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Albert Schultz explains the rules

Poetry In Voice is open to high schools across Canada and to CEGEPs in Quebec. Competitors must be aged 18 or younger by September 30, 2015.



  • Students must be attending a school in Canada.
  • No student may be excluded from participation in this competition on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin.
  • Schools may determine eligibility for classroom- and school-level Poetry In Voice contests pursuant to local law.


  • All competitors must be aged 18 or younger by September 30, 2015. Students must be in grades 9–12. In Quebec, students must be in secondary III, IV, V, or in CEGEP.

  • Homeschooled students must make arrangements to compete at a participating high school in their area.

  • A teacher must register with Poetry In Voice in order for students at their school to participate in the Online Semifinals and National Finals and win prizes.
  • A school can have one, two, or three students compete in the Online Semifinals; that is, one student in each prize stream: English, Bilingual, and French. 
  • A student can only compete in one prize stream in a given year.
  • A National Champion (a student who places first in the English, French, or Bilingual stream) is not eligible to compete in the same prize stream in subsequent years.


  • All poems must be selected from the Poetry In Voice / Les voix de la poesie anthology.
  • A student who is competing in the English or the French prize stream at the Online Semifinals or the National Finals must meet the following criteria with their three chosen poems:
    1. One must be 25 lines or shorter
    2. One must be written before the 20th century

One of a student’s three poems can be used to meet both criteria.

  • Students competing in the Bilingual prize stream must select two poems:
    1. One poem in English
    2. One poem in French

No other criteria govern that student’s poem selections.


  • Poems must be memorized and recited as they appear in the Poetry In Voice / Les voix de la poesie anthology, including any epigraphs.
  • A student must start their recitation by saying the title of the poem and the poet’s name. A student’s editorial comments before or after a poem are not allowed.
  • The titles and the order of students’ poems must be given in advance to the contest coordinators. Students may not change them once they are submitted.
  • Students recite their poems in rounds: each student recites their first poem, then each student recites their second poem, and then, in some cases, their third poem.


  • Students’ recitations must be assessed according to the Poetry In Voice evaluation criteria, and students must be assigned an accuracy score at every level of the contest.
  • Accuracy judges must evaluate students’ recitations against the poems as they appear on our website.
  • Judges should not convene to discuss performances. Rankings will be based solely on evaluation sheets submitted by judges.
  • Judges may not reconsider their scores after submitting them.
  • Scoring is cumulative. The scores from all rounds should be added together to determine the winner.
  • In the event of a tie, the tied student with the highest overall performance score should win; if that also results in a tie, then look to the highest accuracy score.