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  • Got five minutes?

    Start with one of these 9 popular Canadian poems.
    Choose your favourite, give your students a copy of the poem, and screen a recitation video. Discuss the poem using our guided questions at the bottom of the poem’s page.

  • How about an hour?

    Let your students find their favourite poem using our website.

  • What about a week?

    Your students can experience their favourite poem through recitation, reading, or writing.

  • Or even a semester?

    Immerse your students in poetry and have them compete in one of our recitation contests.

Tide

Both stark and tender, this poem is about Reena Virk, a BC teen of South Asian descent who was assaulted and murdered by her peers in 1997.

Tide
Soraya Peerbaye

Common Magic

Do you ever wonder how anything gets done when we’re all swirling in our own galaxies of thought and experience? This poem does too.

Common Magic
Bronwen Wallace

mixed tape

Punctuated by 90s song titles, this poem about a missing teen has a Side A and Side B.

mixed tape
Katherena Vermette

I've Tasted My Blood

In this thunderous poem, the speaker proclaims his rage, anguish, and hope in the face of war and oppression.

I've Tasted My Blood
Milton Acorn

i am graffiti

This poem vibrates with anger and defiance in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

i am graffiti
Leanne Simpson

From Red Doc

In this poem-as-a-conversation, a man and his mother consider how the past lives on in the present.

From Red Doc
Anne Carson

Echolalia

Exploring the tension between desire and satisfaction, this is “a poem that you have to kiss your way through without being kissed,” says Williams.

Echolalia
Ian Williams

From thirsty

In this delicate and brutal poem, the line between the speaker’s body and the city of Toronto blurs.

From thirsty
Dionne Brand

Plenty

Who would have thought a trip to the grocery store could be so full of beauty?

Plenty
Kevin Connolly
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Writing Workshop
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Use our four-week writing workshop or The Daily Poet writing prompts to encourage students to become poets themselves.

Lesson Plans

Customize your poetry unit with our lesson plans — search by grade, skills, and subjects to find exactly what you need.

Tide

Soraya Peerbaye

Would I have seen her?

 

The tide tugging her gently past

the Comfort Inn; houses, tall and gabled,

the bridge and its passersby.

This is not a hidden place.

 

The graze and drag of her,

clumsy, obstructive in the divided

caress of eelgrass.

 

No search. Eight days.

Nights,

the moon returned, made chalk tracings around her shape.

 

Common Magic

Bronwen Wallace

Your best friend falls in love

and her brain turns to water.

You can watch her lips move,

making the customary sounds

but you can see they’re merely

words, flimsy as bubbles rising

from some golden sea where she

swims sleek and exotic as a mermaid.

 

It’s always like that.

You stop for lunch in a crowded

restaurant and the waitress floats

toward you. You can tell she doesn’t care

whether you have the baked or french-fried

and you wonder if your voice comes

in bubbles too.

 

It’s not just women either. Or love

for that matter. The old man

across from you on the bus holds

a young child on his knee; he is singing

to her and his voice is a small boy

turning somersaults in the green

country of his blood.

It’s only when the driver calls his stop

that he emerges into this puzzle

of brick and tiny hedges. Only then

you notice his shaking hands, his need

of the child to guide him home.

 

All over the city

you move in your own seasons

through the seasons of others: old women, faces

clawed by weather you can’t feel

clack dry tongues at passersby

while adolescents seethe

in their glassy atmospheres of anger.

 

In parks, the children

are alien life-forms, rooted

in the galaxies they’ve grown through

to get here. Their games weave

the interface and their laughter

tickles that part of your brain where smells

are hidden and the nuzzling textures of things.

 

It’s a wonder that anything gets done

at all: a mechanic flails

at the muffler of your car

through whatever storm he’s trapped inside

and the mailman stares at numbers

from the haze of a distant summer.

 

Yet somehow letters arrive and buses

remember their routes. Banks balance.

Mangoes ripen on the supermarket shelves.

Everyone manages. You gulp the thin air

of this planet as if it were the only

one you knew. Even the earth you’re

standing on seems solid enough.

Its always the chance word, unthinking

gesture that unlocks the face before you.

