In 2010, Poetry In Voice created a recitation contest for senior high school students. Since then, we’ve developed the best online resources for teaching poetry in grades 6 through 12. Like thousands of other teachers across Canada, you’ll find exactly what you need here to get your students fired up about reading, reciting, and writing poetry.
New ideas for your next poetry class
Old & New Thinking
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Styles may transform over time, along with social mores, laws and priorities and even the standards by which we treat one another across cultures and genders and generations. But the ways we yearn, the ways we love, the ways we hate, the ways…
The Tone Map
In poems, the speaker moves through a series of moods and tones of voice, arranged in a particular order, to tell an emotional story. Even when poems seem like a simple series of images and we can’t say exactly what events are taking place, there is usually an emotional drama that develops over…
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary / Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore*... I decided to write a really scary poem! Creepy, freaky and downright weird. In these lessons students create their own horror poems by combining found language from poems…
Found Poetry in Two Languages
To develop a practice of writing poetry, external support can be a precious tool. Found and blackout poetry are techniques that allow the poet to compose an original new text drawing inspiration from other works or textual documents. In this case, students will pull from the Poetry In Voice…
Antonyms & Poetry: Exploring the Flipsides of Me
Understanding ourselves and realizing our strengths and weaknesses is an important life skill to teach our students. What better way to do that than to explore and be inspired by Sheree Fitch’s poem entitled “Sometimes”? This unit could be a great introduction to poetry at the beginning of the…
Writing poems using literal translations of common expressions
A second language, or translation, can be the spark that shows us our own language anew. This, in a wider sense, is what poetry does. This lesson will look at playful use of language + translation (including bilingual poems and homophonic translations), and will finish with students playing with…
The Connection between Poetry and Music
Music helps children develop rhythmic intelligence and notice rhythm in language, which are important skills in learning how to read and developing fluency as readers. In this lesson, students listen to poems read aloud, and they discuss the rhythm and sound of poetry. Students then perform poems…
Students are always learning about environmental issues, as well as, equality and inequality throughout the curriculum. Whether it is through units in Science (Wildlife& Ecosystems, Ocean Health, Air Pollution, Climate Change, Weather Extremes, Animal Habitat Destruction), Social Studies (…
Writing Poetry: Teamwork and Play 2
These workshops focus on reading simple but unique poems that embody the idea of play in various ways, and on group/individual writing in a spirit of exploration and spontaneity. IMPORTANT: All these exercises (with the exception of the correspondence-poem exercise at the end) can be done…
It has been said that in 1816 Lord Byron rented a house in Geneva, “Villa Diodati” where he, Percy Byshe Shelley, and Mary Shelley met. They spent the summer together, and over a period of 3 days of rain they were forced to remain inside. In order to pass the time, Byron challenged each person…
Animals Can Write Poetry Too
Younger students tend to have a special spot in their hearts for animals. This is the best time to introduce poetry, simple as it may be, from the perspective of animals. This unit gets students engaged in playful and descriptive words that help them imagine being in their preferred animal’s foot…
Poet In Class
Bring a poet into your classroom - for free!
Sally Ito is a Japanese Canadian poet and literary translator who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has published three books of poetry, Frogs in the Rain Barrel, Season of Mercy, and Alert to Glory and has published the poems of Japanese children's poet Misuzu Kaneko with co-translator Michiko Tsuboi in the illustrated children's picture book, Are You an Echo: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko. Ito has studied poetry and creative writing at the University of British Columbia and at Waseda University in Tokyo. She currently teaches creative writing at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. Ito's poetic interests are in poetry translation in Japanese and in German where she works collaboratively with co-translators who are either poets themselves or are intimately familiar with the language in translation. Much of Ito's poetry focuses on Christian spirituality and faith from which she draws inspiration and hope as well as from Japanese poets like Misuzu Kaneko and Kenji Miyazawa. Because Ito grew up bilingual, she is fascinated with how language conveys a culture's sensibility, temperament and disposition. In her translation work, she aims to discover how and why words mean or represent what they do in their respective language. Ito is also fond of social platforms for poetry and has used FB to write daily haiku and Instagram to share the poetry of others.
Dave Margoshes is a Saskatoon-area writer. He’s appeared six times in Best Canadian Stories and been a Journey Prize finalist. He’s published some twenty books, including six volumes of poetry; the most recent, A Calendar of Reckoning, appeared in 2018. His previous poetry title, Dimensions of an Orchard, won the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Awards Poetry Prize. He’s taught creative writing and led workshops at various locations, and for various age groups. He was writer in residence in Saskatoon in 2001-02 and Winnipeg in 1995-96. For several years, he was involved with Writers in Electronic Residence (WIER), which linked professional writers with high school students via the Internet. His poetry leans toward the narrative, with an emphasis on detail and concrete imagery. He values precision of language, emotional content and clarity above all else.
I have a broad range of poetic interests and influences. I am never happier than when reading an international anthology of poems. I am an immigrant, a traveller, and I am fascinated by 'geographies' in the broadest sense -- physical places as well as imaginative terrain. My work is the writing of nature and place, whether physical landscapes, or inner spaces of body and mind. My abiding fascination with the writing of place stems from formative experiences of a "lost world”—Scotland, where my family lived until I was three—and a "transplanted world"—Canada. This conflict-generating displacement inspires my poetry. I am particularly influenced by Scottish poets (George Mackay Brown, Kathleen Jamie, Don Paterson), Canadian ones (Elizabeth Bishop, Sue Goyette, the Villanelles - my poetry group), as well as Ellen Bass from the US, the late Meena Alexander, and Lucille Clifton. My work has been a finalist for prizes including the Arc Poetry 'Poem of the Year' 2020 and The CBC Poetry Prize 2021. I live in Kingston, Ontario, was born in Glasgow, and count Brazil, India and a cabin in the north woods near Bancroft as among my most inspiring of places.
