2019 National Finals


Welcome Dinner and Mic Check

The 24 Semifinalists, their chaperones, and Poetry In Voice staff and volunteers gather for supper at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Winnipeg on Tuesday evening. Winnipeg teachers Tannis Francis and Vindra Jain chat with Poetry In Voice founder Scott Griffin. Semifinalists Clara Sismondo, Cyrena Fiel, Mathilde Eustache, and Larissa Dushime enjoy dessert before the information session. David Smith and Catherine Cormier-Larose fill everyone in on the exciting details of the week ahead (in English et en français, bien sûr).
The group walks to the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Left to right: Volunteers Maya Chariandy and Arwen Low, Semifinalists Nahida Mohamadou, Mathilde Eustache, Jenny Wang, Laure Poitras, and Ghada Charki. Semifinalists Troy Chea, Larissa Dushime, and Keagan Yap are excited for a quick tour of the gallery and their microphone check in the auditorium. The 2019 Semifinalists stop along the way for a photo in front of the Manitoba Legislative Building on Broadway. The students get a sense of the stage in the Muriel Richardson Auditorium, then each one takes a turn at the mic in anticipation of the Semifinals events the next day.


French Semifinals

First thing on Wednesday morning, we have an enthusiastic audience of students from Winnipeg-area schools. English Stream Semifinalists William Zhang, Matthew Zhou, and Cyrena Fiel are ready to cheer on their fellow Semifinalists in the French Stream. Our French-language judges Michaël Trahan, Lise Gaboury-Diallo, and Pierre Nepveu The six Semifinalists in the French Stream are presented to the audience by host Johanne Blais. Aksa Caleb, Philemon Wright High School, Gatineau, QC Larissa Dushime, St. Joseph's Catholic High School, Windsor, ON Mathilde Eustache, Cégep de Saint-Laurent, Montréal, QC Nahida Mohamadou, Lycee Louis Pasteur, Calgary, AB A behind the scenes look at how our crew films Nahida Mohamadou. Laure Poitras, Cégep du Vieux Montréal, Montréal, QC Perlina Ross-Brown, Collège Jean-Eudes, Montréal, QC


Bilingual Semifinals

After the intermission, the English judges take their seats at the table. Left to right: Cecily Nicholson, Jason Stefanik, and Katherena Vermette. After the intermission, the six Semifinalists in the Bilingual Stream are introduced. Avril Brigden, Alpha Secondary School, Burnaby, BC Ghada Charki, Champlain College, Saint-Lambert, QC Troy Cheah, Dr. Charles Best Secondary School, Coquitlam, BC Alexander Morin, Cardinal Carter Secondary School, Leamington, ON Jenny Wang, Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, Montréal, QC Jenny Wang’s recitation is captured by our cameras. Keagan Yap, St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, Windsor, ON The French and Bilingual Semifinalists gather onstage for the announcement of the students moving on to the National Finals. In the Bilingual Stream: Avril Brigden, Ghada Charki, and Jenny Wang. In the French Stream: Larissa Dushime, Nahida Mohamadou, and Laure Poitras. How nice to lunch next to Norval Morsseau’s painting <em>Androgyny</em> (1983)!


English Semifinals

The 12 Semifinalists in the English Stream Cyrena Fiel, Etobicoke School of the Arts, Etobicoke, ON Berry Genge, Montague Regional High School, Montague, PE Catricia Hiebert, St. Mary’s Catholic School, Sexsmith, AB Mackenzie Hutchinson, Prince of Wales Secondary School, Vancouver, BC Chandra Miller, Dr. Charles Best Secondary School, Coquitlam, BC Nawal Semir, Glenlawn Collegiate, Winnipeg, MB Clara Sismondo, Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Kingston, ON Nina Thach, Kildonan-East Collegiate, Winnipeg, MB Nina Thach recites onscreen Sophia Wilcott, Harbour View High School, Saint John, NB Irene Zhang, Fraser Heights Secondary School, Surrey, BC William Zhang, University of Toronto Schools, Toronto, ON Matthew Zhou, London Central Secondary School, London, ON A peek backstage as Sophia Wilcott recites. Our cameras capture Catricia Hiebert’s recitation. The 12 Semifinalists gather onstage for the announcement of the 3 Finalists: Catricia Hiebert, Nina Thach, Matthew Zhou. The crowd goes wild as the three English Stream Finalists are announced.


