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  • Writer's pictureChristine Latif

Artist Feature- Lili Yao

Hello everyone. Hope you all are doing well. We are back yet again for another incredible artist feature here at ASF. As an organization, we want to feature creative teen artists in order to support them, help them to grow, and so that our audience can get to know them better. This week, we interviewed Lili Yao. She is an incredible writer from Canada who is passionate about poetry and loves to drink iced coffee.

1. Name, age, and where are you from? Are there any fun facts about yourself? My name is Lili Yao and I’m currently seventeen years old. Despite being born in California, I’ve lived in Toronto for the majority of my life and have no intention on leaving the city any time soon! I’m an avid iced-coffee drinker who you’ll either find at the comfort of her home or at Starbucks with her laptop working on poetry. 2. How did you first get into music, art, and spoken word? Growing up, I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing. In fact, English has consistently been my favourite subject at school since the third grade. Some of my fondest memories in my childhood are attending book fairs at school as I recall being beyond ecstatic the night before the opening day to get my hands on the latest Geronimo Stilton novel. I’ve always been fascinated with how therapeutic writing can be, as it is such a creative outlet to make sense of one’s feelings on both the author and reader’s parts. Despite dabbling in various forms of writing throughout my adolescence, (essays, short stories, editorials, poetry), I never wrote for purposes outside of schoolwork until quarantine, when I began to write poetry. Without a doubt, quarantine provided me with more free time than usual, and consequently, more time to sit with my thoughts. As a result, I saw this as an opportunity to self reflect and reevaluate my values. Thus, my poetry manifests the emotions I’ve experienced during these troubled times.  3. Who or what are your biggest inspirations that motivate you to create art or write music? Some of my biggest inspirations that motivate me to write poetry are honestly my family and friends! As a large portion of my poetry revolves around the relationships I have with others in my life, I often write with the intention, “What would I say to this particular individual if it was my last time seeing them,” or “What does this particular individual need to hear right now.” I find that with these wiring prompts, the words flow out more authentically. In addition, I derive much of my inspiration from nature, as I find that there are interesting coincidences that occur in our environment that make great similes and metaphors to represent my feelings!  4. How do you plan on using your art and music to spread awareness or make a difference in the world? I intend on using my poetry to shed light on taboo subjects in society and therefore, start conversations to connect with others. With more people comfortable with sharing their own stories, we can tear down the stigma surrounding many of the social issues found in society today. At the end of the day, I believe we learn best through listening and relating to the experiences others’ have undergone.  5. What is your favorite piece of art that you have created so far? How about your favorite piece of music that you have written? My favourite piece of poetry that I’ve created is “earth day,” because despite its short length, I was able to get my message across, which relates to self care and allowing oneself to clear their mind! 6. What are your current or future goals with your art, music, and spoken word? Currently, I definitely would want to simply read and write more to improve my writing, as practice makes perfect. In the future, I do hope to publish my own poetry book to reach a larger audience and hopefully bond with others through my work!  7. If you had the opportunity to spend a day with your favorite artist or musician, who would it be and why? If I had the opportunity to spend a day with my favourite artist, it’d definitely be Mariah Carey! Despite her iconic voice, her songwriting skills are tremendously overlooked. As parallels can be drawn between poetry and song lyrics, she is an immense inspiration to me since the messages of her songs have always resonated. Not to mention, her road to stardom is a true example of how hard work, resilience, and passion pays off in the long run, even when odds are against you.  8. Do you have any advice or tips for people that are interested in music and art? A piece of advice for anyone interested in poetry is to write what you feel and feel what you write!

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