ALA Virtual Conference 2020

Every Word a Poem with Sophia Thakur at #ALAVirtual20

I will admit that I was not familiar with poet and storyteller Sophia Thakur before her featured presentation at #ALAVirtual20. Several minutes into it, my family could find me crying in the kitchen at her beautiful and inspiring words. (Shedding tears of joy/inspiration/amazement is a common occurrence for me at ALA, and now my family gets to witness this during the virtual conference).

Poet and storyteller Sophia Thakur was a featured speaker at ALAVirtual20
Image courtesy of ALA Virtual, available from https://2020.alavirtualevent.org/speaker/sophia-thakur

Thakur is a “performance poet” from the United Kingdom. Throughout her presentation, she recited some of her poems, but EVERYTHING she said was itself a poem. I am hoping for a transcript because I was desperately trying to write down every word that she said. She epitomized her statement that “Poetry is in the gap between art and conversation.”

She talked about literacy and empathy. She encouraged people to tell their own stories because literacy is a tool to explore the self. Reading empowers through windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors because “new pages, new people, new ways to live/love/and learn.” When you are having trouble writing or when you are hurt or lied to, that is when you should WRITE! As Thakur eloquently explained, “writing is easy; living is the hard part.” She also shared a recording of her poem “Dear Cancer” performed with her brother Latir Thakur. It was absolutely incredible in its beauty, sadness, and truth.

I am pre-ordering her book, “Somebody Give This Heart a Pen” (see, even the title is beautiful and poetic!) from a local independent bookstore. It will be released in the United States on September 8. In the meantime, she has some TED talks and Youtube videos that I want to watch. (How I wished that I had gotten to see her in person at ALA as I really want to meet her!)

Sophia Thakur's book, "Somebody Give This Heart a Pen" will be released in the US on September 8, 2020.

She explained that when she was in school, poetry was like “maths,” and students were taught to analyze it or memorize it by rote. But, Thakur explains that “Poetry is in EVERYTHING.” She elaborated that poetry is in “birthday cards…the first kiss…your mom’s cooking.”

I am truly inspired, and I can’t wait to find more poetry in the world…and in Day 2 of #ALAVirtual20.

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