Inspiration and Influence: A Literary Journey

Images, Audio Interview and Feature Article by Sophie Z., Concordia Applied Journalism

Is it really worth it to drop everything at hand and simply open a book? What is it like to become immersed into someone else's twisting plot – to experience a vicarious journey? Many students at Concordia might find these questions difficult to answer, being surrounded by the noise and distractions around them: the pencils scribbling, the keyboards clicking, the notifications buzzing beside them. Within the crowd, however, you can always spot an avid reader: they're sitting cosily in a corner with a book in hand on an inward escape from reality.

     Henie scans a wizarding cookbook, allowing herself to be             entertained and inspired.

Henie Z., a junior at Concordia and the co-editor of Zeitgeist could possibly be one of the most passionate readers and writers in our community. She draws a strong link between her love for reading and her approach to writing. 

Henie’s passion began when her mother, also extremely passionate about literacy, introduced her to novels and books.  “My Mom would take me to museums and libraries every single day when I was younger,” she recalls.

Henie’s interactions with reading and writing grew when her mother introduced her to writing in Chinese. "She forced me to write diary entries that I didn’t want to write,” she remembers. This painful journey proved to play a significant part in Henie’s accomplishments and enduring interest in reading and writing today.

“I like reading because it takes me away from this world, explains Henie. "I don't want to be here sometimes, so I can become someone else.” She continues, “I identify myself in other characters. I can morph into another character like a 'rented' body.”

Henie, doing something she's done a thousand times, reaches for a new book to read in the Concordia Middle and High School Library.

Henie reflects that she reads and writes “mainly for escape,” not because the society is not appealing, but that she desires to experience an “alternate reality,” something that she is able to attain through these two activities.

Henie is especially engaged with reading fiction and poetry genres so this influences her writing style. While fiction is a natural route for escape, Henie was actually introduced to poetry during a summer camp experience. "Everybody in my class were poets and none of them wrote fiction,” she laughs.  "The slam poets infused rhythm into poetry and performed it, making it so much more powerful.”

J. K. Rowling, Donna Tartt, Khalid Hosseini, and Rick Riordan are fiction writers that Henie really enjoys reading. As well, she has been touched by Hanif Abdurraqib, an African-American poet who writes about grief and heartbreak. "These authors and poets have helped me shape my voice," she explains. As for fiction, Henie allows herself to “rip off ideas from my favorite authors," she says jokingly. 

As she muses about her future, Henie predicts, "I don't want to be poor, so I probably don't want to jump directly into publishing and writing because that’s really hard.” Taking the long view, however, she is keeping writing in her sights. "I will pursue it in the future," she explains. "I want to publish my own books, even though I don't necessarily want to write for a living unless I’m sure I can do it really well.”

Determined to continue pursuing her interest in writing, she allows herself to be guided by a quotation by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi: “Silence is the language of God. All else is poor translation.”  

Interested in reading some of Henie's writing and that of others in our community? Check out the electronic version of Zeitgeist among other Concordia publications.

Sophie Z. is a student of Concordia Applied Journalism