We’re very excited to introduce this year’s Senior Online Qualifiers judges. Our judges will be evaluating hundreds of video recitations. 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 10. The 9 Finalists will be announced on March 24.
Serge Agnessan is an Ivorian writer born in Abidjan who has been living in Canada since 2015. In 2014, Agnessan participated in the Berlin International Poetry Festival and has been part of several other festivals in Canada and elsewhere since. He published Carrefour-Samaké with Poètes de brousse in 2018. It was while transitioning through the capital of Belgium that Serge Agnessan began writing the poetry collection we know today: a notebook of a migrant’s impressions wherein he resolves his identity crisis and chooses his affiliations. As a researcher in comparative literature, he is currently writing a thesis on the visual cultures of genocide at the University of Western Ontario. He is particularly interested not in memory, but rather in the denial of memory, in the refusal to remember. He is also fascinated by garbage and the smell of cities.
Vanessa Bell is a co-director of the organization CONTOURS, host of literary meetings, critic and cultural columnist for Radio-Canada. Her literary arts practice has allowed her to perform in Quebec, Europe and Scandinavia. She is the author of the collections De rivières (2019, La Peuplade) and MONUMENTS (2022, Le Noroît). She won the Félix-Antoine-Savard award (2021, FIPTR) and is, under the mentorship of Nicole Brossard, one of five Canadian authors currently supported by the Rising Stars program (2022, Writers' Trust of Canada).
Alice Burdick lives in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. She is the author of many chapbooks, pamphlets, folios and four full-length poetry collections. Deportment, a book of selected poetry, came out in 2018 from Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Alice's poetry has been described as playful, surreal and imagistic. She often writes about daily life as well as internal and external landscapes, and doesn't shy away from satire or the anti-sentimental lyric. Influences have included Emily Dickinson, Marina Tsvetayeva, Frank O’Hara, Lorine Niedecker, Ted Berrigan, and Anne Waldman.
Her work has also appeared in several anthologies including Surreal Estate: 13 Canadian Poets Under the Inﬂuence and Locations of Grief: An Emotional Geography and she has authored two cookbooks. She was co-founder of the independent bookstore Lexicon Books.
Born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Lorna Crozier is the author of 15 books of poetry, including the Governor General’s Award–winning Inventing the Hawk. Crozier edited the anthologies Breathing Fire: Canada’s New Poets and Breathing Fire 2 with her husband, poet Patrick Lane. She lives in British Columbia.
Canadian poet DOYALI ISLAM is the author of the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlisted heft (McClelland & Stewart, 2019), a book that was also honoured by the Province of Ontario as a finalist for the 2020 Trillium Book Award for Poetry and by The League of Canadian Poets as a finalist for the 2020 Pat Lowther Memorial Award.
Doyali has participated in CBC Books' Why I Write video-interview series, during which she said, “My advice would be to read and write poetry not just from mind intelligence, but from body intelligence. You will know that your language is working when you read or recite it back to yourself and you feel it working on you viscerally and emotionally. So render your technique in a rigorous way – but inform it with your heart, your spirit, and empathetic imagination.”
Doyali has discussed the value of silence on CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition; language, form, beauty, and empathy with Anne Michaels in CV2; and the relationship between poetry and the body on CBC Radio's The Next Chapter. Doyali has also been interviewed about heft through Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre Podcast.
Speaking about her poetics in an Adroit Journal conversation with Forrest Gander, Doyali said, “I guess I would consider the necessity to write about longing, pain, and despair a poetics of survival. I want to survive. I want you to survive. I want my readers-listeners to survive. I want certain kinds of language to survive. I want certain versions of history to survive. I want questions to survive.”
Of Bangladeshi and Arab ancestry, Doyali lives in Canada on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples.
Dominic Langlois lives in Moncton. He has written Mener du train (2010) and La rue en eaux troubles (2012), published by Éditions Perce-Neige. Bouton d'Or Acadie published his first children's novel, Le trésor de Memramcook (2014), for which he was a finalist for the Ontario Library Association's Tamarac Award and for the Hackmatack Literary Award. Dominic has contributed to several journals and is involved with the Acadian creative writing journal Ancrages. In the spring of 2016, he released Les sentiments barbares, his third poetry collection.
Steve Locke is a Winnipeg writer, poet, and arts educator. As a winner of titles including Winnipeg Individual Slam Champion and Winnipeg Grand Slam Champion, his honest and engaging spoken word performances have been featured on community and festival stages across the country, including The 2017 Canada Games and The Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. On the page, his fiction, poetry, and reviews have appeared in The Winnipeg Review, Oratorealis, CV2, Poetry is Dead, and Prairie Fire magazines. As a Manitoba Arts Council Artist in the Schools, his youth workshops build community and confidence in self-expression through spoken word. Visit him at stevelockewpg.com.
Greg Santos is a poet, editor, and educator. He is the author of Blackbirds (2018), Rabbit Punch! (2014), and The Emperor's Sofa (2010). His new full-length poetry collection is Ghost Face (2020). His work has also been featured in a range of Canadian and international periodicals. Greg is the Editor in Chief of the Quebec Writers' Federation's online literary magazine, carte blanche. Santos's poetry has been described by poet Stuart Ross as "intimate, dark, enigmatic, playful, and surreal." He is a Montreal-born Cambodian adoptee with Portuguese and Spanish heritage. His writing is known for touching on popular culture, identity, migration, adoption, parenthood, family, love, imagination, and the power of hope. He regularly works with at-risk communities and teaches at The Thomas More Institute. He lives in tio'tia:ke/Montréal with his family.
Born in New York, Adam Sol has lived in Toronto for 20 years. He has published five books of poetry, including Broken Dawn Blessings, his most recent collection. His novel-in-verse Jeremiah, Ohio was shortlisted for Ontario’s Trillium Award for Poetry and his collection Crowd of Sounds won the award in 2004. He also is the author of How a Poem Moves: A Field Guide to Readers of Poetry, a series of essays that was published in book form by ECW in 2019. The blog continues at: https://howapoemmoves.wordpress.com. He teaches at the University of Toronto's Victoria College, where he's the Coordinator of the Creative Expression & Society program.
His poetic interests circle around the complications of being a person, how we are at once serious human beings with spiritual yearnings and socio-political frustrations, and also people who like to play stupid video games and eat beaver tails. How can poems reconcile these conflicting selves? He went to school for a long time and earned a bunch of degrees, but gets equal inspiration from the goofy as the esoteric, from Herman Melville to Bert & Ernie, from Talmudic stories to the Toronto Raptors.