Alas De Plomo: Laura Menendez on Publishing Poetry Aged 21

The second Laura steps into the café, she is warmly greeted by one of the waitresses. They chat for a bit while smiling warmly towards each other before the waitress takes a step back. 

“Have you seen the new series Sabrina on Netflix?” she asks.

“Yes, I know I look like her,” Laura says while softly touching her short blonde hair, “You’re not the first one to point that out.”

Just like the teenage witch, Laura is a dedicated young woman who knows her potential and isn’t afraid to use it. That, together with an unexpected push from a friend, made her release her very own poetry book at only 21 years old. 

“I had been writing for a very long time as a coping mechanism, and then I had this friend in first year of university who accidentally went through my notebook, which nobody is allowed to. For some reason she read it and was like: Why have you never done anything with this?” Laura says, explaining how it all started.

What began as a scary unfortunate moment grew into an idea, and in 2018, she started a blog under the pseudonym Greenjacket. That first initial feeling of not wanting to share her most intimate feelings with the world slowly faded and the idea of doing something with the material grew upon her. 

“It is a part of me and if you can make something good out of it, why wouldn’t you?” she wonders aloud.

The book is called Alas De Plomo, which translates into ‘Wings Of Lead.’ It’s composed of Spanish poems taken from three different notebooks. Laura kept and wrote them during the period after a particularly harsh breakup in connection to when she started university. When she first began to go through them armed with colour coded highlighters, she looked for different themes. This made her realize that what she had created was a story that all came together.

“The book starts in a very sad, down moment, because it talks about a break-up and how I dealt with it. It goes from a very low point, like – I don’t know what to do, I’m lost. But then it kind of comes to me realizing that life doesn’t end here.”

“[Publishing the book] got a lot of things off my chest. What I was feeling is kind of somewhere else now and I managed to deal with it because it was somewhere else. It wasn’t in me anymore.”

Releasing a story this personal has not always been easy however. Laura clearly recalls how she asked her mother to proofread it, and how along with red pen corrections in the margins also came confusion. 

“She was like, I didn’t know you had gone through all of this. How come you kept it all inside and I didn’t know? But when I went through all of this I was in Scotland already. She kind of knew that I had broken up with him, but she didn’t know the story behind it,” Laura says.

Another significant figure in Laura’s life who discovered her true feelings through the book was her former boyfriend, who many of the poems are about.  

“He bought a copy. It was weird because we never really spoke about what happened. He kind of just walked away and I think that’s why it took me so long to process it. Because I didn’t really have any answers. Now looking back in time, I couldn’t have done anything different.”

Despite it being challenging and sometimes scary to publish her own book, Laura’s smile is undeniable as she excitedly explains how much positive feedback she has gotten. Much is from friends and family as well as from others who her words have touched in unexpected ways.

She specifically remembers one of her mother’s friends whose husband passed away around the same time as the book was released. The friend told Laura that she was in the process of feeling all the feelings that the poems spoke about.

“She read it and she said: I feel what you’re saying, I’m going through the same and I really like the positive tone that all things have,” Laura says. 

That positive characteristic that can be found throughout Laura’s book is the same strikingly obvious personality trait that comes out at the very moment she first enters the café and smilingly greets the waitress. That same underlying message is right there between the lines on every page, from one smiling hard working poet to her readers: Even though you sometimes have to go through emotionally tough moments, there’s always something to take away from them.  

Published by Clara Fors Wisbyse

- A 22-year-old Swedish journalist student living in Stirling, Scotland. - One of the two founders and editors of the online magazine In Full Bloom

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