nyaw-logoThe first week of May each year is National Youth Arts Week in Canada, and we are excited to celebrate six youth poets this week! We are pleased to announce the winners of our 2016 Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize for Canadian youth. The prize is awarded annually through the Jessamy Stursberg Youth Poetry Trust Fund, sustained by a generous donation from the Stursberg family and other donors in honour of Jessamy Sutrsberg. The prize was established to foster a lifelong relationship between Canadian youth and the literary arts–specifically poetry–in honour of Jessamy’s lifelong love of poetry.

The prize awards six student poets across two categories: the junior category, for students in grades 7 to 9, and the senior category, for students in grades 10 to 12.

Congratulations to all the amazing student poets recognized for this year’s award! Continue to check our Community page throughout National Youth Arts Week to read the winning poems and find interviews with the winning poets.


“For a Child Somewhere” by Muneeza Sheikh (junior category).

Judges’ comments:

In this poem that contrasts survival with childish delights, the presentation
is stark… breathtaking.

The reader has to pause and give full attention to every word.

Juxtaposition … works to establish a jagged rhythm that fits the strong
emotion in the poem.

“On the Roof” by Aubry Williams (senior category)

Judges’ comments:

This poem is finely crafted, its sentiment beautifully expressed.

It leaps into action with exuberance, and creates wonder.

Its experimental form, shifting metaphors, and jarring imagery combine to
lead the reader through to the poem’s final epiphany.


“Blank Pages”
by Sadie Bell (junior category)

Judges’ comments:

Startlingly fresh

Intriguing… draws from early literary images of “white”
and combines them with new images.

“A Goodbye” by Harmony Taetz (senior category)

Judges’ comments:

Draws the reader in and speaks volumes without
saying too much.

Clear and meditative voice.


“The Wind’s Face” by Frida Purdon (junior category)

Judges’ comments:

A kaleidoscope of images that surprise and delight.

Wild and energetic… the reader feels carried along, observing
life from the wind’s perspective.

“Promise Breaker” by Kelsey Tishinski (senior category)

Judges’ comments:

Simple in all the right ways—its voice clear, its honesty stark.

Appalling realized revealed through powerful understatement.


(click to view)

Junior category:

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

Senior category:

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