Nine Canadian students named 2021 finalists for $25K Poetry in Voice contest

The finalists for the annual national poetry recitation were chosen from over 10,000 Grade 9 to 12 students from schools across the country. The English and French winners for the inaugural People's Choice Award was also announced.

English and French winners for the inaugural People's Choice Award also revealed

Poetry in Voice is a national poetry recitation competition for Canadian high school students. (

Nine students from across Canada will compete in the finals for 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. A prize of $25,000 is given out to the winners across the three categories. 

The annual 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.

This year, a new People's Choice Award was also announced. 

Star Ezeano from All Saints High School in Calgary won the English People's Choice prize, worth $500, while Marianne Arseneault from École secondaire Val Mauricie, Shawinigan, Que., won the French People's Choice prize, also worth $500.

More than 10,063 people voted for their favourite recitation in the People's Choice Award category.

The nine finalists were selected from 42 semifinalists. The 2021 competition saw thousands of students participating from 1,400 schools across Canada. Each competitor had to perform two poems.

The English finalists are:

  • Thierney Dignadice, Lord Selkirk Regional Secondary School, Selkirk, Man.
  • Al Gilbert, Kildonan-East Collegiate, Winnipeg
  • Zara Smith, West Point Grey Academy, Vancouver

The French semifinalists are:

  • Reda Hessi, École Internationale De Montréal, Montréal
  • Lysiane Kouakou, Sir Winston Churchill High School, Calgary
  • Romy Magdalena Pueyo, Collège Beaubois, Pierrefonds, Que.

The bilingual finalists are:

  • Sarah Hamdi, University of Toronto Schools, Toronto
  • Rachel Lyonnais-St-Martin, Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, Montréal
  • Philip Nedelev, Toronto French School, Toronto

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 refilm their recitations and these new versions will be judged by a jury of poets: Mathew Henderson, Evelyn Lau, and Damian Rogers for the English recitations; Nicole Brossard, Georgette LeBlanc and Hector Ruiz for the French recitations. 

The National Finals will be hosted by former CBC Radio personality Johanne Blais.

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

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