Winners of the Kenneth G. Mills Poetry and Singer-Songwriter Prizes

Buzzing with anticipation, Heliconian Hall in Toronto was packed with prize finalists and their families and friends on the evening of May 5, 2018. Students gave exuberant performances of their poems and songs, and the Kenneth G. Mills Foundation presented the Kenneth G. Mills Poetry and Singer-Songwriter Prizes.

High school, college, and university students had submitted their works along a chosen theme of Wonder, Inspiration, or Peace, and after much deliberation the jury (Robert McAlpine, Mallory Blair Randle, and Michael Abbott) made the following selections:

Angie Lo wins first prize (High School)


Poetry (High School Category)

First Prize: Angie Lo, “Change”

Second Prize: Zara Hasan, “This Is It”

Third Prize: Sarena Akhter, “Tangible Poetry”

Fourth Prize: Maherah Sadaf, “Guide Me beyond the Aurora”



Nessa Brereton receives first prize (College)

Poetry (College and University Category)

First Prize: Nessa Brereton, “A Peace Sealed in Nature”

Second Prize: Jackson Donnelly, “Halogen Lamps”

Third Prize: Cassandra Mignardi, “Exit”

Fourth Prize: Yasmina Jaksic, “Sketch of a Dreamer’s Waltz for One”



Shernice Kirdeen, winner of the Singer-Songwriter Prize


First Prize: Shernice Kirdeen, “Rain”

Second Prize: Mackenzie Jones George, “Wonder”

Third Prize: Claire Mason, “Lone Star”

Fourth Prize: Halle Ruth Burnett, “Clipped”





The audience was charmed by the moving renditions of the singer-songwriters, who accompanied their lyrics with guitar, ukulele, piano or pre-recorded music. The poets delivered their high-calibre lines with force.

The finalists came from Agincourt Collegiate, Bishop Strachan School, David and Mary Thomson Collegiate, Humber College, Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School, Marc Garneau Collegiate, Northview Heights Secondary School, Seneca College, William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate, and York University.

The evening’s program culminated with the stunning singing of Adanya Dunn, soprano, who had previously been sponsored by the Kenneth G. Mills Foundation. She swept aside the microphone, and her notes soared to the rafters as she sang “Love’s Philosophy” (Roger Quilter) and “Take Me to a Green Isle” (Walter MacNutt).

Adanya Dunn, soprano, encourages the students

To close the evening, the audience was treated to a recording of the inspired recitation by  Kenneth G. Mills  of his spontaneously delivered poem “The Breath of Expectation,” with music by Tim Janis (found on the CD The Tonal Garment of the Word).

The Kenneth G. Mills Foundation was pleased to launch its new publication, Word Paintings: An Anthology of Poems; The Kenneth G. Mills Poetry Prizes, 2017–2018, and will continue to add new poems with each succeeding year of the Kenneth G. Mills Poetry Prizes.

“In their beauty and simplicity, the flowers hold space apart,

Just waiting for you to bloom when you open your heart.”

—Kenneth G. Mills, Anticipations

Photos by Glen Sawich.

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