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
Sometimes limiting our choices inspires incredibly creative results. This writing exercise will give your students the chance to find their own voices while working with a block of text written by someone else. Erasures are fun, but they can also be serious. This lesson plan refers to several…
Ekphrasis: Using Art to Inspire Poetry
In this lesson, students explore ekphrasis—writing inspired by art. Students begin by reading and discussing several poems inspired by works of art. Through the discussion, students learn ways in which poets can approach a piece of artwork (for instance, writing about the scene being depicted in…
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…
Speaker & Mover 2: Advanced
There is a genre of theatre, inspired by classical traditions in many countries (China, India, Japan, Bali) and pioneered in Poland and throughout Europe in the sixties and seventies, known as ‘physical theatre’ and sometimes ‘third theatre’. As a discipline it lies somewhere between dance and…
Swish! Pow! Whack! Teaching Onomatopoeia through Sports Poetry
Students explore different poems written about sports by reading and listening, looking closely at the use of onomatopoeia in each piece. After a discussion of the poems, students view a segment of a sporting event and generate a list of sounds used in that event. Using their lists as a…
Earth Verse: Using Science in Poetry
This lesson is a great way to teach both scientific and English content to a class, although the teacher can easily choose another book and subject area. In this lesson, students listen to poems in the book Science Verse by Jon Scieszka. Students then create diamante, acrostic, or theme poems…
Poetry Portfolios: Using Poetry to Teach Reading
Students learn to read and write when they have an active interest in what they are reading and writing about. This lesson supports students’ exploration of language skills as they read and dissect poetry. Through a weekly poem, students explore meaning, sentence structure, rhyming words, sight…
Just like learning a language, translating a poem is all about making mistakes and testing the limits of our creativity! In this series of lessons, students try their hand at translating poems from English to French and French to English. Translation is framed as a fun, accessible, and…
Poetry Snapshots: Using Images to Get the Big Idea
Using the definition that image poetry uses “concrete things to describe abstract ideas”, this lesson begins with the idea of haiku as “poetry snapshots”; images of one idea, in three lines. Students begin as “poetry detectives” and investigate collections of traditional and modern haiku to…
This is an introduction to “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe through recitation and drama. It begins with a recitation by the teacher with the students finishing each verse either individually or as a class. The class is divided into groups of 3 and given 2 verses. Their task is to find the meanings…
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…
Poetry and The Odyssey
As they read the Odyssey, students will explore the perspectives of its characters--and particularly its women-- through poetry. In the end, they will work with a partner to write a poem that is a dialogue between two characters. What might Penelope want to say to Circe, for example? Partners…
Poet In Class
Bring a poet into your classroom - for free!
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.
Honey Novick was born on Yorkville Avenue in Toronto, her home base. She is a singer/songwriter/voice teacher as well as a poet. She directs the Creative Vocalization Studio and facilitates groups at the Secret Handshake Gallery (Voice Yoga), creative writing at the Diane Frankling Cooperative, and artist resource at the Friendly Spike Theatre Band. She is active on Facebook and her website is www.honeynovick.com. She states that “Poetry that speaks to me, as in lyrics, or sounds or philosophy, is my preferance. Poetry that tells stories and gives me perspective and changes me and touches me is what I seek. I love the poetry of Daisaku Ikeda, Kazuko Shiraishi, bill bissett, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, June Clifton, nikki giovanni, Joy Harjo, John Trudell, Mary Oliver, Shel Silverstein, the poetry of the Song of Solomon and many many unsung poets, people in the community who value the language of the poetic soul.”
Tim Murphy grew up in North Carolina and attended Eckerd College in St.Petersburg, Florida. He immigrated to Canada in 1978. He worked briefly as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and began publishing poetry. In the 1980s he started a construction company, building many houses in Nova Scotia, then moved to Alberta in 1992 where he continued his constrution career until retiring in 2016. His poetry has appeared in a varitey of journals and anthologies and has been translated into Greek and Chinese. His chapbook Up Cape Fear was published in April, 2019 and is available through lulu.com. He is the current poet laureate of Canmore, Alberta.
