2023 Senior National Finals Host & Judges

On April 20 at 7pm MDT, the top 9 finalists competed for $18,000 in prizes. Watch the show on our website.

Finals Host

Liana Cusmano

Writer, filmmaker, spoken word artist and arts educator Liana Cusmano first became involved with Poetry in Voice/Les voix de la poésie when they competed in the 2012 National Finals. Now our Director of Communications, Liana was the 2018 and 2019 Montreal Slam Champion and runner up in the 2019 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Championship. Their first novel, Catch & Release (2022) was published by Guernica Editions, and they were a 2022 finalist for the QWF Spoken Word Prize. 



Clémence Dumas-Côté

Clémence Dumas-Côté was born in Montreal in 1986. After training in performance at the National Theatre School of Canada, she completed a Master's degree in creative writing. She has published two collections of poetry with Les Herbes rouges: La femme assise (2019) and L'alphabet du don (2017), as well as a novel, Glu, in 2022. She is a contributor to the journals MoebiusEstuaireLettres québécoisesZinc and Les Écrits, and is developing sound art, Mues, with the contemporary dance company Le Radeau. She participates in readings and literary events here, in Europe and in Mexico.

Her style is influenced by formalism and is very much rooted in sensoriality. Her influences are mainly visual artists such as Francesca Woodman, Sophie Calle and Louise Bourgeois, and in literature, Paul Celan, Annie Ernaux, Joyce Carole Oates, and Alice Munro. She likes to write from the relationship to the body and to make images collide, so that they might burst like bubbles.


Evelyne Gagnon

Poet and essayist Evelyne Gagnon lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where she is a full professor of literary studies at Athabasca University. She completed a Ph.D. at UQAM and a post-doctoral fellowship at l'Université de Montréal on Quebec poetry, followed by a second post-doctoral fellowship at the Centre for Canadian Literature (CLC) at the University of Alberta, exploring the renewed forms of melancholy in contemporary Quebec and Canadian literature. She has published studies on poetry and literature in several books and scholarly journals. She was awarded the Prix de poésie Clément-Marchand in 2001 and her poems have appeared in Le SabordMoebius and Les écrits. Her collection of poems Incidents (et autres rumeurs du siècle) was published by Editions du Noroît (Montreal) in 2022. Her poetry explores the melancholy that we currently feel and that is often expressed by a vague sadness, a weariness, even a feeling of powerlessness in the face of the multiple catastrophes (small and large) that occur in our world. She addresses several themes such as the climate crisis, the omnipresence of technology and progress, overconsumption, but also the need to create links with others and to reconnect with our common humanity.


Richard Harrison

Richard Harrison’s On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood (Wolsak & Wynn) won the 2017 Governor General’s and Stephan G. Stephansson (Alberta) Prizes for poetry. The following year it was published in translation in Italy. Richard’s work follows the storytelling traditions of Canadian poets Alden Nowlan and Patrick Lane, and his influences include Sharon Olds, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and, because his father loved to recite it, the poetry of Dylan Thomas. Richard writes chiefly on family history and about the narratives (and poems) that join the generations. His poems are also often described as an inquiry into the power and limitations of poetry itself. He recently retired from his professorship at Calgary's Mount Royal University where he taught English, Comic Studies, and Essay and Creative Writing. His most recent book is 25: Hockey Poems New & Revised published on the 25th Anniversary of Hero of the Play, the first book of poems launched at the Hockey Hall of Fame. 


Micheline Maylor

Dr. Micheline Maylor is the past Poet Laureate of Calgary 2016-18. She is a University of Calgary Senator, a Tedx talker, a Walrus talker, and she was the Calgary Public Library Author in Residence (2016). Micheline attained a Ph.D. at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in English Language and Literature with a specialization in Creative Writing and 20th Century Canadian Literature. She teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University in Calgary, where she won the 2015 Teaching Excellence Award and was short-listed for the Robert Kroetsch award for experimental poetry. She serves as poetry acquisitions editor at Frontenac House Press. She is the co-founder of Freefall Literary Society and remains a consulting editor. Her most recent book Little Wildheart (U of A Press 2017) was long listed for both the Pat Lowther and the Raymond Souster Awards. 


Rodney Saint-Éloi

Rodney Saint-Éloi (born in 1963) is a Haitian-born poet, writer, essayist and editor. He studied Francophone literature at l’Université Laval. His dissertation Émergence de la poétique créole en Haïti is about the history of the Creole language. He founded the publishing house Mémoire in Haiti, the magazine Cultura and the art and literature journal Boutures. Rodney Saint-Éloi is the author of a dozen books of poetry and has translated a dozen works from French into Creole. He has edited several anthologies and, in 2003, founded the Montreal-based publishing house Mémoire d'encrier, which has become the reference point for a literature of diversity. He discovers writers of different origins (Indigenous, Quebecois, Haitian, Senegalese, West Indian, etc.) in an approach that centres "otherness as a means towards futures and solidarities".


Titilope Sonuga

Titilope Sonuga is a Nigerian-Canadian writer, poet, playwright and performer whose work grasps for moments of tenderness and persistent joy at the intersection of blackness and womanhood. She is the author of three award-winning collections of poetry, Down to Earth (2011), Abscess (2014), and This Is How We Disappear (2019) and has composed and released two spoken word albums, Mother Tongue (2011) and Swim (2019). Titilope has written three plays, The Six; an intergenerational exploration of womanhood, Naked; a one-woman play and Ada The Country, a musical. She has scripted global advertising campaigns for brands including; The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, Intel Corporation, Guaranty Trust Bank and The MacArthur Foundation. She was an actor on the hit television series Gidi Up, which aired across Africa. Her writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovak. She is the 9th Poet Laureate of the City of Edmonton.

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