Local 18-year-old publishes 3rd poetry book titled “Paint Us Red”
By Mackenzie Mason, Arts Editor
2020 was a dull, upsetting year that impacted the creativity, motivation and ability of writers, actors, performers and artists to create inspiring and captivating work — but not Cassandra Wood.
During the haunting and disappointing 12 months of 2020, Wood, who writes her poetry under the pen name CM Writer, managed to create and publish her own poetry book Wonder of the Cosmos and a poetic collaboration with 18 other women from 9 countries titled Paint Us Red — and she’s only 18 years old.
While she said writing two books in a year was a challenge, COVID-19 positively impacted her creativity and allowed her the time to be alone with her thoughts which is “where inspiration stems.”
“Poetry brings me continual joy, as I reach self-contentment with myself, and help my readers who are on their own journeys to recovery. Each vulnerable poem I share, it seems, gives a voice to someone struggling,” says the first-year Biomedical Student at the University of Calgary.
“It encourages me to share more personal poems that detail my experiences with mental health, discovering my sexuality, and being a young woman. Writing is a dialogue with oneself but when shared with others, it becomes a conversation with the world.”
She began writing poetry in the early spring of 2018 as a way to cope with and understand her emotions.
“I was struggling with my mental health, and more so, how to communicate my emotions to others in order to reach out and get the help I needed. If not for poetry, I do not know where I would be today,” she states.
“Discovering this form of creativity has allowed me to uncover who I am truly meant to be. It has fostered self-growth in ways I never imagined and its positive impacts flow through me in all aspects of my life.”
Her most recent publication Paint Us Red speaks the voices of 19 women, and “provides strength and resilience to all who have ever been knocked down,” she says.
“I wanted to be a guiding voice to all the women [who have been] wrongfully marked, apprehended, blamed, accused, or judged. I wanted to inspire women to take back their worth, their belonging and their power,” she says.
“If we are always being caught red-handed anyway, paint us red.”
The collaboration explores what it means to be a woman, tackling mental health, feminism and body image, providing a global lens into the experiences of women.
“I think the project was unified on the basis of women [around the world] having shared experiences in their lives and women wanting to raise each other up to become their best selves.”
Wood describes the process of collaborating with women from around the world as a “very inspiring and humbling experience.”
“Since I joined the poetry community of Instagram over two years ago, I have had the opportunity to meet, engage and interact with many highly inspirational female poets. I knew I wanted Paint Us Red to be a collaborative project, so I reached out to many of the women I looked up to in the community,” she says.
She worked with other successful female poets such as @srwpoetry, @theshefalidang and @iamlenamora on Instagram to create the project.
“To have these fellow writers want to work with me on this project was empowering and to hear their stories through their poetry was heartbreaking, encouraging and forever memorable.”
While the young writer has succeeded to publish three poetry novels and has created a significant community on her Instagram account @cm.writer with 16.7 thousand followers, Wood is not sure if poetry is the career path she will take.
What she is sure about is her love for poetry and the crucial role it’s played in her life.
“At the end of the day, poetry is something I love doing for myself. So I will continue to write it, for myself. Poetry is something I plan to pursue as a lifelong passion. Where that will take me is still unknown, but I know great things are coming.”
“Poetry is something I love but more than that, it’s something I need. It would be a dream to be picked up by a publishing house, but I will continue to write throughout my entire life regardless.”
She says in the long term, she hopes poetry continues to bring a voice to important issues and allows her to elevate her self-love journey, and “harness an engaged community dedicated to finding joy in their own lives.”