Adriana Onita

Adriana Onita's picture
Biography: 

Adriana Oniță lives at the intersection between poetry, art, and languages. Născută în București but currently living in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, AB), she writes poetry in Romanian, English, Spanish, French, and Italian. Her chapbook, Conjugated Light, was published by Glass Buffalo (March 2019) and she is the 2019 winner of the Canadian Literature Centre Poetry Contest. She is the founding editor of The Polyglot, a magazine that has published over 100 multilingual poets and artists in Canada (www.thepolyglotmagazine.com). A Killam scholarAdriana is currently pursuing her PhD in Second Language Education at the University of Alberta, where she also teaches.

Micro-interview: 
Did you read poetry when you were in high school? Is there a particular poem that you loved when you were a teenager?: 

Absolutely! As a teenager, I remember reading e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, and Christina Rossetti. I was obsessed with “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe. In my Grade 9 L.A. class, I even wrote a "remix" or parody of this poem. I was lucky to have brilliant teachers in junior high and high school who made space for creative, fun, inspiring poetry projects like that. I even remember analyzing Eminem's “8 Mile” for an English class!

When did you first start writing poetry? And then when did you start thinking of yourself as a poet?: 

I started very young! Poetry is embedded in my mother language and culture (Romanian). I remember memorizing and reciting poems at home and school at five years old. I began writing poetry in grade three, and continued throughout my schooling, but it wasn't until I studied with Derek Walcott (Nobel laureate in literature) in university that I gained the courage to start imagining myself as a poet. I was around 20 years old when I began to take poetry seriously, and incorporated it into my research, my teaching, and my community work. It was also in my twenties that I realized I can mix and play with the languages I know. I read bilingual poets like Gloria Anzaldua, Oana Avasilichioaei, Maurice Kilwein Guevara, Tato Laviera. So I now write in Romanian, English, Spanish, Italian, and French — sometimes within the same poem!

What do you think a poet’s “job” is?: 

I once asked a 10-year old the same thing and she said: “to inspire an absolute sense of freedom.” But I won't steal her answer (lol).

I would say a poet's job should involve a mixture of both individual and community work. Yes, we should work at our writing, experiment with language, and perfect our craft. But we must also remember that poetry, historically, has been a social and political activity. We must make space for others to thrive and to have their voices heard. This is why I consider myself a poet, but I'm also a community arts-organizer with the Edmonton Poetry Festival and The Polyglot magazine.

If you had to choose one poem to memorize from our anthology, which one would it be?: 

I would memorize “From thirsty by Dionne Brand because it is full of passion and great imagery. Also, you have a poem by one of my current favourite poets, Ocean Vuong, “Deto(nation),” that is so powerful. I don't know if I could recite it without weeping, though.

Publications: 
Poem title(s): 
Myth over Matter
Title: 
Translation and Memory
Publisher: 
Transcultural: A Journal of Translation and Cultural Studies
Editors: 
Elena Siemens
Date: 
2016
Publication type: 
Periodical/Magazine
Title: 
Conjugated Light
Publisher: 
Glass Buffalo
Date: 
2019
Publication type: 
Book
Poem title(s): 
Perdele, Totul, Everyone tells me to leave Edmonton
Title: 
Crosswalks, Subjective Fashion, CanLit: Curating our Canons
Publisher: 
The Polyglot
Date: 
2017, 2018
Publication type: 
Anthology