Lara Bozabalian – Life 2.0

Toronto’s Best Poet – Now Magazine Honours!

Yesterday morning, rising at my usual hour, I sat down at the computer to read and write a bit before sunlight showed. I didn’t expect to find out that I won Now Magazine’s Best of Toronto Award for Best Poet, but I guess that is the beauty of irony. Years ago, I would have looked at that list of winners with the wistfulness of a mountain climber, wanting acclaim for the wrong reasons and with no real sense of how to desrve it. I had passion by the bucketload, but little discipline; I overwrote, repeated ideas, and sent my poems to every literary magazine without really understanding what they were looking for; in short, I was a young, unbelievably passionate writer, making all the same mistakes of every other young writer. I felt like I had a fire in my chest, but I didn’t stand out.

Then, in Fall of 2005, I was lucky enough to fall into a community of poetry minded souls and that’s where my adventure really started. I needed them, their laughter, their critiques, their competive edge. I wasn’t sure of my place, but was enlivened by their energy. I got frustrated, having to shape my work to certain formats, but it helped me discover restraint. I needed to discover that life attracts life; my writing came alive when I was working for myself, but alongside others. Light arrives in unexpected moments, in the hours before dawn, during lunch hours, and later at night when sleep escapes. I didn’t know I would stay up until 3am to find a closing sentence for Beethoven Walks. I never imagined travelling to North Carolina or (Singapore!) to meet poets from around the world, throwing their passion into the air like beautiful thunderbolts. Years ago, I never would have imagine that a city would appreciate my poetry, but I hoped for it (full disclosure). Thousands of unglamorous, infinitely satisfying hours brought me here, and I am comforted not by the notion that I stand out, but that I have a community of like minded and equally talened souls that blankets me. 30304_401831321117_517791117_4167589_4933294_n

39443_490524746117_517791117_5966219_6136872_n-1Toronto, every place, is filled with artists. You are likely one, even if you have yet to put pen to page. I teach that in my class every day. I write this for my students, for young writers, for my younger self, as a reminder that the award is a lovely symbol, but only that; hard work shaped me into the person I wanted to become.

Thank you so much for making my passion a shared experience. I am grateful for everything.

Lara

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