Announcing our 24 National Semifinalists

For immediate release – 10 am EDT, March 19, 2020


Given the rapidly evolving COVID-19 global pandemic, Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie will hold an online National Finals next month. This safe format enables us to celebrate the achievements of our student reciters and provide them with a national platform to share poetry aloud.


MONTREAL, QC – Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie announces the 24 Semifinalists in its high school recitation contest, chosen from over 20,000 students from 1,400 schools across the country. The talented Grade 9-12 reciters will compete for $25,000 in total prize money for themselves and their school libraries in an online contest. Their recitations will be judged by preeminent Canadian poets, including the winners of the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. The 9 winners will be announced on Friday, April 17 at 1pm.


The judges of the English recitations will be Gwen Benaway, Moe Clark, and Greg Santos. The judges of the French recitations will be Joséphine Bacon, Anne-Marie Desmeules, and Pierre Nepveu.


We are pleased to introduce the 24 Semifinalists in our contest’s three language streams (photos are available):


English Stream        


Safae Bizgarne, Westminster Secondary School, London, Ontario

Joyce Chen, Little Flower Academy, Vancouver, BC

Bianca Sanchez Galvin, York House School, Vancouver, BC

Kumar Hind, École internationale de Montréal, Montréal, QC 

Divyan Karunakaran, Eric Hamber Secondary School, Vancouver, BC 

Gia Krikellas, St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, Windsor, ON

Rena Liu, Ottewell School, Edmonton, AB 

Rebecca Marchetti, Etobicoke School of the Arts, Etobicoke, ON 

Anisa Pirani, Westmount Charter School, Calgary, AB 

Nawal Semir, Glenlawn Collegiate, Winnipeg, MB          

Anna Shi, Toronto French School, Toronto, ON    

Madlyn Woodruff, Harbour View High School, Saint John, NB      


Bilingual Stream


Stephanie Aboukhater, Thornlea Secondary School, Thornhill, ON 

Farah Elnakoury, École secondaire Étienne-Brûlé, Toronto, ON

Lysiane Kouakou, Sir Winston Churchill High School, Calgary, AB 

Rachel Lyonnais-St-Martin, Collège Durocher Saint-Lambert, St-Lambert, QC 

Nahida Mohamadou Kingui, Lycée Louis Pasteur School, Calgary, AB

Jenny Wang, Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, Montréal, QC 


French Stream


Delicia Akimana, St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, Windsor, ON

Minh Duc Hoang, École internationale de Montréal, Montréal, QC

Léane Plouffe, Collège Lionel-Groulx, Sainte-Thérèse, QC

Romy Magdalena Pueyo, Collège Beaubois, Pierrefonds, QC 

Evan Sapozhnikov, Lycée Louis Pasteur School, Calgary, AB 

Audrey Tardif, École des Chutes, Rawdon, QC


To date, over 300,000 students have recited a poem with Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie. “Each one of these students has gained a deeper understanding of how poems are crafted, which has made them better readers and writers of poetry,” says Director David Smith. “Among this year’s 24 Semifinalists are sure to be Canada’s future leaders, orators, and poets.” 


The organization hosts two national recitation contests (one for students in Grades 9-12, and another for students in Grades 6-8) and a dozen local team recitation contests every year. These contests rely on robust online anthologies of classic and contemporary poems in English and French. The organization also publishes an annual bilingual journal of student poetry, VOICES/VOIX, with issue #2 to be released this June. 


Their websites also include comprehensive teaching materials, and to date Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie has sent poets into over 1300 classrooms to work with over 40 000 students through their Poet In Class/Poètes à l’école program. 


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For all media enquiries, including interviews with the Semifinalists or

Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie Director, David Smith, contact: 

Myriam Comtois, c : ; t : 514 462-1383




About Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie –

Founded by Scott Griffin, chairman and founder of the illustrious Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry, Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie encourages all Canadians to speak the language of poetry. They are the essential resource for teaching and learning poetry in Canada — and beyond. The organization started by hosting a recitation contest with 12 schools in Ontario in 2010, and has since become “a cultural force in Canada,” according to Margaret Atwood. 


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien.



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