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St. Albert's STARK Poets fundraise for trip to Ottawa nationals

Poetry In Voice competition to be held at National Arts Centre in April

St. Albert’s STARK Poets have the opportunity to win $3,000 at Poetry in Voice National Finals held in Ottawa. 

To test their mental muscle, the after-school youth poetry club competed in Edmonton’s Poetry in Voice regionals at McNally High School on Monday, March 4.  

STARK Poets sent two teams to regionals: a group of Paul Kane High School poets and a second team from Bellerose High School. The Paul Kane champions placed third, while Bellerose came in fourth. 

But there was enough juice in their poetry recitations to take a shot at the Poetry In Voice Nationals held at the National Arts Centre on April 24. Poetry in Voice is a country-wide charity that promotes poetry in classrooms. 

During the national event, high school students from across Canada memorize, recite and perform poems in English and French. The poems are written by Canadian, Indigenous, and international poets. Students compete against one another for their ability to embody the essence of each poem. 

The 2024 event hosts are CBC and CTV broadcaster Evan Soloman and bilingual CBC host Johanne Blais.  

“We have three students who potentially can qualify. And even if we didn’t have any students that qualified, we’d still be going to learn more about the program,” said Karen May Healey, a retired Bellerose High teacher who is organizing the trip. Eight student poets are visiting the nationals. 

To qualify for nationals, youth poets memorize two poems and upload videos of their recitations to their YouTube account. Judges select nine finalists to compete for three prizes, ranging from $1,000 to $3,000.  

The McCall MacBain Foundation and Griffin Foundation will pay finalists’ costs to the nationals. However, since only three students potentially qualify for a free trip, Healey has set up a GoFundMe page requesting donations of $5,000 to help cover costs for the other five students.  

“We’re doing this as cheaply as possible. We’re paying Porter Airlines $432 per person return non-stop to Ottawa. We’ll be staying in hotels for three nights for $1,400 total. We’re not just going to the nationals. We’re touring the Parliament Buildings, the War Museum and the National Art Gallery,” said Healey. 

As one of STARK Poets founders, she has observed how mesmerizing, emotional and powerful the recitations can be as students distill life through the poetry they speak. 

“These kids work hard and they’re very creative. The kids are so kind, and they have a lovely way of celebrating creativity in the community. The St. Albert Public Library, where we have our meetings, has been an incredible team player. It has given us the freedom to grow bigger and stronger.” 

The GoFundMe link is Anyone who would like to check on meeting times or for more information, can send emails to [email protected]

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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