Toronto, November 23, 2010 – This morning, Scott Griffin, founder of The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry, announced the launch of Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie, a national bilingual poetry recitation contest combining the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theatre with the study of great literature in the high school classroom. A total of $10,000 in awards and school stipends will be awarded in 2011 alone.
Addressing an audience of poets, publishers, educators, and members of the media, Scott Griffin commented: “Poetry is not just for the elite — it is a language that should be spoken in the cafés, the streets, and especially the classrooms of the nation.”
Speaking alternately in English and French, Scott and Krystyne Griffin went on to introduce Creative Director Damian Rogers, a published poet and journalist, Sepideh Anvar, Project Manager for Québec, and the esteemed Québec poet Pierre Nepveu. The recipient of three Governor General’s Awards, Pierre Nepveu won the prestigious Prix Athanase-David Award, honouring his body of work, in 2005.
Damian Rogers, who chose the English poems, and Pierre Nepveu, who chose the French poems, are developing an online anthology of previously published works from which contestants will make their selections. The bilingual aspect of the contest encourages both English- and French-speaking students to explore the rich literary history of Canada’s two official languages. Though students are not required to perform poems in both languages, they will receive extra points for bilingual recitations, where they recite at least one of the three poems they prepare in their second language.
Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie has already launched a Pilot Program involving 12 Ontario schools, as follows:
The contest uses a pyramid structure that begins at the classroom level. Winners will advance to the school-wide competition, then to the Pilot Finals on April 12, 2011, at a downtown theatre in Toronto. The expectation is that the program will expand in 2012 to include all of Ontario and Quebec, and branch out to schools across the country in 2013.
The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry was founded in April 2000 by Chairman Scott Griffin, along with Trustees Margaret Atwood, Carolyn Forché, Robert Hass, Michael Ondaatje, Robin Robertson, and David Young.