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
Poetry from Science!
Poetry and science are not usually things that we put together in the same sentence, let alone the same lesson at school. But there are many reasons why we should! Science, even when it adheres to rigorous methods, is a creative process, and scientists are very imaginative people! In addition,…
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…
Letter Poems Deliver: Experimenting with Line Breaks in Poetry Writing
Letter poems are a particularly apt medium for exploring a defining characteristic of poetry—line breaks. As students work to transform narrative-style letters into poetic format, they are forced to think carefully about where to end each line. Students begin by discussing letters they have…
Rap a Tap Tap – Expression through Music, Movement and Drama
This lesson can be used for students ranging from Grades 1-6 (with modifications that apply to Kindergarten and Grades 7-8). It incorporates music, dance and movement, and drama with poetry to help students learn how to portray different emotions through various art forms. It also provides…
Slipping, Sliding, Tumbling: Reinforcing Cause and Effect through Diamante Poems
Combine higher order thinking with creativity in this lesson that uses diamante poems to illustrate the phenomenon of cause and effect. Students define and identify instances of cause and effect to help them generate their own examples. After practicing the diamante format in a shared writing…
To many students, the word “ballad” will call to mind a slow, probably sentimental song. In the world of poetry, however, a ballad is a lively storytelling poem written in what is called the ballad stanza. The ballad stanza is simple to illustrate and recognize, and is not difficult to describe. 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…
What Is Poetry?
An excellent way to gauge student attitudes towards and experiences with poetry is to begin your poetry unit by asking students to define what poetry is to them in their own words. Invite students to express their own views on poetry by asking them to complete the sentence: “Poetry is …” or “…
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…
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…
Developing Oral Language and Vocabulary through Poetry
In this unit I have noted variations for students in grades three to grade seven. There are many ways you can begin but here is an example that has worked with my class. You will find a list of resources I have used for ideas about slam poetry, eg: Sara Holbrook and poems by Larry Swartz, Sheree…
Poet In Class
Bring a poet into your classroom - for free!
Michael Prior is a writer and teacher. His most recent book of poems, Burning Province (McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House, 2020), won the Canada-Japan Literary Award and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize from the BC and Yukon Book Prizes. He is also the author of Model Disciple (Signal Editions/Véhicule Press, 2016), which was named one of the best books of the year by the CBC. Michael is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, the Jerome Foundation, and the Amy Clampitt Residency. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies across North America and the UK, including Poetry, The New Republic, The Kenyon Review, Poetry Daily, the Asian American Writers' Workshop's The Margins, PN Review, Global Poetry Anthology (2015 and 2020), and the Academy of American Poets' Poem-A-Day series. Michael holds graduate degrees from the University of Toronto and Cornell University. He teaches at Macalester College.
The first diary entry Vanessa Moeller’s mother wrote about her reads, “Vanessa wrote on the white wall with a red marker.” It was a portent of things to come. Since that fateful day, she’s been writing and drawing and is committed to literacy and the arts. While her poetry tends to gravitate towards free verse, she has dabbled in ghazals, sonnets, and ekphrastic poetry. She also translates poems from German to English, especially the works of Hilde Domin. Her work explores themes of language, time, memory, travel, immigrant identity, art, and the challenges of translation. Her influences include Karen Connelly, Michael Ondaatje, Allan Cooper, Pablo Neruda, and Federico Garcia Lorca. Her work has appeared in numerous periodicals and has won several awards, including the Atlantic Poetry Prize and an honourable mention at the 2010 National Magazine Awards. Her first poetry collection, Our Extraordinary Monsters, was published by Signature Editions.
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
Puneet Dutt’s collection The Better Monsters (Mansfield Press, 2017) was a Finalist for the 2018 Trillium Book Award For Poetry, was shortlisted for the 2018 Raymond Souster Award, and was named one of “Ontario’s Best Books” in 2018 by NOW Magazine. Her poems have appeared in Canadian Literature, World Literature Today, and in the anthology Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. Her chapbook PTSD south beach was a Finalist for the Breitling Chapbook Prize. She holds a MA in English from Ryerson University. Much of Dutt's poetry contains elements of narrative, interweaving elements of journalism, news, history, and is in dialogue with and can be read alongside other literary works, such as theory. Her subjects are often historical figures or events that have been largely left out of history textbooks. Themes of immigration, alienation, war, cultural memory, history, and violence often surface in her work.
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.
