All of ten, Ria Arora’s poem on COVID-19 conjures the world we are living in right now with depth and beauty. Small wonder, then, that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has shared it on his Facebook page when he received it from the Year 5 student of Westbourne Grammar School in Truganina.
The poem has received more than 13,000 likes, 1.7k shares and 1.3k comments. Young Ria says she was ‘shocked at first and then very happy’ when her mom Teena showed her how proudly Morrison has displayed the poem on his Facebook post with the words, “Beautifully said, Ria.” He also thanks her and reaffirms the concluding line in her poem: “We can do this together.”
“I couldn’t believe it, then I got excited about that gradually. I got a lot of phone calls too,” she adds.
For now, Ria is enjoying her new-found stardom. With her school teacher also sharing the poem in class, the congratulatory messages and phone calls have not stopped.
Asked how the idea of the poem came about, Ria says, “When I got to know that we were going to be in lockdown for another six weeks, I was sad that we wouldn’t be able to go out or see our friends. So, I decided to write down my feelings in a poem.”
A lover of mystery books and poetry, Ria started writing poetry about five years ago. “I began by writing little ones in my diaries, some for school. I just pick a topic that I haven’t written about,” she says, in her very soft tone.
Although Ria admits to not having a favourite poet, her favourite poem is Lucy Gray by William Wordsworth. One of Wordsworth’s best poems, it was written in 1799 and published in his Lyrical Ballads. For the uninitiated, the poem describes the death of a young girl named Lucy Gray, who went out one evening into a storm.
Ria says she likes Lucy Gray because of “the descriptive language” in the poem. “I like the imagination Wordsworth has put in it and I am fascinated by the character of Lucy Gray in the poem,” she explains.
How does someone as young as her understand the art and nuance of poetry? She believes it comes from the fascination with the English language, a subject she loves at school. “We learn about different types of techniques that can make your writing better, and, as a matter of fact, we are learning all about poems as well in English right now,” she says.
There is also spontaneity and rigour in her work. “It doesn’t take me that long to write a poem. I just write down what I feel and then I take my time to edit it. I think of what makes sense. Sometimes, I just replace a word with more descriptive ones. For writing this Covid one, it took me half an hour to 45 minutes.”
There is, in her poems, many orders of enjoyment, but Ria is clear about her priorities. “Poetry is just a hobby. I would like to become a vet when I grow up because I loves animals.”
Proud parents Gurpreet and Teena say they encourage their daughter to write, a fact Ria endorses. “Mom says when I start writing more, I can start my own blog.”
Right now, Ria is penning another poem on Spring. But before you think otherwise, she says, “I do other stuff too such as netball and swimming.”
Ria might not understand the power of social media just yet and the popularity she has earned. But she does know how to write as she sees or feels. Most of all, she is not afraid to express her inner voice on page.
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All of ten, Ria Arora’s #poem on #COVID19 conjures the world we are living in right now with depth & beauty. Small wonder, then, that @ScottMorrisonMP has shared it on his FB page when he received it from the Year 5 student. #TheIndianSun @indira_laisramhttps://t.co/5gTJuIMnj3
— The Indian Sun (@The_Indian_Sun) September 1, 2020