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This article was published 11/4/2019 (538 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Poetry wasn’t always Nina Thach’s cup of tea.
But on April 24, the 17-year-old Kildonan East Collegiate student will step on stage at the national Poetry in Voice semifinal competition to recite three poems, with a chance to win $5,000 on the line.
"I’ve always loved being onstage," the Grade 12 student admitted. "I definitely did not like studying poetry in English classes. But when I took it onstage, from a dramatic angle, I really started to like it."
In her Grade 11 year, Thach was chosen to compete on the school’s regional team in the Poetry in Voice provincial competition, where they placed second. This year, Thach and teammates Kishaun Haffenden and Nhi Nguyen won the provincial championship.
"(Nina) scored highest of all the competitors at the provincial competition," Tannis Francis, the drama teacher at KEC and coach of the Poetry in Voice team. "She was natural selection then to be the online quarter finalist."
Over 10,000 Grade 9 to 12 students from 1,400 schools across the country entered either the English, bilingual or French streams of the national competition. Each contestant chooses two poems to perform from the Poetry in Voice website for a video submission. Thach is one of only a dozen students who will compete in the English stream semifinals, which are held in Winnipeg April 24, with the finals on April 25.
Those who will compete on the 24th will read their two poems again, along with a third, for the judges and a live audience at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Thach will perform Common Magic by Bronwen Wallace, What horror to wake at night by Lorine Niedecker, and My Brother at 3 a.m. by Natalie Diaz.
"She picked three very different pieces," Francis said. "She’s putting in such time and effort."
"With me, I feel I can find a different story to connect with each of my poems," Thach said. "Being able to be the one to deliver (the poem), rather than just analyzing it, is cool. It’s a new way to look at poetry."
"Nina’s a great actress," Francis added. "Once she connects, she’s able to find her voice."
The winner from each stream will take home $5,000 in cash, along with $1,000 for their school’s library, half of which, Francis explained, is to be used to buy new poetry books.
"Poetry in Voice is such a great program," Francis said. "It’s so lovely in supporting Canadian kids expressing themselves."
Participants at the national competition will also take part in a workshop at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, an open mic night and "The Epic Winnipeg Poetry Hunt," where teams will tour the city in a "unique, bilingual poetry-themed scavenger hunt."
Francis is hoping that the national exposure will help get more kids interested in the Poetry in Voice program at KEC.
"I’ve been trying for years to make it a popular extracurricular activity, but it’s tough," she said, adding that all the school’s drama classes and two English classes will attend the competition on April 24 to cheer Thach on.
"Regardless of her placement, I know she will be memorable on that stage," Francis said.
For more information, visit www.poetryinvoice.com
Community journalist — The Herald
Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112
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