Griffin starts bilingual poetry recital contest

Scott Griffin has launched a new competition designed to revive the art of poetry recital among high school students.

Scott Griffin has launched a new competition designed to revive the art of poetry recital among high school students.

The founder of the Griffin Prize, Canada's richest poetry prize, announced the bilingual Poetry in Voice competition on Tuesday. It will offer $10,000 in prizes to students in 2011.

Griffin said the popularity of slam poetry and spoken word events makes this an excellent time to interest students in poetry recitation.

Schools in 2011 contest

  • Bayridge Secondary School, Kingston.
  • Cawthra Park Secondary School, Mississauga.
  • Collège Notre-Dame, Sudbury.
  • Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute, Toronto.
  • London Central Secondary School, London.
  • Lockerby Composite School, Sudbury.
  • R. H. King Academy, Scarborough.
  • South Carleton High School, Ottawa.
  • Toronto French School, Toronto and Mississauga.
  • Trafalgar Castle School, Whitby.
  • Upper Canada College, Toronto.
  • Victoria Park Collegiate Institute, North York.

"Poetry is not just for the elite — it is a language that should be spoken in the cafés, the streets and especially the classrooms of the nation," he said.

Students will compete within their school, then with other schools, in reciting both contemporary and classic poetry.

They will choose from a list of anglophone and francophone poetry put together by two Canadian poets, Québec poet Pierre Nepveu, winner of three Governor General's Awards for poetry, and Damian Rogers of Toronto.

A "poem finder" on the Poetry in Voice website lists works by W.B. Yeats, Bliss Carman, John Donne and many others for their recital potential.

Students will be rated by a panel of judges on their recital skills, with extra points for taking on poems not in their native language.

The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry has recruited 12 schools in Ontario for the first competition, but Griffin anticipates enlarging the competition to Ontario and Quebec the second year and later to all of Canada. The first winners will be chosen on April 12, 2011.