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ALTON - A local poet has published her first book.

Jeannette Schorfheide has been writing poems since she was in high school. Now, her poems have hit the shelves in “The Calling Tree: An Inspirational Journey,” a poetry journal that draws on Schorfheide’s faith and career in education. Schorfheide said that she feels “a great sense of relief” now that the book is published, and she has enjoyed sharing her writing with the world.

“Poetry is something that not everybody understands or everybody enjoys,” she said. “It’s something that I’ve used as a coping mechanism since high school, so since the 80s. And my mother-in-law, my husband Randy, and my kids and my mom have all said, ‘You should share this with people.’ And so I decided to take a leap of faith and do it.”

Published through Soul Sunshine, LLC, “The Calling Tree” discusses themes of education, religion, anxiety, hope and more. Schorfheide noted that her poems often come to her fully-formed, and she will stop whatever she’s doing to write them down.

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“To be honest, I don’t really develop poems. Like I said, they’re coping mechanisms, so they just kind of pop into my head,” she explained. “I’m a cyclist, so I might be out on a bike ride and something pops in my head and I stop and am making notes on my phone. By the time I get home, it’s ready to be written out. That’s just how it works for me.”

As a self-described “diehard educator” in her 30th year as a school counselor, Schorfheide acknowledges the role that education has played in her life and her writing. She encourages her students to journal or write down their emotions, and she keeps a gratitude journal to cope with her own anxiety.

It was an easy decision to turn her book into a poetry journal, with poems interspersed with journal prompts. She hopes the result is an “inspirational journey” that pushes people along a path of self-discovery and healing.

Now that the book is published, Schorfheide explained that it has been interesting to see how people in her life react to the poems. She has enjoyed reading through the poems and reflecting on her own journey, particularly her experiences with Christianity. She hopes the book encourages other people to do the same.

“My Christian poems, they hit me,” she said. “Some of them were written in a time when I maybe had some doubt or I wasn’t as involved in the church as I had been. Now I go back and I look at those, and they touch my heart a little bit more than what they did then. I think that was my way of trying to get myself back to where I had been…I think our experiences and how we cope with our emotions and where we are help me then reflect on the poems differently now.”

The book has also pushed Schorfheide to get out of her comfort zone. She said she usually dislikes being in the spotlight, but she is looking forward to a book signing at a Fairview Heights coffee shop sometime in September. She hopes to do more to promote the book and share her work with the community. In the meantime, “The Calling Tree: An Inspirational Journey” is available for purchase on Amazon, and Schorfheide hopes it is as cathartic to read as it was for her to write.

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