Poetry in Voice 2018: Grade Competitions


Jay Luo

Grade 9s smile for a photo with their certificates of participation.

On the evening of January 30th, 2018, the elected winners from the English classes from grades 9-12 in the senior school gathered in McLean Hall for an introduction to the fourth annual Poetry in Voice contest at St. George’s. After a warm welcome by Mrs. Matthews and a playful recitation by Mr. Jeremy Sayers, a grade 11 English teacher and an old boy, the competitors from each grade proceeded to their respective competition locations—grade 9s in the Socials Commons, grade 10s in the Norris Theatre, grade 11s in a classroom adjacent to the auditorium, and the grade 12s in the auditorium.

Poetry in Voice, founded in 2010 by Scott Griffin, is a bilingual (English and French) recitation competition. Over the past few years, the competition has become a “cultural force” (Poetry in Voice website) in Canada, with over 1,000 schools in the nation partaking in this competition.

St. George’s started participating in the Poetry in Voice competition in 2014; since then, there has been a growing number of students who accomplished impressive feats at the competition. Luc Maurer ‘18, in 2017, was awarded the title of national champion. Leo Chang ‘14, in 2014, progressed through the grade finals and into the national finals in August of that year.


Jay Luo
(From left to right) Mr. Daniels, Ms. Torry, and Mr. Johnston marking a grade 9 recitation.

In each of the grade classrooms, there were judges that evaluated the overall performance of the student’s recitation. For some students, this is the first time they’ve been in a highly selective and competitive atmosphere, and they had the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be in the first round of competing against thousands of other students from around the country.

Kevin Li, a second-time competitor at the Poetry in Voice competition at the senior school, expressed that it “allows [students] to express their ideas through poetry and fosters creativity and appreciation for poetry.” Entering grade 11 in the next school year, Kevin “hopes to be competing in Poetry in Voice once again.”

Leonard Hsiung, one of the two finalists from grade 10, recites Echolalia by Ian Williams.

Leonard Hsiung, one of the two grade 10s to advance to the school finals (the other being Jamin Feng), is a first-time competitor at the Poetry in Voice competition. After his outstanding recitation, he feels pleasantly surprised and did not “expect [himself] to do this well” in the competition. “Poetry in Voice brings a novel way of expression to the table,” Leonard adds, “it’s very similar to other activities such as Concert Band, Jazz Band, and Ceramics— it’s a kind of art form without boundaries. Everybody can shine with poetry.”


This year’s grade competitions of Poetry in Voice at St. George’s concludes on a high note, as the few competitors that advance from this round will be competing in the school finals in February, where they will be required to learn one other poem in addition to the one they have already memorized. Congratulations to those who qualified to compete in the grade competitions, and best of luck to the few competitors that will be competing again in February!