Through the Eyes of a Poet, feature #14
Poet Anna Shtorm
Through the Eyes of a Poet series by Christina M. Ward
Featured Poet: Anna Shtorm
Objective: To encourage people to broaden their reading interests through poetry, support the poetry community, and introduce you to poets and their personal stories.
For updates on this series: Join this Author Newsletter.
Hello all you poetry lovers and fans of poets everywhere.
I am excited to share with you today the story of a poet. It fascinates me how I can sit here in my Mother’s farmhouse in rural North Carolina, on a Saturday afternoon, with Alexa playing me some nice meditation tunes, and tell you about a poet halfway around the globe.
Isn’t is glorious how poetry can unite us like this thread of creativity that can string across borders and oceans and cultures? So, yes, I am excited to bring you a bit of the inside story of a poet named Anna Shtorm, whose last name I have butchered over and over as I have prepared her post. (Please forgive me, Anna, if my typing fingers get it wrong anywhere, will you?)
But yes, this lovely poetess—let’s take a look at her and her work!
Anna is from Saint Petersburg, Russia, where she learned of her gift from a very young age. She began writing at the age of 4 and was encouraged by her grandmother who recognized her talent and pressed her to continue to pursue writing. I interviewed Anna about her childhood, what helped to develop her as a poet and artist, and about her poetic works. Please enjoy this story of a poet.
Childhood Shapes Us
Anna, tell me a bit about yourself, where you come from, and what your childhood was like.
I was born in Leningrad, USSR in 1987. I moved to the city of Penza at the age of 4, because my mom could not handle the arranged marriage she was put in. Mom secretly packed her stuff and left the house of my father and never came back. I was raised in a (typical for Russia) same-sex family. My mother worked three different jobs and my grandmother took care of the house. She also put her 5 cents in the process of my education by yelling at me and reminding me that I am just like my father.
My grandmother played a huge role in my artistic development as she was a teacher of Russian literature and the director of the school theatre. She made me love reading as our neighborhood library was her favorite spot. When I was little, she showed me how to rhyme and gave me the credits for the poems that she probably wrote herself or we wrote together. It seems to me that she was obsessed with making me successful as a writer. But she also compared me a lot to her friends’ talented kids, so I had an impression that I was a total failure.
When I was 18, I got a chance to go to the United States, and it was life changing for me. I experienced cultural shock not when I entered The States, but when I came back to Russia. I saw my country for the first time, really. By separating from it emotionally, I could see all these little imperfections and absurdities that surrounded me through my entire life there. So I decided that I should travel more to broaden my horizons. I did a couple exchange programs, lived here and there.
In 2014, I moved to Poland and started my career in IT in addition to writing. Today, I have a Master’s degree in Journalism.
Anna, the Poet
Tell us a little about your work as a poet.
I like to describe human emotions the way they appear as relatable to many people. I am a highly sensitive person. Regular things that other people will not even notice knock me down. Sometimes it is so hard to recover that I use poetry as a coping skill to process what I feel. (Christina, you had a great Medium article on it.) But I do not want to just whine about it, I want to make it useful and entertaining. I want people to read my poetry, nod and say ‘Yep, I felt that too!’ And that means that we as human beings have shared experiences which is important if we want to understand each other and treat each other with respect.
(Author’s note: This is the article Anna was referring to on HSP: Turn Your HSP into a Creative Gift)
What inspires me? I combine my never ending love for rhymes with everyday observations. It’s little things in life that could sum up a joyful experience or make you feel like nothing makes sense. Your everyday bus trip to work or the person who you constantly meet in the supermarket. Those are little pieces of your life’s puzzle.
Describe the vision/style/content/etc of your poetry?:
I consider myself a new formalist. I like rhymes, to be honest, I believe there is no shame in so-called forced rhymes if you use it ironically. I know that is not in favor of modern English poetry but I can’t hold back. Probably, I carry it from my Russian poetry background where rhymes are essential. I enjoy describing modern themes using traditional form. All those subjects like the internet, social media and corporate work just sound more fun when presented with rhymes.
