Poet self-publishes work, organizes open mic night

West Ranch High student Sophia Kriegel has been writing poetry since the first grade. Austin Dave/The Signal

Heartbreak. Friendship. Girlhood. All are topics that inspire Sophia Kriegel to write poetry — enough to fill nearly three self-published books.

“When I was in elementary school, I wrote a lot of songs for my twin sister to sing,” she said. “I think about everyday occurrences, and finding meaning in so many small and specific moments.”

She has been writing poetry since the first grade, but the West Ranch High School senior wasn’t compelled to take it more seriously until last year.

After Kriegel interviewed a journalism classmate who was compiling a book full of poetry, she was inspired to do it herself.

Through the website blurb.com, Kriegel self-published two poetry books: “Shades of Yellow” came first, in October 2017. In it, she wrote about all sorts of topics, lyrically outlining her life and most intimate thoughts. The next installment, “Blonde Girls Don’t Cry,” came in summer 2018.

“I’m a pretty rapid writer, and each book takes about six months to finish,” she said, holding up the covers she’d hand-illustrated herself. Both had a rough stick-woman sketch of a girl on the front of the collections of approximately 30 poems each.

Many of the poems are long-form or spoken word, and there’s more where that came from, Kriegel said. She has about 50-60 other poems in archives.

She began giving out copies to friends and family after “Shades of Yellow” came out, but her goal is to get her voice out there rather than formally monetize her talents — for now.

In college next year, Kriegel wants to study creative writing and continue sharing her work.

For her third book, currently in progress, which will be illustrated by a classmate, she said she has never been more proud
of its contents.

“You always look back at what you’ve written before and think, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe this is what I thought was my best work,’” she said. “I feel like these new poems really show my growth.”

Open mic night

Kriegel’s gift has sparked a community to share their own words.
She started “The Poetry Project,” an open mic night held bimonthly at Global Prep Academy, for high school students to come and share their original work.

“I was going to open mic nights in Los Angeles to share my work, and eventually it became too hard to get all the way out there at night,” she said. “And I noticed Santa Clarita doesn’t have one of those, so I wanted to do it there.”

Some sing songs, some passionately shout rants they’ve written and everyone comes out to support the nearly 20 to 25 students expressing themselves. Last time, the audience had almost 70 attendees, she said.

The next one will be at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the GPA building at 23310 Cinema Drive, Suite 105.

“I really want start an organized space to share art like that in college, too,” she said. “Being able to really have a community like that is so important, and also we get to all put our voices out there.”

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