Calgary , AB
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.
Sarah Pinder grew up on the north shore of Lake Superior, and currently lives in Toronto. She is the author of two books, Cutting Room (Coach House Books, 2012) and the Lambda Award–nominated Common Place (Coach House Books, 2017). Her work has also been included in magazines like Geist, Arc and Poetry is Dead. She is a long time zine-maker, and her work can also be found in Montreal’s Distroboto art vending machines. Her image-driven and experimental lyric work thinks critically about our current social, political, and ecological moment.
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.
David Ly is the author of Mythical Man (2020), which was shortlisted for the 2021 ReLit Poetry Award, and Dream of Me as Water (2022), both published under the Anstruther Books imprint at Palimpsest Press. He is also co-editor (with Daniel Zomparelli) of Queer Little Nightmares: An Anthology of Monstrous Fiction and Poetry (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2022). David's poems have appeared in publications such as Arc Poetry Magazine, Best Canadian Poetry, PRISM International, and The Puritan, where he won the inaugural Austin Clarke Prize in Literary Excellence. David is the Poetry Editor at This Magazine.
Cassidy McFadzean was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, graduated with an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and now lives in Toronto. In 2015 she published Hacker Packer, which won two Saskatchewan Book Awards and was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Her poems have appeared in magazines across Canada and the U.S., and she has been a finalist for the CBC Literary Awards and anthologized in The Best Canadian Poetry series. Her work is formally playful, often combining rhyme and pop culture allusions with references to classical mythology and the natural world to explore themes of gender roles, visual arts, and the supernatural. Cassidy’s second collection Drolleries, a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award, was published in 2019.
Gillian Jerome is a poet, essayist and instructor of literature in the Department of English at UBC. She teaches Canadian and American poetries of all historical periods, as well as poetries from other parts of the world. She has all kinds of experience teaching poetry to high school students and would be very happy to lead a writing workshop in your classroom and even share a lesson plan!
Jenny Haysom was born in England and raised in Nova Scotia. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Ottawa, and has served as Prose Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine. Her writing has been published widely, in places like CV2, Dusie, The Fiddlehead, The New Quarterly, and The Walrus, as well as in chapbook form (Blinding Afternoons, Anstruther Press). Dividing the Wayside, her first full-length collection of poems, was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and won the Archibald Lampman Award. Jenny's poetic practice is varied, though she particularly enjoys experimenting with traditional forms. Likewise, her subject-matter is wide-reaching, ranging from the personal to the political, from nature to human nature.
Lynn Crosbie was born in Montreal and is a cultural critic. A PhD in English literature with a background in visual studies, she teaches at the University of Toronto and the Art Gallery of Ontario. She wrote a novel called Where Did You Sleep Last Night, which was nominated for the Trillium Award and which tells the story of a teenage girl who has a relationship with grunge rocker Kurt Cobain. She is a contributing editor at the Globe and Mail, and a National Magazine Award–winner who has written about sports, style, art, and music.
Sharon Berg lives on the eastern coast of Newfoundland. She writes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that focuses on First Nations history and education. She founded Big Pond Rumours International Literary E-Zine (for poetry, fiction and book reviews) and its associated Chapbook Press in January 2006 and closed it with the Summer issue in August 2019. She also taught elementary school for many years, as well as conducting education seminars at the university level. She can adapt her observations and comments about writing to a variety of grade levels. She connects with students of all abilities and knows that students learn best when a) they are having fun, and b) they are using multiple skills. Sharon believes that poetry is not a staid old art but a relevant and exciting opportunity for self-expression. She enjoys asking students to create 3D poetry, wherein art, geometry, and poetry are combined on one geometric shape, such as an illustrated haiku on a tetrahedron (or triangle-based pyramid).
Use our website to engage your students!
Let your students browse the junior anthology for grades 6-8 and the senior anthology for grades 9-12 using Poem Roulette (search by theme, mood, or poet), the Random Poem, or the Poets page. Discover all kinds of content, including Mixtapes - poetic playlists that delve into a specific topic or theme.There’s truly something for everyone: our collection spans centuries and includes important contemporary Canadian voices, including Billy-Ray Belcourt, Emma Healey, and Canisia Lubrin.
Visit the RECITE section of our site to learn about how our Junior and Senior Recitation Competitions work. You’ll find all the tools you need to run a contest at the classroom and school levels. A Team Regional is a great local contest option too — contact us if you’re interested.
Students in grades 7-12 can submit their original poetry (inspired by the work of other poets) to our journal, VOICES/VOIX and to our monthly poetry prompt prize with chances to win prizes and take part in FutureVerse, an all-expenses paid poetry intensive. Get your students writing now with our writing prompts.
Screen a few of our incredible recitation videos, take a quiz (there are no wrong answers!) or listen to an episode of our podcast, which features poets in conversation with the contest finalists who recited their work.
From all of us at Poetry In Voice, thank you for sharing the beauty and power of poetry with your students.