Congratulations to the winners of the Portuguese Spoken Word Competition!

April 5, 2022 by Berenice Villagómez

The Department of Spanish & Portuguese congratulates the four students declared winners in the Portuguese Spoken Word Competition. This contest begins the year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Lusophone Studies program at the University of Toronto.

For the competition, students were asked to choose a poem written originally in Portuguese and create a short video of them reading the text. To encourage participation from all students in Portuguese courses, the jury created three categories for submissions, according to their language level.

The winners are:

  • For first-year Portuguese: Precious M. Abang, who read A felicidade by Vinicius de Moraes.
  • For second-year Portuguese: Francisca Carvalho, who read Portugal by Jorge de Sousa Braga. Another prize in this category was awarded to Lucas Aragão, who read Amor by Álvares de Azevedo.
  • Finally, for upper-year Portuguese: João Costa, who read Mar Português by Fernando Pessoa.

For Precious Abang, it was difficult to perform the poem without fumbling too many words. She also mentioned having to put considerable effort into finding good rhythm while reading. As she is currently in her first-year in the Life Sciences stream, she appreciated the freedom to be creative in this project: “It was so much fun to film my video! I had planned to film it all-day but only had time at night. As I was setting up the light in my room to start, I realized it cast a clear shadow on the wall so I decided it would be nice to film the shadow instead.” About her win, she said: “I feel very grateful and reassured. I have been trying to progress in the Portuguese language for many years and winning has shown me that my efforts are paying off.”

For Francisca Carvalho, winning in her category is a welcome way to prove to her grandparents that her Portuguese is still good. As heritage speaker, currently enrolled in PRT219Y1 – Academic Portuguese – the hardest part of the competition was choosing only one poem to submit. She shared: “There are so many Portuguese-speaking poets whose poems have filled the pages of my notebooks for years, Portugal by Jorge de Sousa Braga being one of them. I’m glad I got the opportunity to share his words, which are a deep declaration of love for Portugal - though one that acknowledges that not everything is red wine and roses. It acknowledges the complexities of our history and doesn’t sweep under the rug the painful elements that constitute it. Portuguese, in general, is a language that effortlessly conveys the great themes of love, death, the transience of everything, and the precariousness of life. It’s because of the words that compose it and the emotion they hold, so I hope this sparks an interest and encourages people to support writers and engage with more poetry from Portuguese-speaking countries.”

Lucas Aragão, a fourth-year student in Kinesiology and Physical Education, also found difficult to pick one poem. Once he made up his mind, though, making a video “was fun, but also hard to record, as I kept laughing and having to restart the video numerous times. Overall, it was a great experience!” After winning in his category, he said: “I feel amazing! It is great to receive this achievement and be awarded for such a fun and interesting event!”

João Costa agreed in that creating the video was an enjoyable experience. For him, “it was very nostalgic to recite such a symbolic poem of the essence of the Portuguese soul, the connection to the sea, and openness to the world. It's a pleasure to have won, and, above all, be engaged with the Portuguese program at the University of Toronto.”

The winners were recognized in the End of Year Celebration of the Portuguese program on March 25. We appreciate the generous support of the Camoes I.P. for this competition by participating in the committee and giving some of the prizes for our students.