The best poets throw out the rule book and speak plainly to you with electric words they pull from their veins of consciousness and then pour like lightning into the reader’s bones. Shima Aisha Robinson’s electric first book of poetry, Horn, will soon be available in a second printing. 

Few acts are more courageous and electric than truth. Autobiographical poetry, as Robinson defines her work, is thought and truth aloud on the page. “My book is about personal experience, friends and family, all the major themes, love and pain and [it also] explores politics. I tried to choose the most potent poems that communicated the issues.”

Robinson said she believes poetry “is a very effective tool for communication. I strive to put clear ideas into simple words that resonate. My main goal is to continue sharing, building, teaching people all the ways we create are okay. There is no golden rule in how to communicate your stories, feelings, art. It is all valid.”

She began writing poetry in junior and senior high school. “At university, I found poetry impersonal and difficult. I quit because I wanted to pursue a spoken word career.” Spoken word is meant to be performed for an audience, while published poetry is intended for a reader.

Making connections and friends at art shows and spoken word events, Robinson submersed herself into Edmonton pop arts, countercultures, and subcultures. “This helped me become more aware of my own politics, my aesthetic, and learn how to put my thought processes on paper, a revelation for me. I figured the best way to share it, short of being an amazing performer—not there yet—is by putting it in a book. People can digest the metaphors and other poetic aspects at their leisure.” 

Influenced by her artist mother, Robinson notes, “Now that she is a full-time artist, she is a lot happier. Aside from being an awesome mom, as an artist to the core, she supportively suggests ways to improve, points out obstacles hampering my process, offering a critical eye, ear and voice in my life.” 

The 118 Avenue arts community also showed an interest in Robinson. “I feel welcomed. People appreciate my presence and artwork. I have more intentions for future involvement in the Avenue than I have history.”

The festivals offered something Robinson now wants to return.

“People appreciated me for being there, for sharing, being vulnerable and showing my work,” said Robinson. She explained some people are limited and not offered many chances to use their voices. “Poetry is a great way to share feelings, appreciation and conflict in ways that are eloquent, accessible and appreciable.”

Robinson offers workshops through Alberta Health Services, a Boyle Street Co-op youth group, and other agencies and initiatives.

After burning out from all the events, shows, and from beginning her own poetry reading series, poetry also became “my way to dig myself out of burnout. I started to deal with the complexities of health care for people who are marginalized. That has been a major breakthrough for me. I found myself as a person. Poetry is one of the ways in which I exist fully.”

Header Image: Robinson started writing poetry in junior and senior high school. Credit: Rusti L. Lehay

Buy a copy of Horn here:


To spend an unbearably hot day

a heat in sleep,


cool toes slender feet

over knees shins and soles

Staring open eyes in the back of my neck

and to hell with heavy whispering

of little minstrels

from just another cold extremity

their tired songs tumble sick

from brass gilded instruments

would rather hear tell the best stories felt

remote possible fragments of immortal


vivid real to reach

eagerly forward

for fingertips touching warriors’

rock faces

bellowing reliefs

and stifling treacherous depressions

in these strange lands I’ve missed


up against

un-parted lips