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The Griffin Trust Launches Poetry Recitation Contest in Quebec

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Jorge Luis Borges once said that "truly fine poetry must be read aloud." Thanks to the Griffin Trust For Excellence in Poetry, high schoolers and CEGEP students within Quebec will get an opportunity to do just that.

The Griffin Trust, which oversees the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize, is challenging young people in Quebec, in both English and French, to participate in a poetry reading competition. The contest will also take place in Ontario, with plans to go nationwide in 2013.

The French poems have been curated by Université de Montréal's Pierre Nepveu. Nepveu has twice won the Governor General's Literary Award for his poetry, and also co-authored a highly successful anthology of Quebecois poetry. The French language poets include ,Nelligan, Hugo, Verlaine and Hélène Dorion.

The English selection was made by the Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry, whose members include Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.

Atwood has said of the act of reading poetry aloud:

"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."

Included on the English poet list are Poe, Whitman, Brontë and Keats.

Students are expected to memorize and recite a poem in public. The grand prize will be $5,000 and $2,500 for the student champion's school library (with $500 of that to be concentrated on purchasing poetry books specifically). There will be a total of $10,000 of awards and stipends handed out at the National Finals event.

The contest is meant to inspire a new generation of young poets and to urge young people to experience poetry as it is meant to be experienced: performed aloud.

The contest has a very informative and interactive website, where students can sign up, browse the list of poets and poems and watch videos of other students reciting poetry from years past. There is also a 'random poem' finder tool, which could come in handy when trying to choose between, say, Dickens and Donne. Tough call.

More information on the Poetry In Voice contest can be found here.

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