Elee Kraljii Gardiner
Elee Kraljii Gardiner’s first book of poems, serpentine loop (Anvil Press, 2016), nominated for the 2017 Raymond Souster Award, handles physicality and the body while considering gender and other social issues. Her second book, the long poem memoir Trauma Head (Anvil Press, 2018), which won the Cogswell Award for Literary Excellence and was shortlisted for the Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry and nominated for the Souster Award, also concerns the body but from a medical perspective. She is coeditor with John Asfour of V6A: Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2012), shortlisted for the 2012 City of Vancouver Book Award, and editor of Against Death: 35 Essays on Living (Anvil Press, 2019), a finallist for the Montaigne Medal and Hoffer Grand Prize. She is also the author of three chapbooks: Residence, WATCHER with Gary Barwin, and Trauma Head: the medical file. She is a recipient of the Lina Chartrand Award for Social Justice and the Pandora’s Collective BC Writer Mentor Award. She holds an MA in Hispanic Studies from the University of British Columbia and an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Elee is interested inter-genre texts that combine memoir, documentary and poetry of witness and is a frequent collaborator with writers, choreographers, visual artists, and musicians. She also has a practice of visual and sound poetics and is interested in nature-based installations. She has been busy reading Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Joan Naviyuk Kane, Anne Carson, and Bhanu Kapil. Originally from Boston, Elee lives on the traditional and unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Peoples, where she works at Vancouver Manuscript Intensive. eleekg.com
Dominik Parisien is a disabled, bisexual French Canadian who lives in Toronto. He is the author of the poetry collection Side Effects May Include Strangers (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2020) and the chapbook We, Old Young Ones (Frog Hollow Press, 2019). His work has appeared in Maisonneuve, The Fiddlehead, The Literary Review of Canada, PRISM International, and elsewhere. He co-edited several anthologies, including the Hugo Award-winning Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction. He is also an Associate Prose Editor at Plenitude Magazine, an instructor with InkWell Workshops, and he has worked on various magazines and editorial projects, including The FOLD (Festival of Literary Diversity). His work has a particular focus on the lived experience of disability and chronic illness.
Laura Farina is the author of two full-length books of poetry, Some Talk of Being Human (Mansfield Press, 2014) and This Woman Alphabetical (Pedlar Press, 2005), as well as the chapbook Diagnostic Tool (Gaspereau Press, 2017). Her picture book, This is the Path the Wolf Took, was published by Kids Can Press in 2020. Laura is the recipient of the Archibald Lampman Award, and has appeared on the longlist for both the ReLit Award and the CBC Poetry Prize. Her poetry is interested in the surreal details — mysterious telephone calls, all kinds of weather, half-full jars of mayo — that make up our everyday lives. Laura grew up in Ottawa and gradually made her way west. She now lives in Vancouver, where she coordinates arts programs, facilitates writers’ workshops and hangs out with her husband and son.
Stephen Kent Roney
SAINT JOHN, NB
Stephen Kent Roney was born long ago in roughly the part of Canada Al Purdy calls “the country of defeat”; transported in youth to Montreal, where he briefly took the same route home from school as Breavman in Cohen’s "The Favourite Game." Since then he’s slept around: Kingston, Syracuse, Toronto, Wuhan, Seoul, Cebu, Athabasca, Kamloops, Al Ain, Doha, Chonan, Jubail. In most of those places, he taught English; having been burned by the fires of the academic inquisition to the third degree. He maintains fiercely that the proper medium of poetry is memory; or at least he thinks he used to think so. This explains everything. Canadian poetry is about the life of everyman. Influences are William Kurelek, Andy Warhol, Blake, Coleridge, Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot, Leonard Cohen, Irving Layton, Al Purdy, Lewis Carroll, Jack Kirby, and Rene Descartes. In most circumstances, he does not speak of himself in the third person.
New Germany, NS
Alison Smith is the author of three books of poetry and one chapbook from Gaspereau Press. Her most recent collection, This Kind of Thinking Does No Good, was awarded the 2019 J.M. Abraham Award for Atlantic Poetry and shortlisted for the 2020 Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award. She has written for radio, the stage, and has taught poetry workshops in prison, schools and other community settings. Alison's poetry is by turns confessional, surreal, and gothic, confronting the realities of contemporary rural life with humour and courage. Alison also makes analog collages.
Nancy Jo Cullen
Nancy Jo Cullen is the author of three collections of poetry published with Frontenac House and her fourth collection, Nothing Will Save Your Life, was published by Wolsak and Wynn in 2022. Her poems have been published in such journals as Grain, The Puritan, Room, Arc Magazine and Best Canadian Poetry. As a young person she discovered her love of poetry through the work of such writers as Frank O'Hara, Bronwen Wallace and Michael Ondjaatje and she was delighted to be short-listed for the very first Bronwen Wallace Award for emerging writers in 1994. She continues to be inspired by work that is at once deeply personal and political.
Dorothy Mahoney is the author of several poetry collections including, Off-Leash (Palimpsest Press, 2016) and The Inevitable (Red Moon Press, 2022). Her poetry has been included in numerous anthologies, most recently Heartwood, poems for the love of trees (The League of Canadian Poets, 2018). Her haibun, “M PATHY”, won an Honourable Mention in the Genjuan International Haibun Contest in Japan, 2017. She is particularly intrigued by compressed forms and admires the prose poems of Tom Hennen and Robert Bly. She was able to attend workshops given by Patrick Lane, an inspirational source. A retired English and Creative Writing high school teacher, she has given workshops to teachers and writers at all levels. A volunteer with Hospice in Windsor, she has helped people write life stories. She often spends time on Manitoulin Island with her family and an Old English Sheepdog.
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.