Where is your work currently published?:
I often publish my poems on Medium and I’m also proud to announce that in August 2020 I published my debut poetry collection Friends Over Lovers. In this poetry collection I explore counter-dependent behavior. Why friendship feels safe and love tastes like danger. It is also about recognizing your pattern and breaking free. In addition to that I post some of the poems on my Instagram account. Nowadays, there are so many ways to reach your audience.
What is your greatest hope with regards to your poetry?
I think it’s an ongoing process of mastering the craft. I hope that I can improve my writing style and expand my knowledge in this field. But the most important thing I hope is that poetry will always bring me this magical feeling of the universe whispering her secrets in my ear.
Does your poetry have a message or a theme that you want to portray to the world?
I used to say that my poetry is a digital sorrow wrapped in overdressed rhymes. I use poetry to let go of things and encourage people to reflect on themselves. I talk about feelings and everyday situations in a quite relatable way. I want people to read and nod and say, Oh yes, that’s me! That’s what I feel.
How do your poems come to you? And how do you take them from the initial inspiration to the final poem? Tell me about your writing process.
I have the impression that I don’t create them, instead, I recall them. Like these poems already exist somewhere in the universe and I just put them together piece by piece. Sometimes just the phrase comes to my mind, for example, “I like that Silence in my head, it’s very rare.” I write this down in my notes and come back to it later or finish it right away. Silence in my head
Or sometimes I say to myself negative things and after that, I try to change the mood of the message from negative to a positive one like in the poem Poetry is lame.
Tell me about one of your poems that is very special to you, and why.
I Am Just Waiting For Lunch is my all-time favorite poem, though I can see from the claps and engagement on Medium that it is not the most favorite for people who read my poetry. I like this poem because it is the combination of all things I appreciate in poetry: rhymes, rhythm, self-irony, sorrow and modern topic like never-ending work in corporations. When you feel sad about your office work, you can rap this poem in front of the mirror in the bathroom and feel better.
I Am Just Waiting For Lunch
In the big open space, I am just waiting for lunch
I’m supposed to do work, but I didn’t do much.
Google, Facebook, and Twitter got me really distracted
These technology days you can’t be inactive.
If the next day I die and go to corporate heaven
Or another institution, or hell, or whatever
I ‘ll be asked to provide a report on that all.
Well, for most of the time I just stared at the wall.
I just waited eight hours for it to be over
For a meaningful life to show up and take over.
By the time I got home, I felt really worn out
There’s always next time to try fun stuff out.
I am just waiting for lunch in the big open space
For all things in my life, there’s time and a place.
I’ll be famous one day I feel it, I know
Just watch me, I ‘ll probably do that tomorrow!
I Am Just Waiting For Lunch on Medium
One last question, what would you say to readers who do not normally read poetry to encourage them to read the genre?
I think poetry can be extremely useful. You can use it in a variety of situations. You can memorize poems to train your memory. I don’t speak Spanish, but I like to memorize Spanish poems as an exercise. Obviously, you can use some poems as a pickup line or express your feelings. Believe me, you can impress someone with that if this person is on a romantic side of the spectrum. Last but not least you can use poems as a spell to fight anxiety. One of my favorite poems is Letters To The Roman Friend by Joseph Brodsky. I am afraid of dentists, so every time I am at the dentist’s office, I close my eyes and repeat this poem to myself. It helps me to focus on words and not on what is going on around me. And of course if you need a great phrase for your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter post poetry is your go-to source.
Follow Anna Shtorm’s work:
Thank you for reading about this featured poet. I invite you to include poetry in your reading and give this genre a chance to enrich your life. I will be featuring poets on my blog (Author Website), in my newsletter (Author Newsletter), and on my Medium platform (Fiddleheads & Floss Poetry). I welcome you to read about these poets, support them, and perhaps find a poet that brings something very meaningful to your life.
Christina Ward, poet, author, and blogger
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