Pin It Workshop

Poet Catherine Cormier-Larose and WAG facilitator Sarah LaMontagnerou explain how the workshop and tour will proceed. A student takes in Tony Scherman's encaustic painting called “Simone de Beauvoir” during the workshop. Alexander Morin and Troy Chea discuss art and poetry. A drawing inspired by the surrounding artwork. A moment of inspiration. Nawal Semir in discussion with other students. An excerpt of a poem by Joséphine Bacon on a button. William Zhang and Sophia Wilcott show off the poetry buttons they made. Nahida Mohamadou, Josefina Libre, and Ismaïla Mohamadou end the workshop with Catherine Cormier-Larose.


The Epic Winnipeg Poetry Hunt

The three groups of students and teachers embark on a poetry adventure around Winnipeg! Jason Stefanik, Cecily Nicholson, and Katherena Vermette share Vermette’s poem “pieces” with The Stanza Panache team. Vermette's poem can be found on Portage Avenue and is part of Winnipeg's “Urban Art Gallery. The Stanza Panache team strolls to their next poetry stop. Chimwemwe Undi discusses reversed reality in art and poetry... ...by discussing “The Bisons,” a sculpture by Joe Fafard located in Manitoba Hydro Place. Kristian Enright discusses poetry and Winnipeg's Scottish heritage in front of the statue of poet Robert Burns at the Manitoba Legislative Building. A nice walk to the next stop... J.R. Léveillé discusses franco-manitoban poetry with students and teachers at the Forks Market, beside McNally Robinson bookstore. Lise Gaboury-Diallo presents the Oodena Celebration Circle at the Forks. The Sonnet Stars team in discussion. The Snowflakes Suite team presents their poem inspired by the Oodena Celebration Circle.


National Finals Show

The Jared Beckstead-Craan Trio warms up the crowd. Our hosts, writer & poet J.R. Léveillé and broadcaster & poet Rosanna Deerchild, welcome the audience. Poet Bathélemy Bolivar reads an excerpt from judge Michaël Trahan’s book, <em>La raison des fleurs</em>, which won the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in French. Chimwemwe Undi reads from judge Cecily Nicholson’s book <em>Wayside Sang</em>, which won the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in English. Matthew Zhou recites “But I'm No One” by Weyman Chan. Laure Poitras recites « Nous » by Geneviève Desrosiers. Larissa Dushime recites « Ici vit… » by Tanella Boni. Ghada Charki recites « Les poètes boivent des martinis » by Carole David. Jenny Wang recites “Poor Speaker” by Sonnet L'Abbé. Avril Brigden recites « Ce ne sont pas mains de géants » by Paul Éluard. Nahida Mohamadou recites « Je ne sais pourquoi… » by Paul Verlaine. Nina Thach recites “My Brother at 3 A.M.” by Natalie Diaz. Catricia Hiebert recites “A History of Houses Built Out of Spite” by Chimwemwe Undi. The 15 Semifinalists are invited to join the 9 Finalists onstage. The Honourable Rochelle Squires and Winnipeg Poet Laureate Di Brandt present an award to each student. Cyrena Fiel receives her plaque. Minister Squires and Di Brandt present a trophy to each champion. Ghada Charki receives the first prize in the Bilingual Stream. Nahida Mohamadou receives the first prize in the French Stream. Catricia Hiebert receives the first prize in the English Stream. Scott and Krystyne Griffin, founders of Poetry In Voice / Les voix de la poésie, close the show. Our judges (l to r) Katherena Vermette, Jason Stefanik, Cecily Nicholson, Pierre Nepveu, Lise Gaboury-Diallo, and Michaël Trahan are ready for the after-party...



Author David Chariandy and Cecily Nicholson have a chat. Teacher Vindra Jain (left), Keeshan Jain (centre), and poet Ariel Gordon (right) It's time to celebrate for teacher Trisha Burrows, Director of Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie David Smith, Founding Director Damian Rogers, and Poetry Coordinator for Les voix de la poésie Catherine Cormier-Larose. Damian Rogers and Catherine Cormier-Larose chat with a guest at our McNally Robinson book table. Robert-Falcon Ouellette (far right), MP for Winnipeg Centre, enjoys the evening with fellow guests. From left to right: Chandra Miller, Berry Genge, Clara Sismondo, Aksa Caleb, Nawal Semir, David Smith, Alexander Morin, Mackenzie Hutchinson, and Irene Zhang Johanne Blais discusses poetry with Ghada Charki. Damian Rogers and Catherine Cormier-Larose host the cabaret. Cyrena Fiel sings an original song. Laure Poitras reads an original poem. And the students dance the night away. Thanks Winnipeg!