#TPQ5: AVALINA ROBIN HARVEY

Sylvia Plath, Ariel

I’ve carried this book everywhere for decades now since I was 17, a rarity since I’ve discarded so many along the way. Every year I learn something new, from the near-spite reflected in the imagery and structure of Daddy or the simple subject matter, succinct yet complex, in Tulips. I have a dark side. Her remarkable talent has helped me tame and refine it.

Adrienne Rich

With insight, anger, and breadth of scope unheard of before, this woman put a name to what I had been since I was a child. A feminist. She gave me courage and I learned, especially from Diving into the Wreck about the journey and the fight to come. She made me feel less alone and gave me permission to be myself, a born warrior, proud to take my place.

Ian Williams, Personals

He’s a Canuck like I am. He’s also found ways to meld poetic expression with unique themes and structure as a wordsmith reflecting our maddening, confusing, 21st Century. He’s helps me take risks in my work.

Ovid, Metamorphoses

No poet, IMHO, can produce quality work if they ignore the past, the genius that came before. Ovid was an epic storyteller and I think poetry must aim to be epic, even when telling the most mundane stories. The mythology of the past inspires me.

John Berryman, 77 Dream Songs

In this work, Berryman creates distinct voices to contrast, contextualize and give commentary and perspective. His (when published) contemporary language was in slang and the everyday. He always draws me into his remarkably gritty world of characters, the fantastic and the manic. This mix has always gripped me. The “songs” read like spoken-word poetry to me.


Avalina Robin Harvey started out an actor in Canadian repertory theater. Later, moved on to become an award-winning journalist at The Toronto Star in positions as diverse as an editor, columnist, reporter, investigative reporter, manager and, eventually, the public editor. Beyond the frenzied fodder from her own life, the people, places, and predicaments she covered while there are fundamental to her work.

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