Lara is the author of two collections of poetry, Canadian bestseller The Cartographer’s Skin (Piquant Press) and Tourist (Tightrope Books). In both 2014 and 2015 she was named Toronto’s Best Poet by NOW Magazine. She has featured at TEDx (Passion and Poetry) and, in 2012, at the Hot Docs International Documentary Challenge, a short documentary set to her poetry (and narrated by Lara), won for Best Writing and Best Use of Genre. She is currently working as an arts consultant for several projects, notably Jennifer Long‘s Caesura, which was included in Portraits in COVID Time: Documenting a Nation in Change, at Harbourfront Centre and selected for 2020-2021 Research and Creation support fromCanada Council for the Arts.
Her poetry has appeared in prominent Canadian and American literary journals, and was long-listed in The Montreal International Poetry Prize Anthology and Best Canadian Poetry. After the school shootings in Parkland, Florida, her poem, The New School, was selected for Rattle’s ‘Poets Respond’ and was one of the popular American poetry journal’s most read and shared poems.
As Department Head of English at a public high school, Lara founded Be Heard: Festival of Student Voices, which paired student writers with internationally renowned spoken word artists. She is also a founding member of Toronto Poetry Project, which produces Toronto Poetry Slam, BAM Youth Slam and writing workshops.
As a spoken word poet, Lara has performed at literary festivals and venues across North America, in Singapore, and in Ireland. She has represented Toronto at the Individual World Poetry Slam, Women of the World Poetry Slam and, as a member of the Toronto Poetry Slam Team, at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word.
How has the writing of poetry affected your life? (Glenda Jackson, Host; Coburg Poetry Workshop)
The writing of poetry has, quite simply, offered me a better way to live in the world. I deeply, humbly love what poems can do, and I strive to be the highest version of myself in creating them. Through the challenges of articulation, I have become more patient and contemplative with myself and others. I find myself listening much more consciously to the world, and to my experiences, than when I was a younger person. Loving something enough to strive for fluency, and appreciating how long of a road it takes to get there, has probably been the greatest
lesson; I am continually amazed at how this relationship grows, falters, renews, strengthens. I am continually amazed that I never walk away. There is something about this process that clears me out, and leaves me open for new experiences. I know that I would not have become the person (or
teacher) that I am, without a heart that beats for poetry.