Wednesday April 18th, 2012
The Poetry In Voice 2012 Grand Finals were a huge success this evening. Nine Provincial Champions from Ontario and Quebec recited poems by Louis Aragon, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William Shakespeare in front of an audience of hundreds of poets and poetry-lovers at the Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto. Among the literary and cultural who’s who in the audience were the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo. Albert Schultz, founding artistic director of Soulpepper theatre, emceed year two of the Grand Finals with his usual brio and humour.
Students took the stage in turns to recite poems in English and French before a panel of judges that included some of Canada’s best poets. The judges were Gaston Bellemare, Dionne Brand, Nicole Brossard, Dennis Lee, Pierre Nepveu, and Karen Solie. All enjoyed listening to poems by a wide-range of poets drawn from the Poetry In Voice online anthology and including “Jack Would Speak Through the Imperfect Medium of Alice” by Alice Notley and “Danse Russe” by William Carlos Williams.
First prize was awarded to Alexander Gagliano from Upper Canada College. He takes home a grand prize of $5,000, and an additional $2,500 for his school library for his recitation of “The Flea” by John Donne, “Chapter I” by Christian Bök, and “Journey of the Magi” by T.S. Eliot. Sydney Gilchrist from London Central Secondary School placed second, winning $1,000 and $500 for her school to purchase poetry books, while third place finalist Jeff Hunt from St. John’s-Kilmarnock School won $500 and an additional $500 for his school.
Pierre Nepveu, editor of the anthology in French, took to the stage early in the evening to discuss his selection of poems and his role in the program.
Scott Griffin, founder of both Poetry In Voice and The Griffin Trust For Excellence in Poetry was on stage to congratulate the winners. He spoke about the enduring value of poetry and also noted that the contest was now open to secondary schools across all of Canada and invited teachers everywhere to start reading poetry with their students.