou, Sir Winston Churchill High School, Calgary
  • Rosalie Lavoie, Collège De Lévis, Lévis, Que.
  • Romy Magdalena Pueyo, Collège Beaubois, Pierrefonds, Que.
  • Noure Dalya Selmi, Toronto French School, Toronto

The bilingual semifinalists are:

  • Lauren Altomare, Northern Secondary School, Toronto
  • Léony Blanchette, Collège St-Alexandre de la Gatineau, Gatineau, Que.
  • Youssef Farag, Collège Beaubois, Pierrefonds, Que.
  • Sarah Hamdi, University of Toronto Schools, Toronto
  • Léna Ka, École secondaire Jules-Verne, Vancouver
  • Emily Kruk, Kildonan-East Collegiate, Winnipeg
  • Rachel Lyonnais-St-Martin, Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, Montréal
  • Philip Nedelev, Toronto French School, Toronto
  • Hana Sereda, Calgary French & International School, Calgary
  • Cassandra Souleles, Champlain Regional College Saint-Lambert, Saint-Lambert, Que.
  • Maria Upasula, École la Rose Sauvage, Calgary
  • Naomi Varnovitski, Thornlea Secondary School, Thornhill, Ont.

Nine finalists will be selected in each category. The finalists will move on to the national finals, which will be broadcast live online on April 22, 2021 on the Poetry in Voice website.

The finalists will be announced on March 25, 2021.

David Bradford, Raoul Fernandes and Laurie D. Graham, James Langer, Nisha Patel and Dane Swan are judging the English category and the English recitations for the bilingual category.

Nadine Ltaif, Anthony Lacroix and Véronique Sylvain are judging the French category and the French recitations for the bilingual category.

This year, there will be a People's Choice Award.

You can watch the 42 semifinalists videos online and vote for your favourite. Voting for the People's Choice Award is open until March 25, 2021.

You can watch the videos and cast your vote here.

Last year's Poetry in Voice winners were Catricia Hiebert, Ghada Charki and Nahida Mohamadou.


  • This story has been updated to include Naomi Varnovitski from Thornlea Secondary School in Thornhill, Ont., among the 42 students who competed in the contest.
    May 18, 2021 1:36 PM ET

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