Lauren Paré studied English at the University of Toronto and Law at the University of Ottawa. She is currently pursuing her Creative Writing Certificate at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. She lives in Peterborough, Ontario, on the treaty and traditional territory of the Mississauga Anishinaabeg.
You can read her poem Self in the January 2023 issue of Pinhole Poetry.
Would you like to tell us a little bit more about your poem? For instance, how or why you wrote it, or perhaps provide some extra context?
I wrote my poem “Self” during my Introductory Poetry course at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. I view the piece as an exploration of self-discovery and resilience.
Why was the poetic form the best fit for this particular piece of work?
I wrote this piece as a prose poem (without traditional line breaks, but which retains poetic features such as rhyme and metaphor). I like the freedom of this form; I feel it best matches the stream of consciousness style of the piece.
Do you have a collection of poetry or even a single poem that acts as a touchstone?
Amanda Gorman’s debut poetry collection, Call Us What We Carry, is a personal favourite. Her images, allusions, and themes are stunning and timely. I also love Brandon Leake, the first spoken word poet to win America’s Got Talent.
If you didn’t write poetry, how do you think you might access the same fulfillments that poetry offers in your life?
If I knew how to draw and sew, I would love to be a fashion designer. There is a lot of overlap with poetry: attention to detail; personal aesthetics; curating a collection, etc.
How do you revise your work?
I find editing poetry to be much more challenging than editing an essay, for example. In general, I try to play around with word choice and line breaks to see how meanings may shift throughout the poem.
What are you working on now?
I just finished a Playwriting course. I have a short break before my next certificate course in February, Poetry II. In the interim, I’ve been submitting to journals.
How or where or with what does a poem begin?
For me, a poem usually begins with a single image or line, which I then expand into a larger piece. Other times, I’ll have an idea for a larger story, which I try to distill into just a few lines – in a haiku or tanka, for example.
Are there other art forms that inspire or inform your poetry?
I love the visual artistry and storytelling of movies – flashbacks, close-ups, panoramic shots. I try to achieve similar effects in my poetry.
What are you reading or watching or listening to lately that intrigues or inspires you?
I just finished the novel Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. It’s the best book I’ve read in a long time. The writing style is accessible, and the story is truly cinematic. I was excited to learn that Hulu is adapting it into a mini-series.
Have you ever received advice (or has there been something you’ve learned on your own) about writing or revising poems that has made you a better poet? What was it?
That poetry doesn’t have to make sense.
Do you belong to a writer’s group? If not, where do you find poetry community and feedback?
I recently joined a Writers’ Circle at the Peterborough Public Library. I also enjoy meeting writers through my U of T certificate courses.