We’re wrapping up National Youth Arts Week with our final Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize announcement: our honorable mentions! Judges selected three poems in each category as honorable mentions. Congratulations again to all the young poets who placed in this year’s prize! We were inundated with great work from all across Canada, and our wonderful jurors were hard pressed to select just three winning poems in each category. Find the full prize announcement here, meet our first place winners and read their poems here, meet our second place winners and read their poems here, or meet our third place winners and read their poems here.


“The Xs and Os” by Aneesha Sran
“Where I’m From” by Michelle Nock
“Playgrounds” by Oluwafikunmi Kilanko


“Cradle Boat” by Churan Chen
“Why I Hate Art” by Hasen Abouzeeni
“Dream Job” by Laura Williams


I believe that I will continue to write poetry for many years to come, and will continue to listen to it as well. This is because poetry is an outlet for me to express my feelings, and I just find it to be beautiful so I see it still being important in my life. My favorite thing about poetry is that it allows a writer or a reader to pour their heart into the piece. It gives them a way to express the feelings that they may want to share but cannot find the means to vocalize them. Poetry allows you to truly feel what another person is trying to express, and even express what you’re feeling if you cannot put your heart into words. I believe that poetry is life in prose.

— Hasen Abouzeeni

My favourite thing about poetry is the creative freedom. Poetry often defies rules. With poetry there isn’t one set formula, it’s more about the individual. The biggest advice I could give to other students about writing is don’t limit or conform yourselves. There isn’t one exact form or way. Different writers have different styles. Be expressive, be free with your writing. You have to know what works for you, and find your style.

— Aneesha Sran

Poetry is an integral part of who I am. There are a lot of subjects that I used to be uncomfortable with, and could never really talk about openly, but poetry became my way of addressing them. Writing has always been a great outlet for me, and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. The best thing about poetry, for me, is how freeing it is. There doesn’t have to be justification for my words, as long as it makes me happy. Sure, it’s great when you get recognition, or someone else likes what you’ve written. But at the end of the day, no one’s opinion matters but mine.

— Oluwafikunmi Kilanko

I think the most important piece of advice I could give about writing poetry would be to let your writing flow – don’t try to mold your words into something that isn’t unique or isn’t you. Have confidence in your own talents and include your own emotions and feeling into a form that is unique and beautiful.

— Michelle Nock