2021 Junior Online Finals Judges

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We're very excited to introduce this year's Junior Online Finals judges. They will evaluate hundreds of video recitations to decide our 2021 Junior Champions.

The winners will be announced on Thursday, January 11.

Serge Agnessan is an Ivorian writer born in Abidjan who has been living in Canada since 2015. In 2014, Agnessan participated in the Berlin International Poetry Festival and has been part of several other festivals in Canada and elsewhere since. He published Carrefour-Samaké with Poètes de brousse in 2018. It was while transitioning through the capital of Belgium that Serge Agnessan began writing the poetry collection we know today: a notebook of a migrant’s impressions wherein he resolves his identity crisis and chooses his affiliations. As a researcher in comparative literature, he is currently writing a thesis on the visual cultures of genocide at the University of Western Ontario. He is particularly interested not in memory, but rather in the denial of memory, in the refusal to remember. He is also fascinated by garbage and the smell of cities.


With a background in visual arts and music, Virginie Beauregard D. launched her first poetry collection Les heures se trompent de but (l'Écrou) in 2010. Five years later, her second collection, D'une main sauvage (l'Écrou), was shortlisted for the Prix Émile-Nelligan. After winning the Prix Jean-Lafrenière-Zénob in 2016, Beauregard D. published Les derniers coureurs (l'Écrou), which was shortlisted for the Prix des Libraires 2019. That same year she also published the youth poetry collection Perruche, which was shortlisted for the Prix Alvine-Belisle 2020. Her poems have been published in anthologies and magazines as well as in exhibitions and in theatrical works. Beauregard D. regularly participates in literary events, small and large, locally and internationally. Her writing moves seamlessly from the concrete to the symbolic, and plunges into the core of human emotions. Her poems, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, tell us about nature, love, and the small and large gestures that make us feel alive. 


Linda Besner is a journalist and poet from Wakefield, Quebec, who lives in Toronto. She received a Writers’ Trust of Canada Best Emerging Writer Award, and her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazineand The Walrus. Her high-energy style draws on inventive formalism, and she often employs "nonce forms," in which the poet creates their own rules for a one-off poetic experiment. She has created forms in which words are spelled backwards; in which lines are mistranslated from French to English and English to French; and in which letters are assembled according to their colour in the Fisher Price fridge magnet set. Her often funny poems might be about Helen Keller, Montreal street names, cartwheels, or cognitive science. Her influences include the poetic experimentation of France’s Oulipo group. Her most recent book, Feel Happier in Nine Seconds, is at https://chbooks.com/Books/F/Feel-Happier-in-9-Seconds4and she is on Twitter at @lindabesner.


For poet, actor and organizer, Liam Coady, artistry — like life itself — is about bringing forces together and making meaningful connections. Liam’s own ability to bring together the physicality, intelligence and expansiveness of stage acting with the candour, potency, and directness of poetry has made him a beloved local performer, and a spoken word poet of uncommon national distinction. Liam is a national team poetry slam champion, a former finalist of the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam, and has been a featured performer at festivals and showcases throughout the country. Liam’s work is special for its ability to foreground the human possibilities for social unity, personal resilience, love, triumph, and enduring hopefulness.


Ruth Daniell is a speech arts teacher, editor, award-winning writer, and the author of The Brightest Thing (Caitlin Press, 2019). Her work engages with fairy tales, feminism, the lived experience of the body, and the complexities of co-existing on a planet with other living beings. Recent work has appeared in Watch Your Head: Writers and Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis (Coach House Press, 2020), Resistance: Righteous Rage in the Age of #MeToo (University of Regina Press, 2021) and on BC’s city buses as part of Poetry in Transit. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (honours) in English literature and writing from the University of Victoria and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. She lives with her family in Kelowna, BC, where she is at work on a new collection of poems about birds, climate change, parenthood, fear, and joy.


Rayanne Haines’s writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from, Fiddlehead, Impact: The Lives of Women After Concussion Anthology, Voicing Suicide Anthology, The Selkie Resiliency Anthology, Freefall, Wax Poetry and Arts, Funicular, and Indefinite Space. Past Executive Director of the Edmonton Poetry Festival, she is the current host of the literary podcast, An Eloquent Bitch and is the Alberta NWT rep for the League of Canadian Poets. Rayanne is a 2019 Edmonton Artist Trust Fund Award recipient. Her poetry and prose have been shortlisted for the Canadian Authors Association Exporting Alberta Award, The Raven Award and the John Whyte Memorial Essay Alberta Literary Award. 

Her artistic practice focuses on projects that look to redeem and empower the female narrative, and the political statement made by those that refuse to. In addition to her writing, teaching and festival work, she also produces/curates intersectional feminist poetry films and panels with authors across Canada. Her current work focuses on mental health and intergenerational female trauma. tell the birds your body is not a gun is forthcoming in 2021 with Frontenac House.

Rayanne is currently enrolled in a Masters of Arts, Festival and Cultural Management program at Queen Margaret University.


Dave Margoshes is a Saskatoon-area writer. He’s appeared six times in Best Canadian Stories and been a Journey Prize finalist. He’s published some twenty books, including six volumes of poetry; the most recent, A Calendar of Reckoning, appeared in 2018. His previous poetry title, Dimensions of an Orchard, won the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Awards Poetry Prize. He’s taught creative writing and led workshops at various locations, and for various age groups. He was writer in residence in Saskatoon in 2001-02 and Winnipeg in 1995-96. For several years, he was involved with Writers in Electronic Residence (WIER), which linked professional writers with high school students via the Internet.

His poetry leans toward the narrative, with an emphasis on detail and concrete imagery. He values precision of language, emotional content and clarity above all else.



Jason “Blackbird” Selman is a Montréal-born poet, trumpet player and community worker. He is the author The Freedom I Stole (2007, Cumulus Press), Africa As A Dream That Travels Through My Heart (2016, Howl) and co-editor of the poetry anthology Talking Book (2006, Cumulus Press), which chronicles the writings of Kalm Unity Vibe Collective (of which he is a founding member). He has done extensive poetry workshops across the Montréal area in schools and community groups. His work is grounded in the themes of ethno-musicology, surrealist expression, love and the intersection of masculinity and emotional vulnerability.



Émilie Turmel was born in Montréal in 1988 and now lives in Moncton, New Brunswick, where she is the director of the Frye Festival. Both poet and performer, she has organized and presented in numerous literary events in Canada and internationally. A number of her poems have been translated into English and Spanish and published in Canada, Colombia, Spain, and France. She was shortlisted for the Prix Émile-Nelligan and won the Prix René-Leynaud (France) for her first book Casse-gueules (Poètes de brousse, 2018). Her second book, Vanités, was published in September 2020. 


Bänoo Zan is a self-exiled poet, librettist, translator, teacher, editor and poetry curator, with numerous published pieces and three books. Songs of Exile was shortlisted for Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Letters to My Father was published in 2017. She uses symbolism, oxymoron and allusions to myth, religion, and culture and has been called a political, metaphysical, and spiritual poet. Zan has been influenced by classic and contemporary Persian poets as well as their counterparts in English, including Hafez, Rumi, Forough Farrokhzad, Ahmad Shamlou, Sohrab Sepehri, Shakespeare, John Donne, Sylvia Plath, and Adrienne Rich. She is the founder of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), Toronto’s most diverse poetry reading and open mic series (inception: 2012). A contract faculty member at Centennial College, she teaches ESL and English to international and domestic students.


2021 Junior Online Finals Judges
2021 Junior Online Finals Judges