Pacific Northwest comes beautifully into Focus in Kid Poet’s Collection

173
Abigail Strauss grouped the poems and photographs in Poetry in Focus according to their seasons. Photos/Abigail Strauss
- Advertisement -

When Abigail Strauss says she just published her first book of poetry, she doesn’t mean she simply penned the poems in the collection.

The poised and exuberant 11-year-old means she tended to every detail, bringing her beautiful cycle of seasonal nature poems and photography, “Poetry in Focus”, to vibrant life on the page. 

From writing and editing to marketing and promotions, Abigail has handled – and continues to handle – all aspects of her 116-page debut.

“It was a passion project that I started a little over a year ago,” she said. “I started writing poems and taking pictures of nature. Eventually, I amassed a little collection.”

The poems are written across a variety of forms such as haiku, sonnet, and monorhyme – some well-known, others more obscure –
that Abigail discovered while taking a deep dive into the subject as part of her “unschooling” studies.

She and her younger brothers, Evan, 9, and Isaac, 7, learn at home with a student-led homeschool style that uses each kid’s particular interests as a platform for weaving foundational material like math, science, and language arts and uses the whole world as a boundless classroom. 

Abigail is the age of an average 5th grader. Each poem in her book includes the style she followed, making it a lesson in poetic forms for other young (and not so young) readers.

While she grouped her poems by the cycle of the seasons – Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter – she also learned the life cycle of a book.

“I started off writing poems and then taking photos came in, then matching those up. Writing more, taking more (pictures), editing, working, and finally,” she says, holding up the book with a smile, “this…You go full circle with all the poems (through the seasons beginning and ending in Spring). I enjoyed using that format because I feel like there’s rhyme and reason to it.”

Along the way, the project became a lesson in editing, photography, layout and design, proofreading, self-publishing, marketing, and promotions, all of which she took the lead on.  

“The amount that she’s learned in the process is just insane,” says her mom, Rachel Strauss. “Looking up pricing of certain types of prints, and the sheets and the backing and the paper. Investing your money into a business and how to market it. That’s the stuff we really love in our type of homeschooling. We have the time and space to support (our kids) in these interests that they have.”

Abigail self-published “Poetry in Focus” using KDP, Amazon’s publishing service, with guidance from Rachel, who’s been through the process a few times herself and also has a traditionally published book.

“It was really helpful because she knows a lot of tricks to help the process go faster,” Abigail said. 

But the true muse was the natural world with a bit of inspiration from a favorite poet Abigail sees as a kindred spirit, Emily Dickinson.

“I like her poems because some of them describe small things, things that you hardly even notice,” she said of Dickinson. “That’s sort of what poetry is, changing your perspective and making you see the same thing you’ve seen before, but in a different way.”

Those sometimes easily missed, wonderous little details are precisely where Abigail loves to linger. From the mushrooms and moss to the sky and stars, her poems are a love letter to the wider world around her.

When the family of five relocated to Tualatin from the Bay area two years ago, they collectively fell head over heels for their new Pacific Northwest home, especially the acres of nature just outside their door.

“The book would not exist if we hadn’t moved from the Bay Area to here,” Rachel said. “It’s the nature of the Pacific Northwest that really pulled it out of her.” 

That, and her mom and dad’s enthusiastic encouragement.

Abigail selected pieces for the book from her entire body of work, more than 100 poems, culling those that didn’t quite fit the theme. 

Like all good writers, she held on to the cut file, giving her the strong start of a second collection. 

The follow-up to “Poetry in Focus” could be centered on emotion, the topic that’s presently captivating her, she said. 

While she’s not 100 percent certain of the theme, she’s positive that writing will be central to her life for many years to come.

 “I really like seeing people’s reactions when I show them how I see things as a poet,” she said. “It’s really cool because it opens a window into my world.” 

Poetry in Focus is available at Tualatin Public Library, or you can order a copy online on amazon.com.

You can visit Abigail Strauss’ website at www.abigailstrauss.com.

- Advertisement -