Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.

- George Bernard Shaw

I’m the kind of writer who is always writing, even when I’m not writing. I re-read stories, collect poems, gather words and buy too many books. Ever since I could remember, I have been in love with words. When I was a little girl, I pretended that I was a librarian and created library stamp cards for almost every book I owned. Another year, I was a ranger working to save gorillas from poachers in the Virunga Mountains. I even created a blueprint for the conservation headquarters. Some days,  my gemstones were gourmet candies and I operated a ‘candy’ shop out of my room. Other days, I was a princess on a mission to save my father from being poisoned. It was only in retrospect that I realized I was in love with stories— creating characters, plots, professions in make-believe environments.

My love of stories grew with every year, and by the time I was 13, I knew I wanted to be a writer.  I spent most of my senior years in high school writing lyrics and fragments of poems. I was accepted to the University of Toronto, and chose to study English and Religion— the intersection of creativity and spirit. My first university class was held at Convocation Hall, an impressive heritage building that is the site of many convocation ceremonies. On my first day of class, however, it was transformed into a world of words. Our professor read “The Second Coming” by Yeats, and I could feel his words echoing in the majestic hall.

Luck, they say, is necessary in the writer’s journey. I was lucky enough to be among the first cohort of students to graduate from the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at the University of Guelph. I received life changing advice from Dionne Brand (she advised me to write ghazals), ate cheese and crackers in David Young’s kitchen, wrote a short story that made Thomas King laugh and had tea in Janice Kulyk Keefer’s dining room. I exchanged poems with Kuldip Gill, who mentored me through my first collection of poetry.  It was through the guidance and expertise of my mentors and teachers that I learned how to become a more resilient writer.

After I graduated from the MFA program in Creative Writing, I focused on having my first collection of poems, Bleeding Light, published. I found myself in M.G Vassanji’s living room, drinking Kenyan coffee as he edited my poems. A few months later, my book was published.

The book has taken me to many remarkable places including my alma mater, where it was taught in an English course, and the Jaipur Literature Festival, where I had the pleasure (and panic) of reading in front of thousands of people.

I have no idea where my second book, Firesmoke, will take me. All I know is that I’m still in love with words, and humbled to have the opportunity to read yours.

Sheniz Janmohamed
LaVaLab Literary Editor


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