“Poetry of Immigration” at Simon Fraser University, presented by Nilofar Shidmehr

Note: upon the request of Nilofar Shidmehr to present her pager: “Poetry of Immigration” at Simon Fraser University, I wrote this and selected three poems of mine for her. Congratulations to Nilofar for her great presentation in Vancouver in Nov, 2016.

Born in China, immigrating to Canada in 1999 and working as an IT professional for years, I always thought for many immigrants language was the biggest challenge. After my son was born in 2000, I tried to write journals to improve my English and record my son’s growth. But with my busy IT job and my son’s need for attention, it was hard to find any time to write. In 2003, after reading stories to my son, the “Child” in me awakened to ask the question: Who Are you? Who am I? A poem came to me. I never knew that the cultural soil in a new world would nurture in me a soul seeking liberation, one that looks for truth about the human spirit. That awareness not only saved me from our common limited reality, but also developed my empathy for suffering. In 2005, my poem “Toronto, No More Weeping” was broadcast by CBC Radio for hope and peace. I followed these intuitions and began translating American, and Canadian poets into Chinese.  Through my own writing and translations, I have found poetry enlarged my sense of the world, and developed my emotional sensitivity and hope.  My faith in poetry led me to design my Poetry Alive program which combines computer arts, audience participation and true stories to inspire the wider public and help them to explore and write poetry.

Being a poet, I am grateful that writing liberates me to live a simple yet rich life. Although that has had some financial challenge, I am peaceful and feel not lost since I find meaning in life. In 2013, I was recommended and elected as the Ontario representative for the League of Canadian Poets. Through this, I have been connected with many fine poets. I began to promote poetry events and designed posters to list poets as celebrities. Why not? Poetry has always been the highest literary form.  I have also combined poetry with other art forms to encourage wider audience to appreciate poetry.

In 2015, I was glad to be appointed as Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate. I was happy to use my time in this position to work towards achieving these four key objectives: serving as a literary ambassador, advocating for poetry and literary arts in Mississauga, raising the profile of local writers and also creating an artistic legacy through public readings and other events.

While penning new poems and helping stage a series of poetry events in the city, I have been particularly pleased with the ongoing haiku walking tour project. The participants go for a tour of parts of Mississauga with me and are encouraged to write about what they see and experience. This open our minds and let us feel the peace and beauty of nature.

When being invited to read poems for Canada Day, I have written new poems: “Hello, Canada” and “The Red Maple” which truly express our country Canada has gone through many difficulties to realize its values of freedom and fairness.  I am very grateful and proud to be a part of this process.

–Anna Yin (Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate)


Three poems about Immigrant theme (My Accent, Root Carving, Immigrant)