By Nevaeh Lugo
Arts Editor, the Rostrum
Ed. Note: The following was sent to the Voice with a request it be published as a feature.
Senior Aianna Thomas has published a book of poetry, “No Rain No Flowers,” on the online shopping site, Amazon. She led the entire process herself, from writing to publication.
The book, which went on sale April 14, is a collection of uplifting poems with advice and Bible verses mixed in.
“I accept that I am me, I have my own purpose, dreams, and aspirations,” reads the poem called “Self love Affirmation.”
The book is split into several sections, each following a different emotional theme, like “Pain Creates Purpose” and “A time to Bloom.” Thomas said that she wrote with the emotions she felt in each chapter.
“If you’re feeling down, through God you can find peace,” she said. On struggles, she also remarked, “through faith we can overcome them.”
“No Rain No Flowers” is Thomas’ first book. She said writing started out as an outlet for her and developed into a tool to help other people.
“I found out Aianna had an interest in writing since she was maybe 15-16,” Thomas’ mom, Natalie Rodriguez, said. “She was very much into poetry.”
Thomas described the process of writing her book as disorganized. She would go with the flow and write poetry as it came to her mind.
“Whatever I was feeling, I would write it down,” Thomas said.
The sporadic writing went on for over a year until Thomas was satisfied and able to put it all together into a collection for publication.
Thomas described the publishing process as very enlightening.
“YouTube was my best friend,” Thomas said, referring to her constant surfing of the video sharing site for advice.
Thomas wrote the manuscript for the book and then paid someone to design her cover. Thomas then put it all together on Amazon’s self-publishing area. When she was finished, the company took care of printing and distributing the book, and Thomas profits from every purchase.
As soon as the book was up, Thomas was simultaneously excited and overwhelmed. She felt nervous and doubted the book would even gain good attention.
The publication of a book about topics as heavy as mental health and religion required Thomas to put herself out there and share her vulnerable side. That made her even more nervous.
Thomas’ School Counselor, Holly Benedetti, learned about the book’s publication when Thomas stopped by her office one day with a gift for Teacher Appreciation week. The gift bag included a bound book.
“I pulled it out, examined the cover, taking in the beautiful artwork and title of the book, then I saw the author’s name, Aianna Thomas, and immediately broke out into an ugly cry,” Mrs. Benedetti said. “I believe I might have even jumped up and down screeching something along the lines of, ‘you published a book, you did it’!”
Thomas’ family shares in this pride.
“When I found out Aianna published her book I felt so proud of her,” Rodriguez said. “I had the biggest smile on my face. I remember telling myself ‘She really did it!’…I read her book the minute I got my hands on it.”
Rodriguez said it was important to her that “No Rains, No Flowers” discusses God and Bible scriptures.
Thomas said she believes that the Bible is a helpful guide to life, but she sees herself as more of a spiritual person than religious.
“Religion is a form of division to me, that’s why I think there are so many,” Thomas said. However, her spiritual beliefs do not mean that she denies the existence of God.
“I just believe in love and being a good person,” she said.
When she isn’t writing, Thomas enjoys nature, going on hikes, music, and experiencing new things.
Thomas has spent her entire life in West Haven, but she transferred to West Haven High School from Metropolitan Business Academy in New Haven during her junior year.
Thomas hopes to earn a degree in communications, but she doesn’t know exactly what her future career would entail, other than the idea that she wants to help people.
One of Thomas’ poems, “Mixed Emotions,” can be read in The Rostrum’s student-run Creative Corner section.
“With that poem, I was feeling a bit hopeless at that time of my life,” Thomas said. She described the inspiration behind the poem as a feeling of confusion at her own feelings. She felt that others in her generation could identify with her emotional struggle.
Thomas described her inspiration as, “wanting to help other people realize that it’s okay to have bad times.” She added that “it’s okay to go through depression, it’s okay to not be okay.”
She said she wants her writing to serve as a reminder that pain and hardship don’t define a person.
“Pain creates purpose,” she said.
As soon as she met Thomas, Mrs. Benedetti predicted the student was going to make her mark at WHHS.
“I really admire Aianna’s courage to share her deepest thoughts and feelings, in such a beautiful form,” Mrs. Benedetti said. “She might not realize it yet, but her work has made and will continue to make a difference in the lives of so many.”
For her part, Rodriguez said she couldn’t be more proud of her daughter.
“Aianna has now become my teacher, my inspiration, my best friend,” she said. “She has helped me become a better mother and person as a whole. She is the most amazing girl and I am proud to call her my daughter.”