Reveals the intricate countries

deep within the eyes. The hidden

lives, like sudden miracles,

that breathe there.

mixed tape

Katherena Vermette

side a:

 

 

1. 18 and Life

her friend takes her to

the guidance counselor

she doesn’t see the point

but her friend won’t go

without her

 

2. Patience

the dining room table

stacked with papers

her brother’s face

on all of them

like labels

on cans of soup

 

3. Long Cold Winter

his football team 

organizes a search party

scruffy boys in

orange jerseys climb

snow banks

along the river

north

all the way to

lockport

 

4. Without You

she is as still as silence

jolts every time

the phone rings

 

5. More than Words

the family sliced into wedges

like pie

 

6. Don’t Know What You Got

the cold

wet

quiet

when

everyone else

leaves

 

 

side b:

 

 

7. Nothing Else Matters

the family goes to two psychics

and an elder

 

8. Every Rose has Its Thorn

one says he will call soon

one says he is dead

 

one says he is

traveling 

north

 

9. What You Give

words

evaporate

condense

in the air

 

drip

down

walls

 

10. Don’t Cry

her stepfather

tells everyone

his son is

dead

 

and he isn’t going to look

anymore

 

11. Home Sweet Home

her mother moves

wide and slow

almost imperceptible

limbs floating

as if in water

 

12. November Rain

the girl walks under

winter naked elms

such a cold november

a season warmer

than her house

 

I've Tasted My Blood

Milton Acorn

If this brain’s over-tempered

consider that the fire was want

and the hammers were fists.

I’ve tasted my blood too much

to love what I was born to.

 

But my mother’s look

was a field of brown oats, soft-bearded;

her voice rain and air rich with lilacs:

and I loved her too much to like

how she dragged her days like a sled over gravel.

 

Playmates? I remember where their skulls roll!

One died hungry, gnawing grey perch-planks;

one fell, and landed so hard he splashed;

and many and many

come up atom by atom

in the worm-casts of Europe.

 

My deep prayer a curse.

My deep prayer the promise that this won’t be.

My deep prayer my cunning,

my love, my anger,

and often even my forgiveness

that this won’t be and be.

I’ve tasted my blood too much 

to abide what I was born to.

i am graffiti

Leanne Simpson

i am writing to tell you

that yes, indeed,

we have noticed

you have a new big pink eraser

we are well aware

you are trying to use it.

erasing indians is a good idea

of course

the bleeding-heart liberals

and communists

can stop feeling bad

for the stealing

and raping

and murdering

and we can all move on

we can be reconciled

except, i am graffiti.

except, mistakes were made.

she painted three white Xs

on the wall of the grocery store.

one. two. three.

then they were erased.

except, i am graffiti.

except, mistakes were made.

the Xs were made out of milk

because they took our food.

one. two. three.

then we were erased.

except, i am graffiti.

except, mistakes were made.

we are the singing remnants

left over after

the bomb went off in slow motion

over a century instead of a fractionated second

it’s too much to process, so we make things instead

we are the singing remnants

left over after

the costumes have been made

collected up

put in a plastic bag, full of intentions

for another time

another project.

except, i am graffiti.

and mistakes were made.

From Red Doc

Anne Carson

GOODLOOKING BOY wasn’t he / yes/ blond /

yes / I do vaguely

/ you never liked

him / bit of a

rebel / so you

said / he’s the

one wore lizard

pants and

 

pearls to graduation / which at the time you admired /

they were good pearls /

you said he reminded you

of

 

your friend Mildred / Mildred taught me everything I

know she taught me how

to entertain / you must

miss

 

her / I miss her martinis [stubs cigarette] so what’s he

up to now / just got out of

the army / wounded /

 

messed up / are they giving him care / a guy shows

up with a padded envelope

of drugs every night I

guess

 

it’s care / he staying with you / for a while / behaving

himself / some days he sits

around reading Christina

 

Rossetti some days he comes out of the bathroom

covered in camouflage

paint / keep him away

from

 

your herd / did I tell you I finished Proust / oh yes /

seven years / can you

reach me

 

those matches behind you / reading it every day /

thanks / was like having

an extra unconscious /

well I’m

 

not fond of those multivolume things / there’s the

part where he’s comparing

his Tante Léonie to a

waterlily /

 

she’s a swimmer / no she’s a neurasthenic / I don’t get

it / well she’s old nervous

lives in a single room

trapped in her little

 

train of habits the pills the pains the spying out the

window / hmmm / a

waterlily caught in a

current he

 

says / could be too late for me to appreciate Proust on

the other hand I’m at a loss

I’ve read all the Len

 

