Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Why Poetry Matters

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In high school, I wrote (really cheesy) poetry. Like a lot of teenagers! I stopped once I started university, but I never stopped loving the genre. Throughout my undergrad at the University of Toronto I was involved with two literary journals -- Acta Victoriana and The Hart House Review. This was really fun and it was nice to be involved in something creative, and to talk to others who loved poetry, too.

Poetry matters because, at its heart, it is a celebration of words.

Of course all writing and stories are made up of words too, but poems especially are about the beauty of language.

Take my favourite poem as an example. I love "Diving into the Wreck" by feminist poet Adrienne Rich. Here's my favourite passage:

"I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed"

Beautiful, right?

The meaning of poems can definitely be harder to see but that's their best feature, in my opinion -- that there are so many interpretations of a poem. (Although that's not what we learn in English class reading Shakespeare poems!)

I think it's interesting that so many students, especially at Victoria College at U of T where I went, choose poetry as their main form of creative oulet during their undergrad. Maybe it's that writing poetry can feel very freeing -- there are no rules, there is no specific form.

I think poetry is even more important today. With 140-character tweets and Facebook status updates and sound bites, we need to remember that words matter, and that they matter because of their beauty and power.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Aya Tsintziras

Aya Tsintziras is the author of the YA novel Pretty Bones, which was selected for the Canadian Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens in Spring 2012. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing a Masters of Journalism at Ryerson University.

Go to Aya Tsintziras’s Author Page