Lakeside resident Ailana Larson wrote and illustrated her first book when she was 6 years old. Her mother used to recite the poem "The Swing" by Robert Louis Stevenson as they played in the backyard.
Now 67, Ailana is an award-winning poet who recently took home a trophy during the 25th Annual Austin International Poetry Festival. Ailana competed in a Haiku Death Match against international, state, and local poets.
A member of the Austin Poetry Society, the Maui Live Poets Society, and the International Poetry Society, Ailana has presented her work in several different venues over the years. Her pieces have been presented on stage, through music and in publications. For two consecutive years, she had the prestigious honor of being a judge for the Martin Luther King Peace Poem submissions from students throughout the State of Hawaii.
She boldly and joyously recites poetry to everyone she meets. Her listeners are sometimes inspired to revisit their long-forgotten writing, or begin to write poetry of their own.
The response to her sharing often is, "I was having a terrible day, and now I feel good -- I'm so inspired."
Ailana says that's the point.
“It’s your duty that if you have a gift like that, then you have to share it,” she said.
Ailana's success is a source of pride for Lakeside. And she is sharing her gift with others beyond her community by publishing a book of her own poetry.
This summer her 185-page book of poetry called “Rants, Poetry and Prayers” will be released. One of her favorite poems to be included in the collection is titled, “Swans.” Living on Lady Bird Lake allowed Ailana to capture the beauty and surprise of two graceful swans emerging through the fog.
“I write about everything, and although some poets don't rhyme at all, I love it," she said. "Rhymes just jump right out of me. I'm like Paul Simon - Rhyming Simon."
Ailana's partnership with Family ElderCare and Badgerdog provided by HACA gave her the opportunity to publish her first works. She even hosted a monthly poetry event at the Lakeside community for a year. She currently attends free evening poetry classes through Badgerdog where she meets other wonderful poets.
“I am now part of a group that is lead by a wide variety of instructors who offer new and different styles of poetry instruction," she said. "This has built a peer community which continues to enhance my literary skills and bring about friendships. I feel like I’m HOME.”
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