Deightons in the library / hundreds of people visit his

home every year some just

burst into tears / Len

 

Deighton / no Proust / say remember that time we

were driving and crashed /

what time / I forget where

it was I

 

was driving no you were driving I was looking out

the window all of a

sudden I thought I saw a

deer racing

 

out a driveway so I start to just then my brain flashes

on it being a wooden lawn

ornament not a real one

 

WATCH OUT FOR THAT WOODEN DEER I

yelled so loud you drove

off the road into a guy’s

hedge and

 

burst into tears [she laughs he laughs] / speaking of

tears / listen [gets out a

cigarette] to that wind /

storm coming / or is it the

traffic / wind I think /

from the north sounds like

/ so your surgery is

scheduled

 

for when / the 25th / you want me to come with you /

no dear / well if you

change your mind / I

won’t

 

change my mind / I can easily / thanks though / well

/ [glances down at her

crossword] I’ll be fine /

well so / time for you to

go / I’ll call on the

weekend / take some of

those apples they’re the

kind you like

Echolalia

Ian Williams

Once one gets what one wants

one no longer wants it.

 

One no longer wants what?

 

One no longer wants what

one wanted.

 

-

 

A man and a woman want a woman and a man

or a man and a woman depending

on the man and the woman.

 

-

 

Once one gets what one wants once

one no longer wants it once

 

then one no longer wants it at all.

 

-

 

Yes then no. Yes and no? No.

Yes then no then yes and always

after yes comes no. Never always

yes, but always no. Always know

after yes comes no.

 

-

 

One wants what one wants

not what one wanted.

From thirsty

Dionne Brand

This city is beauty

unbreakable and amorous as eyelids,

in the streets, pressed with fierce departures,

submerged landings,

I am innocent as thresholds

and smashed night birds, lovesick,

as empty elevators

 

let me declare doorways,

corners, pursuit, let me say

standing here in eyelashes, in

invisible breasts, in the shrinking lake

in the tiny shops of untrue recollections,

the brittle, gnawed life we live,

I am held, and held

 

the touch of everything blushes me,

pigeons and wrecked boys,

half-dead hours, blind musicians,

inconclusive women in bruised dresses

even the habitual grey-suited men with terrible

briefcases, how come, how come

I anticipate nothing as intimate as history

 

would I have had a different life

failing this embrace with broken things,

iridescent veins, ecstatic bullets, small cracks

in the brain, would I know these particular facts,

how a phrase scars a cheek, how water

dries love out, this, a thought as casual

as any second eviscerates a breath

 

and this, we meet in careless intervals,

in coffee bars, gas stations, in prosthetic

conversations, lotteries, untranslatable

mouths, in versions of what we may be,

a tremor of the hand in the realization

of endings, a glancing blow of tears

on skin, the keen dismissal in speed

Plenty

Kevin Connolly

The sky, lit up like a question or

an applause meter, is beautiful

like everything else today: the leaves

in the gutters, salt stains on shoes,

the girl at the IGA who looks just like

Julie Delpy, but you don’t tell her —

she’s too young to get the reference and

coming from you it’ll just seem creepy.

So much beauty today you can’t find

room for it, closets already filled

with beautiful trees and smells and

glances and clever turns of phrase.

Behind the sky there’s a storm

on the way, which, with your luck,

will be a beautiful storm — dark

clouds beautiful as they arguably are,

the rain beautiful as it always is —

even lightning can be beautiful in a

scary kind of way (there’s a word

for that, but let’s forget it for the moment).

And maybe the sun will hang in long

enough to light up a few raindrops —

like jewels or glass or those bright beads

girls put between the letters on the

bracelets that spell out their beautiful names —

Skye or Miranda or Verandah — which isn’t

even a name, although it is a word

we use to call things what they are,

and would be a pleasant place to sit

and watch the beautiful sky, beautiful

storm, the people with their beautiful

names walking toward the lake

in lovely clothing saying unpleasant

things over the phone about the people

they work with, all of it just adding to the

mother lode, the surfeit of beauty,

which on this day is just a fancy way

of saying lots, too much, skidloads, plenty.