MONTREAL, MAY 29, 2013 – Secondary V and III students Alexandria Brault and Aisha Nafees of Westmount High School were in Toronto recently and delivered exceptional poetry recitations to compete with students from across the country for a share of $25,000 in cash and school stipends at the Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie poetry recitation competition.
Competing against hundreds of students from across the country, Brault finished among the top 18 students in Canada in the English stream; Nafees fared better, ultimately placing second in Canada in the Bilingual stream. Her prize was $1,000 cash, plus $500 for Westmount High’s School library, $250 of which will be spent on poetry.
“Aisha, learned both poems in French and in English by heart,” said French teacher Layla Khanji, crediting as well English teacher Ryan Ruddick.
Though it may seem easy to do, delivering a successful poetry recital asks students to follow a poem’s rhythm to its core and share with the audience what it has to say. Successful recitals move the audience emotionally, almost convincing the audience the student had written the poem themselves.
The competition, now working on its fourth year, challenges teachers and students from across the country to connect with classical and contemporary poetry written in English and in French. Participants choose a poem from the online anthology to commit to memory and recite for their classmates. Winners from the class competition move on to the school competition where they are required to memorize and recite a second poem, delivering them both the first and second poems orally in front of a school audience. And finally, the school champions in the English, French and Bilingual streams are invited to submit videos of their recitals to enter the online semifinals. Winning in the semifinals guarantees a trip to Toronto, a chance to win cash, and the esteem of poets and peers alike.