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Students and their Schools Awarded $10,000 at Poetry In Voice Recitation Finals

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The Griffin Trust

The recitation finals for the Griffin Trust's remarkable Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie program were held in Toronto last night. Congratulations to the three winners and the finalists!

From the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry:

Scott Griffin awarded $10,000 in prize money to high school students and their schools at [the] first-ever Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie recitation finals, held at the Young Centre for Performing Arts in downtown Toronto's historic Distillery District. The event was open to the public and was well attended by hundreds of poetry fans, including students, teachers, media and members of the arts community.

The three winners are:

1st Prize:
$5,000 awarded to Jonathan Welstead, Grade 12, of Toronto, Ontario
$2,500 awarded to Upper Canada College's library, $500 of which is earmarked for the purchase of poetry books.
Jonathan recited "To a Mouse" by Robert Burns, "The Windhover" by Gerard Manley Hopkins and "Preludes" by T. S. Eliot.

2nd Prize:
$1,000 awarded to Anna Jiang, Grade 12, of North York, Ontario
$500 awarded to Victoria Park Collegiate Institute's library for the purchase of poetry books.
Anna recited "Journey of the Magi" by T. S. Eliot, "L'esprit et l'eau” by Paul Claudel and "A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General" by Jonathan Swift.

3rd Prize:
$500 awarded to Spencer Slaney, Grade 10, of Sudbury, Ontario
$500 awarded to Lockerby Composite School's library for the purchase of poetry books.
Spencer recited "Spleen" by Charles Baudelaire, "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll and "Annabel Lee" by Edgar Allan Poe.

Margaret Atwood, attending the event, noted, "Poetry In Voice takes poetry back to its oral roots — its connection with the voice, with heard rhythm — while connecting with an ancient tradition that has recently been revived in several forms: Poetry as performance. Memorizing a poem is a way of knowing it inside out — in all five of its dimensions."

Soulpepper Theatre founding artistic director Albert Schultz hosted the evening, which opened with remarks in English and French by Scott and Krystyne Griffin, highlighting the bilingual aspect of the competition. In describing the importance of recitation, Scott Griffin commented: "Poems committed to memory inspire greater appreciation of this art form and public recitation promotes student confidence."

The judging panel included an impressive mix of Ontario and Quebec poets and actors: Karine Glorieux, novelist; Robert Lalonde, actor and Governor General's Literary Award–winning writer; Diana Leblanc, Soulpepper Theatre founding artist; Dennis Lee, Governor's General Literary Award-winning poet; Karen Solie, Griffin Poetry Prize-winning poet; and Élise Turcotte, Governor General's Award-winning poet.

A jazz trio featuring recent graduates from Rosedale Heights School of the Arts played throughout the evening.

The following twelve Ontario students represented their respective schools in the competition finals:

  • Amelia Druskis, Grade 12, Bayridge Secondary School, Kingston
  • Suzanna Alsayed, Grade 11, Cawthra Park Secondary School, Mississauga
  • Mélodie Cyr, Grade 9, Collège Notre-Dame, Sudbury
  • Lily MacLeod, Grade 12, Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute, Toronto
  • Spencer Slaney, Grade 10, Lockerby Composite School, Sudbury
  • David Castillo, Grade 12, London Central Secondary School, London
  • Estera Musiala, Grade 12, R.H. King Academy, Scarborough
  • Brogan Carruthers, Grade 12, South Carleton High School, Richmond (Ottawa)
  • Victoria Campbell, Grade 11, Toronto French School, Toronto and Mississauga
  • Malvika Chowdry, Grade 11, Trafalgar Castle School, Whitby
  • Jonathan Welstead, Grade 12, Upper Canada College, Toronto
  • Anna Jiang, Grade 12, Victoria Park Collegiate Institute, North York

This contest begins at the classroom level and moves on to school-wide competitions. After winning their school competitions, the student champions listed above advanced to [the] recitation finals.

The competition will expand in 2012 to include all of Ontario and Quebec, and branch out to schools across the country in 2013. Schools that are interested in participating next year are invited to please contact

Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie (PIV/LVP) is the latest initiative by Scott Griffin, Chairman and founder of The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry along with Trustees Margaret Atwood, Carolyn Forché, Robert Hass, Michael Ondaatje, Robin Robertson and David Young. The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry raises awareness of the crucial role poetry plays in our cultural life, a mission shared by Poetry In Voice.

Check back later this week for coverage of the PIV/LVP Recitation Finals on Open Book.

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