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
Talking Poetry with Blabberize
In this lesson students are given the opportunity to be imaginative and expressive through the writing of three types of poems: acrostic, diamante, and theme. Building on their creativity, students then use Blabberize to create Blabbers of one of their poems. Sharing their Blabbers with the…
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…
Form Poetry and Memory Work
Students are often intimidated by the idea of writing form poetry, but this type of poetry can be most enjoyable to read and memorize. By first using the skills of listening, reading, and memory work to map out the structure of formal poems such as villanelles and sestinas, students will have a…
Watch Your Language
Language is a fundamentally human phenomenon and an ability that distinguishes us as a species on the planet. Language has also been a profoundly divisive issue between us. The goal of this lesson is to create awareness and understanding about language, and how aspects of its presence, absence,…
Using our Online Writing Workshop in the Classroom
This lesson provides ideas for teachers and librarians who want to incorporate our month-long, online, poetry workshop into your classroom’s daily routine. Students will be building their own writer’s notebooks and experimenting with writing and sharing poetry under the guidance of Poetry In…
Sonic Patterns: Exploring Poetic Techniques through Close Reading
In addition to developing background knowledge about allusions and the etymology of key words, students use an online tool to examine the relationship between the speaker and his father in Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays.” Then students explore how the poet uses consonance, assonance, and…
Afterwords : The Beauty That Lies Beside
The whole purpose is to tear down whatever is cliché and words that don’t lead to a concept but to an overused social rule, by exposing the students to the concrete reality, to the truly scalable, sizeable and perceivable object, to cold, hard anchors, to breed candour and cynicism, and to…
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…
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…
Character vs. Self
When developing a character, the actor will employ an approach that moves forward on two fronts: The first is to make an external study of the character, observing people in the world around to make choices that are within our capacity to mimic: I might choose to emulate the way my father-in-law…
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…
A Race with Grace: Sports Poetry in Motion
Can athletes’ moves be described as beautiful? How are grace, beauty, and aesthetics expressed through movement? These and many other questions will provide the framework for students’ exploration of poetry in motion of athletes who participate in a variety of sports. Examining examples from…
Poet In Class
Bring a poet into your classroom - for free!
Gwen Benaway is a trans girl. She has published four collections of poetry, Ceremonies for the Dead, Passage, Holy Wild, and day/break. She was the editor for an anthology of fantasy short stories, Maiden Mother and Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes. Her writing has been critically acclaimed and widely published in Canada. She was a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers from the Writer’s Trust of Canada, and her third poetry collection, Holy Wild, was longlisted for the Pat Lowther Award, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Trans Poetry, the Trillium Award, the Triangle Publishing Press Trans and Gender Variant Literary Award, and was the winner of the 2019 Governor General Literary Award for Poetry. Her essay, A Body Like A Home, won the Gold Prize from the National Magazine Awards for Personal Journalism. She is also currently editing a book of creative non-fiction, trans girl in love, forthcoming from Strange Light in 2020. She lives in Toronto, Ontario and is a Ph.D student at the University of Toronto in the Women and Gender Studies Institute.
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.
Tracy Hamon was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. She holds an MA in English from the University of Regina. Her first book of poetry, This Is Not Eden, was released in April of 2005 and was a finalist for two Saskatchewan Book Awards. A portion of Interruptions in Glass won the 2005 City of Regina Writing Award and was shortlisted for two Saskatchewan Book Awards in 2010. Her third collection, Red Curls, won the Drs. Morris and Jacqui Shumiatcher Regina Book Award in 2015.
Desiree Mckenzie (she/her) is an award-winning poet, arts educator, national poetry slam champion, and photographer from Toronto. Her poetry has been featured in CBC’s Poetic License series, VIBE Arts NExT Exhibit, When Sisters Speak, and Clearco Financial’s International Women’s Day Campaign. In 2020, she was awarded the JAYU iAM Arts for Human Rights Award recognizing creatives doing exceptional work where the arts and human rights intersect. As a facilitator, she works with organizations like Unity Charity, JAYU, Poetry In Voice, and VIBE Arts, bringing poetry into classrooms and community spaces across the country. In March 2021, she released her EP, Wet Hair, now available on streaming platforms.
