HHSS student’s poetry featured in new book
By Darren Lum
Tears of joy were shed, marking an occasion that was a dream fulfilled for a high school student with a love of the English language.
Anabelle Craig remembers being compelled to cry happily when she saw the two boxes filled with copies of her book of poetry, Regarding the Decomposition of Words published by Writers Republic at her home on March 9, representing an effort rooted in passion, and with the support of family, friends and fans.
“There’s been a lot of really happy tears,” she said. “It’s been a roller coaster of emotions. Mostly, happy. Yeah, I still can’t believe this is happening. I had to pinch myself. So, it’s been a lot of really happy tears. Hard to believe this is areal. Definitely.”
The fifth-year student at Haliburton Highlands Secondary School spoke to the Echo from the school’s lobby last month about the 100 page paperback book she produced. She is still processing the mix of emotions that have come with publishing her first book.
From the passion she exuded in describing her literary achievement, it’s not likely to be her last.
She’s already sold close to 40 books of 250 copies printed, which includes sales to more than just family and friends.
“Yeah, I did not necessarily expect that a stranger would buy one. So that was really kind of special,” she said.
The manuscript includes poems from Grade 10 and 11, and the last several months from October to January.
Love of the word is at the core of how she ended up completing her book.
Craig loves everything about the English language, particularly learning about the origins of words. Among her prized possessions are dictionaries. One is an Oxford English Dictionary from the 1950s, which she bought at Castle Antiques and Cafe in Haliburton. This copy possesses the unique feature of being able to be taken apart and put back together, and the other was a dictionary of etymology – study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history – for Christmas from her grandmother. Once upon a word, a gift from her mother is a word-origin dictionary she highly recommends for parents and teachers.
The idea of the book of poetry started October 2021 while in class thinking about the possibility of completing her own book, she said. It inspired her to research how to self-publish, which led her to find Writers Republic.
“It’s been a whirlwind. Yeah, it’s been quite a journey,” she said.
She credits help came from HHSS English teacher and school librarian Trish Wootton, who was her editor (along with her mother, who also completed the artwork on the cover), and the support of friends and parents.
Craig is looking forward to moving on to new challenges.
This autumn she hopes to enrol at Trent University for either English literature program, or the literature and cultural studies program.
Her doubts about identifying as a poet, and her place within a creative family were put to rest in some ways by completing this book.
“So, doing this I learned that I am and I can be, and I can be finally learning the lessons that my parents have been [giving] me for like 18 years,” she said.
She remembers her initial reaction to poetry was less than positive while in English class.
When class requirements demanded she write a poem something clicked within her.
“So, I just wrote and I realized that, hey, I actually like this. So, every year, I wrote some more and in Grade 11 it stopped being writing just for a project and started being writing to express myself and kind of snowballed from there,” she said.
Craig said this book serves as an example of her bravery, even if not achieved alone.
“My parents have been amazing with this,” she said, both within a few steps away in the school’s lobby.“And, they’ve been fabulous. And, so everybody who is going to read it that’s just all the people that are like, yeah, sure, I’ll take a chance on this teenager, who published a book. That’s kind of cool.”
She adds her friends have also been supportive of her throughout the process and are happy for her achievement. Craig also credited all her teachers from her time as a home school student and in public school. All of this support was instrumental in this process.
“Even when I was like, there’s no way I can do this. They’ve been behind me and saying, ‘yes, you can, and you’re going to.’ That’s been really amazing to see. And just the fact that it is real, and then I took this step, deciding to do this on a whim,” she said. “Over the first [wave of the] pandemic, I was like, I want to publish something, but I never did anything with it, because I didn’t think it’s possible. And then on a whim, I did. And, I’m so proud that I stuck with it and made it happen. It’s not very often that young folks get to see their dreams become a reality, especially when it’s something like publish a book.”
There is an opportunity for more with this though.
Through Writers Republic, her book’s manuscript will be sent to publishing houses, who may pick up the book to publish.
Craig said to her success is being able to hold her creation, and to sell enough books to cover publishing expenses.
“I’m happy that it exists. It’s like a tangible object. It’s no longer this idea. It’s like a tangible thing. And so, yes, success No. 1 is it’s real and No. 2 would be to pay off the costs. And then, if more comes out of it, I would be thrilled. I would be over the moon,” she said.
Purchase the book by contacting Anabelle Craig through her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or through Writers Republic at www.writersrepublic.com/bookshop/regarding-decomposition-words.