I read voraciously as a child. I imagine anyone would in my position; I had a loving family, but I was teased mercilessly throughout elementary school. I spent most of my time alone: sitting in my favorite corner of the school library thumbing through the bookshelves, wandering into the forest next to my school and imagining being on a daring adventure. I became fast friends with a dog whose owner lived in a house right next to the field; I would tell him that, one day, we’ll explore exciting places far away from here.
My urge to read everything I could get my hands on got me into trouble. I was reprimanded in Grade Six for reading books meant only for Grade Seven students (the highest grade in my school) and scolded for reading Seventeen magazines when I was nowhere close to being in the “appropriate” age range. Still, I held onto books and the small sense of freedom and hope they gave me because, at the time, they were all I had. This world of brave girls and quests and imaginary lands made me feel less alone.
In Grade Five I started writing down the stories I would make up in my head to pass the time. They were strange—one was about a small snake trying to follow a wagon train à la Little House on the Prairie, while another was about a tennis ball who rolled away from his family—but my teachers liked them, so I felt encouraged to keep going. Eventually, I found my way into Honours English and AP English in high school, where I fell in love with Shakespeare’s plays and the Romantic poets and, surprisingly enough, James Joyce’s Dubliners (if you’re reading this Mr. Wallace, thank you for bringing us to so many Bard on the Beach performances and letting us read Dubliners). I read its final short story—”The Dead”—over and over again, struck by the epiphany that nearly brought Gabriel Conroy to his knees. Maybe this story came to me at the right time; on the cusp of graduation, not knowing what I wanted to do while telling everyone I had a plan. I bought a copy while I was in Québec the summer before I started college, holding it close when I made the sudden decision to change my major.
I’ve had a few small epiphanies since then: realizing this is what I’ve always wanted to do while sitting in my honors Arts program, when I decided to go to grad school for cinema studies, the first time someone told me my poetry meant something to them. I’ve been chasing that sudden clarity since, that breathless moment when everything either fits into place or shatter in the most exalting way possible. When I read, watch, or experience something that makes time stop around me, it etches itself into my memories, like it’s a part of me now.
Maybe that’s what drove me to establish my online literary and art journal L’Éphémère Review and dive deeper into writing and editing and becoming a better literary citizen; chasing epiphanies and sharing them with as many people as I can. Stories have intrinsically changed who I am as a person and giving back to the communities that shaped me is the least I can do. This is why I’m grateful I have the opportunity to work for Sundress Publications; we are all made up of stories that deserve to be told, and being able to help others tell their stories is something I feel like I was meant to do.
Kanika Lawton holds a BA in Psychology with a Minor in Film Studies from the University of British Columbia and an MA from the University of Toronto’s Cinema Studies Institute. She is the Editor-In-Chief of L’Éphémère Review, a 2018 Pink Door Fellow, and a 2020 BOAAT Writer’s Retreat Poetry Fellow. Her work has appeared in Ricepaper Magazine, Vagabond City Literary Journal, Glass Poetry, and Cosmonauts Avenue, among others.