The field of competitors was vast. This year, more than 1,300 Canadian schools registered for the Poetry in Voice program and well over 10,000 students learned a poem by heart. For the fifth time, St. George’s embraced the competition, integrating it into English classes from Grades 9 -12 and holding its own celebration of the spoken word in the form of a school-wide evening competition. Once again, St. George’s took the national title, and poetry was recited by 400 plus boys over two months.
Hamish Marissen-Clark was the only male of the six students selected from the hundreds of Canadian semi-finalists to move on to the English-speaking finals, which took place at Victoria College, University of Toronto in April. Ultimately, Hamish emerged as the national winner, following in the footsteps of past St. George’s winners, Leo Chen (3rd place 2014) and Luc Maurer (1st place 2017).
The first place winner of the 2018 competition was decided at a gala celebration of poetry, hosted by CBC’s Gillian Deacon at the Bader Theatre in Toronto. The three national finalists recited three poems before an esteemed panel of poets, including Liz Howard, Canisia Lubrin and Matt Rader. Well known writers Dionne Brand, Anne Michaels, Lorna Crozier, Susan Swann, Florence Richler and John Ralston Saul were also in attendance. Following the evening, former Governor General, the Rt. Honourable Adrienne Clarkson remarked that “Poetry in Voice is an astonishing tribute to poetry -- one of the greatest ideas to emerge in the world of literature in Canada in recent years! I salute this superb initiative and wish we could carry it out all over the world!”
The organizer of the annual Poetry in Voice competition, David Smith, wrote to congratulate St. George’s on Hamish’s first place award:“Thank you so much for all the work everyone at St. George's puts into Poetry In Voice each year. Each year you manage to channel the passion of your boys into unique, I'd go so far as to say iconic interpretations of the poems. "Illegalize: Floodgate Dub" was one of our most popular new poems this year, and like Luc last year with "From Red Doc>", I will have Hamish's voice in my head every time I hear or read it.”
Hamish was awarded a cheque for $5000 and has the honour of being invited back to Toronto in June to perform at the annual awards banquet of The Griffin Trust, a charity dedicated to the promotion of poetry in Canada.
The English Department would like to thank the many people who contributed to Poetry in Voice this year, and who, in doing so, helped Hamish on his journey to being named the National winner.
The Griffin Trust also acknowledged St. George’s School’s efforts with a cheque for $1000, half of which we have decided to donate to our kindergarten partner schools in the Reading Bear program. Our goal is to help these schools to build their own poetry library, thereby helping to instill love of the written and spoken word in the early school years.