For talented sophomore, poetry offers a way to see her life more clearly

During National Poetry Month, we profile the gifted and prolific writer, Anna Fox

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Sophomore Anna Fox says her writing group gives her the perfect combination of writing professionally and being socially candid. Her writing coach in the group, Jennifer Hritz says that Fox has always been a gifted writer but that she has seen her become more mature and less inhibited through her time in the group. Counterclockwise: Hritz (author, instructor of Young Writers Austin), Headwaters sophomore Arden Egerton, freshman Francie Wilhelm, Fox and freshman Lanie Sepehri.

A poem can be anything. A heartbeat. Ocean waves. That’s the magic of poetry.

Sophomore Anna Fox knows how to harness that magic.

She takes an emotion you’ve never felt and makes you feel it. She gives you an experience you’ve never had and makes you live it. It’s hard to believe all that could happen in a couple of lines, a
few minutes. But that’s poetry. No; it’s Anna Fox’s poetry.

“I’ve always loved words and what they meant and how they fit together,” Anna said. “And you know in elementary school, when you do those writing projects? I’ve always liked those more than other people did. … We had to write a fictional story for, you know, third grade. And I wrote 10 pages, and everyone else wrote, like, two.”

Though years have passed, her prolific ability to write has stayed the same. As a teenage poet, writing is her passion, a lens through which to view and process her life.

“I take this whole overarching theme of this thing that happened in my life,” Anna said. “And, you know, you just zoom in. And you get to one day or one moment and you write about that. And that’s what I like to do because it’s more fun.”

I’ve always loved words and what they meant and how they fit together.”

— sophomore Anna Fox

For Anna, poetry is 95 percent autobiographical. It provides a sense of clarity, a way to work through events that happened to her.

“I tend to dramatize them in my own mind,” Anna said. “Just ‘cause. Just ‘cause it is more fun. And so, to be able to put that on the page, it feels more real. It feels like a thing that happened rather than just me coming up with, you know, scenarios in my head.”

The words usually come to her just as she’s falling asleep. She takes one line, a nice alliterative or something that simply sounds good, and builds a poem around it. Though poetry is something personal to her, Anna’s work is often shared with friends and fellow writers in a space where she feels safe: Thursday night writing group.

“It’s the coolest thing that I get to be a part of,” Anna said. “It really walks a perfect line between being professional and being candid because a lot of it is just hanging out and talking to each other, but then we actually get to do writing and share writing with people.”

Writing group, run by Jennifer Hritz, author (as well as armchair psychologist and paid friend, according to Anna), is a weekly event including three other high school girls. According to Hritz, Anna was first introduced to her by another student at a Halloween creative workshop in 2018.

“I remembered her writing long after she had come to that class,” Hritz said. “I remember it was pretty dark, and it was haunting and atmospheric, and she did a great job of really placing you in the scene.”

There’s a flow and a beauty to [Anna’s writing], but at the same time, it kind of pulls you down with the weight of… that yearning.”

— author and writing instructor Jennifer Hritz

Despite her great share at the workshop, Anna didn’t join writing group until April of 2020. Anna says writing group has helped her improve her editing skills.

“I’m able to scrutinize my writing a little more because if I’m looking at it,” Anna said, “and I’m like, ‘I am going to be reading this out loud in, like, 20 minutes. What can I do to make it sound better?’

And once you get the practice of that, it is easier… even if there’s a line that you really love, sometimes you have to cut it out. … And that can be hard, but overall, it makes you a better writer.”

Hritz has witnessed Anna’s writing–and Anna herself–change over the course of her time in the group.

“She has matured, she’s opened up so much more,” Hritz said. “I think she’s more honest with the group. I feel like she’s starting to become less inhibited and self-conscious about what she shares the more accolades that she receives–and they’re completely justified. And I like seeing her kind of light up when she gets a lot of compliments, which she does, because her writing is really good.”

Despite never meeting Anna in person due to the ongoing pandemic, McCallum English teacher Nikki Northcutt feels the power of Anna’s voice. She says Anna is very present in class, which is
appreciated in a fully virtual world. According to Northcutt, Anna is almost journalistic in her writing and impressively honest.

Anna tells me things on the regular that will change my teaching for the better.”

— Language arts teacher Nikki Northcutt

“Anna tells me things on the regular that will change my teaching for the better,” Northcutt said.

“It’s really interesting to me that she loves to write poetry and loves to write creatively because she strikes me as… the adjective I think of is professorial. She seems like a little professor.”

Professorial. Journalistic. So at odds with the longing, vivid poems Anna shares at writing group.

“Her writing feels watery to me,” Hritz said. “And I don’t mean that in an insubstantial way. It feels like you could just sort of drown in it, which is a compliment. It doesn’t sound like it is, but I feel
like it is. I feel like you could just sort of drown in her writing because it’s so… heavy, in a way. There’s a flow and a beauty to it, but at the same time, it kind of pulls you down with the weight of… that yearning.”

Third grade. Sophomore year. Who knows what Anna’s writing will become in the future? Anna would love to have a job to do with creative writing in her life–a creative writing professor to be specific.

Her Plan B is to be a psychologist of some sort. Northcutt wouldn’t be surprised if she became a journalist. But Anna’s potential, much like magic, is infinite.

“I have written basically an entire book of poetry,” Anna said. “I could write a lot more, and I’m going to.”

Even before she joined her writing group, Fox showed her writing talent. As a freshman she earned a national honorable mention award in the Fitzgerald Museum’s annual literary contest in honor of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s 100th anniversary. “I tried to take the concept of the cliché teenage romance and not really turn it on its head but subvert it,” Fox said of her winning entry. “I took all the pieces of it and wove my way through them.” (Ellen Fox)