We’re very excited to introduce this year’s Senior Online Qualifiers judges. Our judges will be evaluating hundreds of video recitations. New for this year, 42 students will be named National Semifinalists. A second round of online judging will then determine the 9 students, 3 from each language stream, who will compete in our Online National Finals.
The 42 Semifinalists will be announced on Thursday, March 11. The 9 Finalists will be announced on March 25.
David Bradford is a poet, translator and editor based in Tioh'tia:ke (Montréal). He holds a BA from Concordia University and an MFA from the University of Guelph. A lifelong Montrealer, Bradford’s work formally engages and frustrates dominant conceptions of blackness in the Diaspora. His poetry has appeared in, among others, Prairie Fire, The Fiddlehead, fillingStation, The Capilano Review, Carte Blanche, and anthologized in The Unpublished City, a 2018 Toronto Book Awards finalist. He is the author of several chapbooks, including Call Out (knife | fork | book, 2017), Nell Zink Is Damn Free (Blank Cheque Press, 2017), and The Plot (House House Press, 2018). Bradford’s first book, Dream of No One but Myself (Brick Books, 2021), is an interdisciplinary inquiry into the versioning aspects of his and his family’s histories with abuse and trauma, and was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Bradford's second book, Bottom Rail on Top, is forthcoming in 2023 from Brick Books.
Raoul Fernandes lives and writes in Vancouver with his wife and two sons. His first collection of poems, Transmitter and Receiver (Nightwood Editions, 2015) won the Dorothy Livesay Award and the Debut-litzer Award for Poetry in 2016. He has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English. He writes mostly free verse, and occasionally tries out other poetic forms. He is interested in poetry as a way to see the strange in the ordinary, to deeply connect with others, and explore what it means to be a human being. He is influenced by Japanese haiku masters, the New York School, and the weird and wonderful poems his local poet friends are writing. You can read more about him at raoulfernandes.com.
Laurie D. Graham grew up in Treaty 6 territory (Sherwood Park, Alberta), and she currently lives in Nogojiwanong, in the territory of the Mississauga Anishinaabeg (Peterborough, Ontario), where she is a poet, an editor, and the publisher of Brick magazine, a journal of literary non-fiction based in Toronto. Her first book, Rove, is a book-length long poem that attempts to articulate the meaning of home as a descendent of prairie homesteaders. Rove was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for best first book of poetry in Canada. Laurie's second book, Settler Education, addresses the various ways that oppression of Indigenous people by settler society reverberates in the present tense. Settler Education was nominated for Ontario’s Trillium Award for Poetry. A third book, called Fast Commute, will be published by McClelland & Stewart in 2022. Laurie often works with the long poem, the lyric poem, and the found poem.
Anthony Lacroix was born in 1991 and grew up in a small village called Saint-Claude. He completed a master’s degree in literature at the University of Quebec in Rimouski, under the codirection of Camille Deslauriers and Nathalie Watteyne (University of Sherbrooke). His focus was on the representation of places and particularly “places of refuge” (lieux-refuges) in the work of Patrice Desbiens. He published a book (Carcasse d’Occident : haïkus & autres non-poèmes, 2014), two fanzines (Les fonctionnelles, 2014; Derrière les portes closes, 2015), as well as scholarly articles and creative texts in magazines or collective works. He is currently pursuing a PhD on the influence of the web and social networks in the space of fiction.
Born in Kitchener, ON, but raised in Heart’s Desire, Trinity Bay, NL, James Langer is the author of Gun Dogs (Anansi), which won The Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. In 2013, he co-edited The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Poetry. He has written both formal and free verse and hybrids of the two. His primary influences have been Seamus Heaney and Les Murray though he cites many authors as influences: Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Derek Walcott, Carol Ann Duffy, and Alice Oswald, among others. He earned his master’s degree in English from the University of New Brunswick in 2006 and has taught creative writing at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He lives in St. John’s.
Born in Lebanon in 1961, Nadine Ltaif spent her first thirteen years in her native country before she immigrated to Montreal in 1979. After her first collection of poems, Les métamorphoses d’Ishtar (1987), she became known for writing the experience of migration and exile, drawing on mythologies from the Middle East, and measuring her narrative against the realities of her new country and host city. Inspired as much by Japanese poetry as by the great Lebanese poet Adonis, Nadine Ltaif's work is also rooted in feminism. Her collection Entre les fleuves was shortlisted for the Nelligan Prize, the most important poetry prize for emerging poets in Quebec. Her work has been translated into many languages, and Ltaif has herself worked on literary translations. She studied literature at the University of Montréal and works for a film production company. She is the co-founder and co-editor of the digital magazine Mïtra. Her latest book, Rien de mon errance, was published in 2019.
Nisha Patel is an award-winning Indo-Canadian poet & artist. She is the City of Edmonton’s Poet Laureate, and the 2019 Canadian Individual Slam Champion, and the 2021 Regional Writer in Residence at the Metro Edmonton Federation of Libraries. She is a recipient of the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Fund Award. Nisha has performed across Canada and the world, from Glasgow to Seoul. Her poetry speaks to themes of race, feminism, and identity, focusing strongly on her struggles and triumphs as a woman of colour. She strives to build strong relationships, mentorship, and opportunities for artists around her, believing in the possibility and forgiveness of the Edmonton arts scene. Nisha is an alumnus of the University of Alberta School of Business. Nisha works to further her goal of building a stronger artistic community through living in her truth.
Dane Swan is a Bermuda-born, Toronto-based spoken word artist, former slam poet, musician, author, and emerging editor. A former remedial English student, he is now an author of both fiction and poetry. Dane's second poetry collection, A Mingus Lullaby, was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry in 2017.
Preferred poetic styles: Lyrical page poetry, contemporary page poetry, dub poetry, and spoken word
Preferred subjects: Social justice, music, history, and popular culture
Influences: Saul Williams, Richard Wright, Wanda Coleman, Walt Whitman, Richard Pryor, and Lenny Bruce
Born and raised in northern Ontario, Véronique Sylvain lives in Ottawa, where she has completed a master’s degree in French literature. In her first poetry collection, Premier quart (Trillium Prize, 2020), the poet revisits the North, her place of her birth, through travel and memories. Throughout her journey, she tries to understand the pains and realities at work in the harsh northern climate. She is brought back to her own struggles, loneliness, sadness, anguish, and to winter, which is an invitation to introspection on its own. Nature and writing allow Sylvain to stake her claim in a vast literary legacy. Her writing is inspired by established poets (Robert Dickson, Patrice Desbiens, Michel Dallaire), as well as emerging ones (Sonia-Sophie Courdeau, Daniel Aubin) who have contributed to the popular aesthetic of New Ontario. In addition to devoting herself to various artistic projects (songwriting, photography), Sylvain has been in charge of promotion and communications at Éditions David since 2014.