Poetry In Voice Senior Competition: announcing the 42 semifinalists

People’s Choice Award

Watch the 42 semifinalists’ recitations and vote for your favourite!


For immediate release — 10 am EDT, March 11, 2020

Students across the country recite poems to reach the National Finals.



MONTREAL, QC — Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie announces 42 Semifinalists in its high school recitation contest! The National Finals will be broadcast live on April 22nd on poetryinvoice.ca. The 42 Grades 9–12 students were chosen from thousands of students from 1,400 schools across the country.

Here are our Semifinalists!

English Stream:

Hallelujah Aboona, St. Joseph's Catholic High School, Windsor, ON

Raushan Bindra, Semiahmoo Secondary School, Surrey, BC

Thierney Dignadice, Lord Selkirk Regional Secondary School, Selkirk, MB

Andy Duan, St. George's School, Vancouver, BC

Star Ezeano, All Saints High School, Calgary, AB

Anasofia Florez, University Of Toronto Schools, Toronto, ON

Al Gilbert, Kildonan-East Collegiate, Winnipeg, MB

Sophia Huang, University Transition Program, Vancouver, BC

Medina Javer, West Island College, Calgary, AB

Adrianna Kares, St. Gregory School, Calgary, AB

Aaliyah Leskie, Saint John High School, Saint John, NB

Spencer McCairns, Seycove Community Secondary School, North Vancouver, BC

Amy McCulloch, Crestwood Preparatory College, Toronto, ON

Mia Luz Nedellec, École Internationale De Montréal, Montréal, QC

Meghan Romano, Langley Fine Arts School, Fort Langley, BC

Zara Smith, West Point Grey Academy, Vancouver, BC

Maya Wilger, Webber Academy, Calgary, AB

Ingrid Yingchu Qin, Thornlea Secondary School, Thornhill, ON

French Stream:

Polina Afanasyeva, Calgary French & International School, Calgary, AB

Marianne Arseneault, École Secondaire Val Mauricie, Shawinigan Sud, QC

Chiara Castellani-Michaud, Collège Jean-De-Brébeuf, MONTRÉAL, QC

Rose Côté, Villa Ste-Marcelline, Westmount, QC

Victor Denoncourt, Collège St-Alexandre De La Gatineau, Gatineau, QC

Satine Gaudet, Collège Durocher Saint-Lambert, St-Lambert, QC

Reda Hessi, École Internationale De Montréal, Montréal, QC

Etienne Joulin, London Central Secondary School, London, ON

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

Rosalie Lavoie, Collège De Lévis, Lévis, QC

Romy Magdalena Pueyo, Collège Beaubois, Pierrefonds, QC

Noure Dalya Selmi, Toronto French School, Toronto, ON

Biligual Stream:

Lauren Altomare, Northern Secondary School, Toronto, ON

Léony Blanchette, Collège St-Alexandre de la Gatineau, Gatineau, QC

Youssef Farag, Collège Beaubois, Pierrefonds, QC

Sarah Hamdi, University of Toronto Schools, Toronto, ON

Léna Ka, École secondaire Jules-Verne, Vancouver, BC

Emily Kruk, Kildonan-East Collegiate, Winnipeg, MB

Rachel Lyonnais-St-Martin, Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, Montréal, QC

Philip Nedelev, Toronto French School, Toronto, ON

Hana Sereda, Calgary French & International School, Calgary, AB

Cassandra Souleles, Champlain Regional College - Saint-Lambert, Saint-Lambert, QC

Maria Upasula, École la Rose Sauvage, Calgary, AB

Naomi Varnovitski, Thornlea Secondary School, Thornhill, ON

To compete, students had to learn by heart two poems from the organization’s anthology and enter one of the contest’s three streams: English, French or Bilingual. The public is now invited to watch each semifinalist’s video and vote for the People’s Choice Award:



“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.”

David Smith, director of Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie

$25,000 in Prizes

On winning a place in the Semifinals, each reciter has already earned $250. The recipient of the People’s Choice Award will receive an extra $500. During the National Finals, a total of nearly $35,000 will be awarded to the winners and their school libraries.

While Poetry In Voice’s signature event is normally held in a different Canadian city each year, the changes due to COVID-related health measures gave an opportunity to share the students’ recitation videos more widely. Until March 25th, the public may watch the semifinalists’ 42 videos on poetryinvoice.ca and vote for their favourite one. Poetry lovers and neophytes alike: everyone will find poems and interpretations to their taste!

Poetry In Voice/Lesvoix de la poésie/Poetry In Voice promotes contemporary poetry and classical poetry, in order to make teaching poetry as easy and accessible as possible.

The judges

The poets who will judge the recitations in English are:

- David Bradford (from Montreal),

- Raoul Fernandes (from Vancouver),

- Laurie D. Graham (of Peterborough),

- James Langer (from St. John’s),

- Nisha Patel (from Edmonton),

- Dane Swan (from Toronto).

And the poets who will judge the recitations in French are:

- Nadine Ltaif (from Montreal),

- Anthony Lacroix (from Rimouski),

- Véronique Sylvain (from Ottawa).

The judges will have the difficult task of choosing the nine finalists to be announced on Thursday, March 25 and who will participate in the National Finals, broadcast live on April 22.

In the meantime, the public is invited to follow the young reciters on the Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie website and to vote for the People’s Choice Award.

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. 

Every year, 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 #3 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. 


For all media enquiries, including interviews with the Semifinalists or with Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie Director, David Smith, e: david@poetryinvoice.ca, c: 514.668.0768 Rorie Bruce, e: rorbruce@mymts.net, c: 204-781-1769





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