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Albert Schultz explains the rules

Poetry In Voice is open to secondary schools across Canada, as well as CEGEPs in Quebec.

Below you will find all the rules governing the Poetry In Voice competition. 



  • Step 1: Students memorize and recite one poem in the classroom.
  • Step 3: School champions advance to the Online Semifinals. A school may have one champion in each prize stream (English, Bilingual, French).
  • Step 4: The final stage of the competition is the National Finals in the spring.


  • Students must be in grades 9-12 or their equivalent.
  • In Quebec, students must be in secondary III, IV, or V, or in CEGEP.
  • A teacher must register with Poetry In Voice in order for students at his/her school to be eligible to participate in the Online Semifinals and National Finals.
  • Students must win their school competition before progressing to the Online Semifinals and National Finals. In the event that a school champion is unable to submit a recitation video, the runner-up from that prize stream would advance.
  • Individual students may compete for only one prize. Schools, however, may present one student for each prize.
  • Homeschooled students must make arrangements to compete at a participating high school in their area.
  • National Champions (students who placed first in the English, French, or Bilingual prize stream) are not eligible to compete in the same stream in subsequent years.


  • All poems must be selected from the Poetry In Voice anthology. The anthology includes poems written both in English and in French.
  • At the Online Semifinals and the National Finals, students competing in the English and French prize streams must meet the following criteria with their poem selections:
    1. one must be 25 lines or shorter
    2. one must be written before the 20th century

The same poem may be used to fulfil both requirements.

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

Their selections are not governed by any other criteria.


  • Poems must be recited from memory.
  • Recitations must include epigraphs if included in the online anthology.
  • A student must say the title of the poem and the poet’s name before each recitation. A student’s editorial comments before or after a poem are not allowed.
  • At the classroom-level contest, students must recite one poem.
  • At the school-level contest, students must recite two poems.
  • For the Online Semifinals, students must submit three separate recitation videos to compete in the English or French prize categories; students competing in the Bilingual prize category only submit two recitation videos.
  • At the National Finals, students must be prepared to recite three poems to compete in the English and French prize category. Students competing in the Bilingual prize category must have two poems prepared, one in English and one in French.
  • Students recite their poems in rounds.


  • Schools must hold a competition to select their champion.
  • Students' recitations must be evaluated according to the Poetry In Voice evaluation criteria.
  • There must be an Accuracy Judge present at all contests to assess the accuracy of recitations.
  • 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.
  • Judges should not convene to discuss performances. Rankings will be based solely on score sheets submitted by judges.
  • School competitions generally consist of two rounds and may consist of up to three rounds.
  • Judges may not reconsider their scores after submitting them.
  • Schools must submit their student champion’s recitation videos, filmed according to Poetry In Voice specifications, before the deadline in order to be considered for the National Finals.
  • Poetry In Voice grand prizes are awarded only at the National Finals.