2023 Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize for Canadian Youth – Winning Poems

Congratulations to the 2023 Winners of the Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize. The jurors were incredibly impressed with the quality of poems submitted this year, and we thank everyone who shared their poetry with us— we know the future of professional poetry in Canada is in good hands!

The Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize for Canadian Youth was established to foster a lifelong relationship between Canadian youth and the literary arts, specifically poetry. The prize is supported through a generous donation from the Stursberg family and other donors in honour of Jessamy Stursberg. The prize accepts submissions from young poets all across Canada, with three prizes awarded in both the Junior (grades 7 to 9) and Senior (grades 10 to 12) categories: 

Winner: $400
Second Place: $350
Third Place: $300 

Senior winners

Thank you to our senior jury: K.P. Heyming, Deborah L. Kelly, and Erin Bedford!

First place, senior: “Last Day of the Circadian Ache” by Vivian Sun

From our jurors: “This poem and its lineation play with our expectations, forcing us into a place of tension. The imagery, however richly and beautifully described, further disorients, so the whole piece presents as a type of fever dream we are continually jolted from; as we read, we begin to experience what the ‘last day of the circadian ache’ might feel like. Well done!

Third place, senior: “the outcast (to be a writer)” by Zixuan Xu

From our jurors: The Outcast (to be a writer) was filled with wonderful metaphors: the inner sight, the rhythm of this work is outstanding. We were very impressed with the ability of youth to see so clearly in a world so filled with illusion. We consider it an honour and a privilege to have been given such an intimate view into the hearts and minds of Canadian youth, and the wonderful up and coming generation of poets. Bravo to all who entered. Keep on writing!

Junior Winners

Thank you to our junior jury: Vivian Li, Kevin Irie, and Anita Ngai!

First place, junior: “Mirrors” by Sana Huang

From our jurors: First place “Mirrors” reflects on past illusions and present perceptions by a speaker both cautious then caring in a poem that deftly balances concise imagery to convey sharp truths. Using imagery both original and ominous, the past is “a gradient of greys” and “forbidden memories churning in a non-stop cycle.” By piecing together so much, so honestly, the poem evokes both a prayer and a yearning for truth, identity, and worth in just 16 masterful lines. 

Second place, junior: “Nightsky Observations” by Meala Sang

Meala Sang’s “Nightsky Observations” is poignant poetic journey through hope, wonder, and longing in the dark. It is a poem of stillness but also leaping imagination. The poet sits and sees “lonely stars, but people call them beautiful,” and Sang conveys that loneliness and beauty within her own thoughts as well as through her night vision. Trusting her openness, we follow her to the very last line, uplifted in an afterglow that lingers long after. 

Third place, junior: “Life is Rain” by Caoimhe Karl

From our jurors: “Life Is Rain” is a celebration that playfully turns perceptions upside down. “If life is rain, then is death sunshine?” the poet mischievously asks, and that impish imagination gives the poem its fresh energy and generosity. This is a poem of optimism, even defiance, where the poet finds joy in a subject others could see as depressing much like the way a child splashes through puddles, yet the poem’s enthusiasm absolutely convinces, and triumphs. 

Honourable Mentions & The Next Generation IV Chapbook


  • “Blind” by Nour Issa
  • “Forget me, forget me not” by Fiona Xing
  • “The Adults” by Marina MacDonald
  • “The Willow’s Pond” by Anjali Wong
  • “Assignment: Scrapbooking Tradition” by Maggie Yang
  • “Le bateau de pêcheur” by Jocelin Chang


  • “Cherished Memories” by Mischaela Wong
  • “When I was Younger” by Ruby Vianello
  • “Tears from Heaven” by Coco Wang
  • “I Speak for the Trees” by Paul Phillos
  • “Puzzle Pieces” by Eden Gray
  • “The Battle of Helm Deep” by Jennie Coote

The LCP Chapbook Series is delighted to celebrate the incredible talent of youth poets in Canada through the 4th edition of The Next Generation – releasing in September 2023!

Along with the 6 winning poems from the 2023 Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize, this chapbook will also feature special juror selections from the 2023 submissions, including:


  • “Biking Without Hands” by Jaiden Ahuja
  • “Fate” by Leonardo Yang
  • “Diwali, Vancouver” by Sofia Varma-Vitug


  • “Melody Birds” by Emily Lane
  • “Notes of Belonging” by Vanessa Chen
  • “The Art of Creation” by Asma Ameen Majeed