Myah Robbins, a student at State College Area High School, recently published over 100 pages of original poetry. Photo by Michelle Bixby
When the COVID-19 pandemic halted most in-person learning across the country, most teens may have spent their free time playing video games, watching TV, or browsing TikTok. But for one Central Region teenager, the pandemic-fueled isolation provided a chance to unleash pent-up creativity.
Myah Robbins, a 15-year-old sophomore at State College Area High School, recently released her first collection of poetry, “A perspective of the end of the world.” Throughout the coming-of-age story, she explores the many ups and downs of teenage life during one of the most turbulent times in recent history.
“Apart from being a 13-year-old with frequent mood swings, a lot has happened during the pandemic — a lot of things that you see just by observing the world around you,” Robbins said. . “When you write, you may think about things in a different way than you’ve ever done before. I focused on feelings, and during the pandemic, it could have been loneliness one day or gratitude the next day.Each poem had a contemplative meaning behind it.
Through approximately 100 pages of poetry, Robbins explores senses of optimism characterized by shimmering seashells or spooky, uncharted forests. Some additional chapters focus on Christmas holidays, unexpected loneliness, and memories of better days.
First curated from a pile of hundreds of poems on Robbins’ bedroom floor, “A Perspective of the End of the World” is not delivered chronologically. Instead, it’s deliberately presented with a climax and resolution that’s meant to validate readers’ thoughts and feelings after a complicated few years.
“I hope it changes how someone feels about something, even in some way,” Robbins said. “Or maybe it reassures them about themselves, their state of mind and the adventure they are heading towards.”
Robbins began writing poetry nearly a decade ago during a dedicated unit in her third-grade class. Although her interest in art never waned, she developed a more focused approach during the pandemic by writing hundreds of poems to catalog thoughts and decompress feelings. Winning the youth category of a pandemic-themed poetry contest at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church also boosted Robbins’ confidence.
“At 15, I didn’t have much of a life, so my ‘always’ was shorter than most others’ ‘always’. I would say I really started writing during the pandemic, even if it seemed interesting before, although I didn’t spend too much time on it,” Robbins said.
Throughout Robbins’ education, teachers were a constant source of confidence and inspiration as she was creative. A few years ago, an instructor indirectly took on the high challenge that laid the groundwork for Robbins’ first publication.
“My seventh-grade science teacher once said how, with all the free time college kids have and waste playing video games and watching TV shows, they could write and publish a book. I thought it was funny, and I guess he was right,” Robbins said.
Those who know Robbins best say his recent post isn’t too surprising. Her mother-in-law, Heather Robbins, said Myah was constantly creative while showing maturity during a transitional time for many teenagers.
“Myah has always been a thoughtful person and a bit introspective and curious,” said Heather, who has been a part of Myah’s life since she was 2 years old. “I don’t know what I was doing at 15, but it certainly wasn’t writing a book. I’m so proud of her and her courage and trying something as important as publishing a book. If you think of something and want to try something, don’t be afraid to try it. Myah is a prime example.
The family played an important role in getting “A Perspective from Around the World” published in print and on the shelves. Charting a path without an agent, Robbins and his publisher-linked family of eight, Press atmosphere, and worked with an editor to polish dozens of poems. New to publishing, Robbins also had to navigate legal waters to ensure his work reached the finish line.
Robbins’ grandmother, Debbie Hottle, illustrated the cover of the poetry book. Hottle also drew the illustrations on the book’s page, presented to Robbins as a Christmas present last year.
“My grandma really helped pull the piece together,” Robbins said. “I featured a shoddy illustration of the cover, but it brought it to life.”
Now with published work under her belt, Robbins’ future is bright. In honor of National Novel Writing Month, she is working on fictional stories and experimenting with vignettes, a more descriptive style of poetry. In a few years, she hopes to go to college to study creative writing and computer science.
“One Perspective from the End of the World”, officially released on September 14, is available in digital and paperback editions via Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.
Robbins and his family will host a public launch party for his book beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Storm Studios, 140 Kelly Alley in downtown State College. The event will include light refreshments, a Q&A session and an open mic setup to encourage guests to read poetry and share their creative talents.
Registration for Sunday’s launch party is available online. Those interested in purchasing a signed copy of “A Doomsday Perspective” are encouraged to inquire by e-mail.