Robin Richardson knew she wanted to be a writer in the second grade when she wrote a poem about a pumpkin for Halloween and found it to be one of the happiest processes she’d experienced up to that point.

The ironic part of her story is that she also failed the second grade because she couldn’t read or write. Over the next year, she was diagnosed with a severe form of dyslexia.

A specialist in London told her it was so crippling that she might not even make it to high school. Undeterred, Richardson spent the next four years at a school for children with learning disabilities and with the intense intervention, had little difficulty with dyslexia.

Richardson tells people not to be discouraged by negative diagnoses like that one she received. She is living proof of how ardent defiance, as she calls it, can lead to success. Since the second grade, she has dedicated herself to her writing and is now one of five who is shortlisted to win this year’s CBC Poetry Prize.

To read an interview with Richardson where she opens up about her love of poetry, as well as her dyslexia diagnosis, visit Canada Writes.