Linda Besner is a journalist and poet from Wakefield, Quebec, who lives in Toronto. She received a Writers’ Trust of Canada Best Emerging Writer Award, and her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazineand The Walrus. Her high-energy style draws on inventive formalism, and she often employs "nonce forms," in which the poet creates their own rules for a one-off poetic experiment. She has created forms in which words are spelled backwards; in which lines are mistranslated from French to English and English to French; and in which letters are assembled according to their colour in the Fisher Price fridge magnet set. Her often funny poems might be about Helen Keller, Montreal street names, cartwheels, or cognitive science. Her influences include the poetic experimentation of France’s Oulipo group. Her most recent book, Feel Happier in Nine Seconds, is at https://chbooks.com/Books/F/Feel-Happier-in-9-Seconds4and she is on Twitter at @lindabesner.
Sheniz Janmohamed (MFA) is a firm believer in fostering community through collaboration, compassion and creativity. In her own practice, she strives to embody words through performance, nature art and writing. A poet, artist-educator and land artist, Sheniz has performed her work in venues across the world, including the Jaipur Literature Festival, Alliance Française de Nairobi and the Aga Khan Museum. Sheniz visits dozens of schools and community organisations each year to teach, perform, and inspire creativity in youth, adults and seniors. Her writing has been published in a variety of publications, including Quill & Quire and Canadian Literature. Sheniz is also the author of three collections of poetry: Bleeding Light (Mawenzi House, 2010) Firesmoke (Mawenzi House, 2014) and Reminders on the Path (2021). She is deeply influenced by poetry from the Zen and Sufi traditions.
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
Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews
Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews has written seven collections of poetry: The Whispers of Stones, Sea Glass, The Red Accordion, Letters from the Singularity, A Jar of Fireflies, Sunrise Over Lake Ontario and Meta Stasis. Nature and one's place in it, as well as memory and social justice, are her muses. Her poems "The Red Accordion" and "Emerald City" were shortlisted for Descant's Winston Collins Best Canadian Poem Prize and The Malahat Review's Open Seasons Award respectively. In 2015, her poem "Ghost" received first prize in Big Pond Rumours Journal Contest. Josie is the author of two non-fiction books: How The Italians Created Canada and In the Name of Hockey. She is the host and coordinator of The Oakville Literary Cafe Series. Josie lives, teaches, and writes in Oakville, Ontario.
Leanne Dunic (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist, curator, editor, teacher, and writer. She is the author of trans-media projects such as To Love the Coming End (Book*hug/Chin Music Press 2017) and The Gift (Book*hug 2019), and most recently, a poetic memoir with music entitled One and Half of You (Talonbooks 2021). Her work explores identity and culturally diverse narratives and has been described as genre-fluid, experimental, poignant, provocative, elegant, and brutal. She loves reading/writing poetry that pushes boundaries in both form and content. Some of her favourite poets include Sarah de Leeuw, Souvankham Thammavongsa, and Rena Priest. A graduate of UBC’s Creative Writing MFA program, Leanne is the leader of the band The Deep Cove, an editorial board member for fine.press, and the fiction editor at Tahoma Literary Review. She has taught at UBC and currently teaches at SFU’s The Writer’s Studio. Leanne writes on the unceded and occupied traditional territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and səl̓il̓wətaʔł (Tsleil-Waututh) people. www.leannedunic.com
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!
Mercedes Xue mei Eng is a prairie-born poet living on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Eng’s creative practice combines experiential knowledge, community organizing, independent study, and a hybrid poetics that deploys multiple forms of language from theory to memoir to official state documents to art and photography. She is the author of Mercenary English, a poem about sex work, violence, and resistance in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood of Vancouver, and Prison Industrial Complex Explodes, winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. my yt mama, documents a childhood lived under white supremacy in Canadian prairies. Her writing has appeared in Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry, Jacket 2, Asian American Literary Review, The Abolitionist, r/ally (No One Is Illegal), and Survaillance and M’aidez (Press Release).
Jason “Blackbird” Selman is a Montréal-born poet, trumpet player and community worker. He is the author The Freedom I Stole (2007, Cumulus Press), Africa As A Dream That Travels Through My Heart (2016, Howl) and co-editor of the poetry anthology Talking Book (2006, Cumulus Press), which chronicles the writings of Kalm Unity Vibe Collective (of which he is a founding member). He has done extensive poetry workshops across the Montréal area in schools and community groups. His work is grounded in the themes of ethno-musicology, surrealist expression, love and the intersection of masculinity and emotional vulnerability.
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.
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.