Liana Cusmano (iel), connu aussi sous les noms Luca et BiCurious George, est écrivain, cinéaste, éducateur en arts et artiste de spoken word. Iel a été Champion de slam de Montréal en 2018 et en 2019, et finaliste dans le Championnat individuel de slam canadien en 2019. Participant à la résidence de spoken word du Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity en 2019, ses poèmes et nouvelles on été publiés dans des anthologies et des revues littéraires. Liana a présenté ses œuvres en anglais, en français et en italien à travers l’Amérique du Nord, l’Europe et l’Asie. Iel est le scénariste du court métrage "La femme finale," présenté au Festival de Cannes en 2015, et scénariste-réalisateur du film primé "Matters of Great Unimportance," présenté au Festival Metropolis Bleu en 2019. Iel a aussi été vedette de « Peuple, poésie, politique » dans le cadre de la série documentaire Vivre ensemble (2021). Ses œuvres explorent l’héritage culturel, l’identité queer, les relations interpersonnelles et la santé mentale, en espérant qu’on puisse s’y reconnaître et se sentir représenté. Liana a été président du Parti vert du Canada en 2020/2021, et son premier roman s’intitule Catch & Release (2022).
Angeline Schellenberg’s collection about raising children on the autism spectrum, Tell Them It Was Mozart (Brick Books, 2016), won three Manitoba Book Awards and was a finalist for a ReLit Award for Poetry. Her work was shortlisted for Arc Poetry Magazine’s 2015 and 2019 Poem of the Year. Adding to her debut Roads of Stone (The Alfred Gustav Press, 2015), she launched three chapbooks in 2019: Dented Tubas (Kalamalka Press), Blue Moon, Red Herring (JackPine Press), and Irises (Dancing Girl Press). Most of Angeline’s poems are confessional, often in the form of prose poetry or free verse, sometimes using found material in creative ways. The two-time Deep Bay artist-in-residence (Riding Mountain National Park) has been influenced by Méira Cook, Don McKay, Joanne Epp, and Jennifer Still. Angeline’s book of elegies for her grandparents, Fields of Light and Stone, launched with University of Alberta Press in March 2020.
Benjamin Hertwig is a National Magazine Award–winning writer, painter, and ceramicist, born and raised under big prairie skies and currently living on unceded Coast Salish territory, Vancouver. As a child, he liked sports publicly and books privately. Since graduating from high school, he has spent time as a soldier, a student, a bike courier, a treeplanter, an inner-city housing worker, and English instructor. His first book of poetry, Slow War, was a shortlisted finalist for the Governor General's Literary Awards, the Raymond Souster Award, and received the Stephan G. Stephansson Award. His writing has appeared with the New York Times, The Walrus, Ricepaper, and NPR, among others.
Lauren Seal is a poet, writer, and librarian based in Edmonton, Alberta. She was named St. Albert's Third Poet Laureate for the 2022-2024 term. She mentors the teen and young adult poets of SWYC - the Spoken Word Youth Choir - and performs in the adult incarnation of the group. Lauren's poetry has appeared in numerous literary magazines, anthologies, and once on a beer can. Her writing focuses heavily on illness, mental health, the body, and the difficulties of womanhood, although she does love to throw in the occasional dog or "urban nature" poem. She often writes narrative poetry and prefers using simple language. For her, a poem is a challenge to convey lots of emotion in few words.
Raoul Fernandes lives with his wife and two sons on the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations (Vancouver, BC). 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. To him, poetry is a way to see the strange in the ordinary, to connect with others, and explore what it means to be a human being. He is influenced by many contemporary poets, 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
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.
Bänoo Zan is a self-exiled poet, librettist, translator, teacher, editor and poetry curator, with numerous published pieces and three books. Songs of Exile was shortlisted for Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Letters to My Father was published in 2017. She uses symbolism, oxymoron and allusions to myth, religion, and culture and has been called a political, metaphysical, and spiritual poet. Zan has been influenced by classic and contemporary Persian poets as well as their counterparts in English, including Hafez, Rumi, Forough Farrokhzad, Ahmad Shamlou, Sohrab Sepehri, Shakespeare, John Donne, Sylvia Plath, and Adrienne Rich. She is the founder of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), Toronto’s most diverse poetry reading and open mic series (inception: 2012). A contract faculty member at Centennial College, she teaches ESL and English to international and domestic students. Bänoo is the current Writer-in-Residence at the University of Alberta in Edmonton from September 2022 to May 2023.
Suzannah Showler's first book of poetry, Failure to Thrive (ECW 2014), was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award and named one of the best books of the year by The National Post. Her second, Thing Is (McClelland & Stewart 2017), was longlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Her poetry explores phenomenological questions in the idiom of everyday life. Showler is also the author of Most Dramatic Ever (ECW 2018): a book of cultural criticism about the reality TV show The Bachelor. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Buzzfeed Reader, The Walrus, Hazlitt, and elsewhere.
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.