Manitoba Association of Teachers of English (MATE)

Living Poetry

Conference Information

This year’s conference will be delivered online via ZOOM. After you complete registration, you will receive an email two days before the event with a ZOOM Meeting URL, a Meeting ID, and a Passcode for each session at the conference. You will have access to all sessions.

Conference Theme:

This year’s MATE conference,’ Living Poetry’ is about the power of poetry in building community, stimulating intellectual curiosity, empowering student voice, and unlocking  a learner’s potential as no other medium can. We’ve organized a great day to engage and celebrate the poet in you and your students.

The Teacher as Designer Program Outline:

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Session A: Morning Keynote: Melissa Smith, Lake Norman Charter High School, Charlotte NC, National Board-Certified Teacher
“Ignite your love for teaching and your students’ love for poetry.”

10:15 a.m. – 11:45 p.m.
Session B: Melissa Smith
“Building Community and Voice Through Poetry”

11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Lunch

12:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Session C: Mike Johnson, Teacher/Slam Poet, H.S. Paul School
“You are Poetry”

2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Session D: Chimwemwe Undi, 2023 Manitoba Poet Laureate
“Life is Poetry”

Session A – ZOOM Morning Keynote – 9am-10am

Melissa Alter Smith is a high school English teacher in Charlotte, where she earned the 2017 District Teacher of the Year, as well as an AP® Reader and AP® Consultant. She is the creator of #TeachLivingPoets and Melissa is co-author of Teach Living Poets, and the Norton Guide to AP® Literature. Melissa was on the advisory board for Library of Congress’s Poet Laureate Project educational toolkit and the conversation host for Norton’s Poets on Poetry series. Learn more about Melissa’s work at


Session B – ZOOM – 10:15am -12:00am

Morning Keynote Follow-Up Workshop: “Building Community and Voice Through Poetry”

Speaker: Melissa Smith, Lake Norman Charter High School, Charlotte, NC

Session Description:

This session is directed toward teachers seeking engaging collaborative activities for teaching new poems, as well as writing prompts that facilitate building a community of writers and encourage students to develop personal voice through language play. Through interacting with sample lessons, mentor texts, pre-writing strategies, and poetry prompts, participants are provided with fresh ideas and resources they can take back to their classrooms and implement tomorrow.

Grade Level: Early Years, Middle Years, Senior Years

Session C – Introduction: ZOOM – 1:15pm – 2:15pm

Session Title: “You Are Poetry”

Presenter’s Name: Mike Johnson, Teacher/Slam Poet, H.S. Paul School, Louis Riel School Division

Session Description: You Are Poetry is an hour of time designed to highlight the ways in which every student and every educator is already both a poem and a poet just by living their unique lives and experiences. The focus will be on discovering and highlighting the poem and poet in yourself and working with engaging strategies to do the same to empower others (especially students!) to do the same. A chance to build your own voice and value through poetry and leave with a backpack full of Monday morning ready poetry activities and ideas that will help you bring poetry alive!

Like you, Mike Johnston is a poet. He is an award-winning classroom teacher, spoken-word artist, and poetry advocate and educator. He has toured and performed internationally as a champion slam poet, having won myriad slam poetry titles at provincial and national levels. He has consistently used his travel for performance touring and poetry slam competition as a Trojan horse. He has served as director at a variety of festivals and slam poetry organizations with a focus on new poets and youth poetry education. Helping others find and build their poetic voices has become the heartbeat of his motivation. He was named a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, taught, and workshopped poetry on beaches alongside sea lions and sea turtles, and continually seeks every road less traveled that poetry brings his way.

Session D – Zoom: 2:15pm – 3:15pm

Session Title: “Life is Poetry”

Speaker: Chimwemwe Undi, 2023 Manitoba Poet Laureate; Lawyer, Thompson, Dorfman, Sweatman

Session Description:
Engaging young people in poetry has the potential to transform them into many things besides a poet (though that’s good too!). Opportunities for students to read, discuss, write and perform poetry build skills in writing, critical thinking, public speaking and, crucially, are opportunities for young people to determine and discover who they are going to be. As a former youth poet, Chimwemwe will talk about the poetry teachers and teachings that set her on her path, not just towards being a poet, a writer and a lawyer, but towards being someone whose life is enriched, every day, by looking at the whole world like a poet. Chimwemwe will also discuss some resources that she used and some she wishes she had as a burgeoning poet.

Grade Level: All

Chimwemwe Undi is Winnipeg Poet Laureate. Her work has appeared in Border Crossings, Brick, CBC Manitoba and BBC World and others, and she has been featured at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. She is an editor at CV2 Magazine, a proud board member with Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poesie and the Broadway Neighbourhood Community Centre, and an associate lawyer at TDS LLP. Her debut full-length collection, Scientific Marvel, will be published by House of Anansi Press in spring 2024.

Fees and Registration (fee includes half and full day)

Register Online at:

Conference Fees:        Full Day SAGE Conference and Membership – $30.00

MATE Student Full Day SAGE Conference and Membership Fee – $20.00

                                           LATE Registration Fee – $40.00 (regular and student)

MATE Membership:   MATE Membership – included with Conference Fee                   

MATE Student Membership – included with Conference Fee

                                            MATE Membership ONLY – $20.00

If you do not have Internet access, please contact Linda at 204-255-1676 or at email to make alternate arrangements for payment.