Poetry opens new doors for Hannibal graduate

Jessica Voepel wrote and published her first book, “Burning the Woulds,” with fellow author Joseph Brant when she was a junior in high school.
By Hannibal Courier-Post
Posted: Sep. 2, 2020 2:00 pm

HANNIBAL | Jessica Voepel wrote and published her first book of poetry before she graduated from Hannibal High School, and her journey has reached a new chapter of making a positive impact on people's lives through her writing.

Poetry wasn't always Voepel's preferred genre, but everything changed when she was introduced to modern poet Rupi Kaur's lyrical style. Voepel began expressing her emotions through poetry with co-author Joseph Brant — Voepel's friend, Jaiden Salyer, convinced her to publish the book so others could relate to the emotions behind the words. “Burning the Woulds” was published during Voepel's junior year at HHS, and the Southwest Baptist University freshman plans to continue her writing journey and mission to help others.

The title of the poetry collection speaks to moving past feelings of regret for “would haves” in life. Brant and Voepel shared emotions which were easier to portray with written words. Voepel hadn't planned on creating a book before Salyer encouraged her — but the emotions and life situations came together as she wrote dozens of poems. 

“I think that's a great outlet for me,” Voepel said. “I'm not great talking with other people, but I think pen and paper understand.”

Voepel's faith in God is reflected through passages like this:

“I love you,” He said 

As we mocked him.

“I love you,” He said 

Knocking on our heart's door.

“I love you,” He said 

When we shut him out.

“I love you,” He said 

During 39 lashes.

“I love you,” He said 

Carrying the weight of the world.

“I love you,” He said 

While he hung on the cross.

“I love you,” He said 

Breathing his last.

Voepel is pursuing a double major in writing and social work as she starts her first semester of college, and she already has two books in the works — a second collection of poetry and a children's book about dealing with grief. She plans more children's books in the future, so her stories can convey topics which can be difficult to discuss with young people.

“Honestly, I love that,” Voepel said. “I've always really loved helping people, and I think it's an amazing thing that I can help people with something that I'm extremely passionate about. I think if other people can find hobbies that they like and somehow make an impact, I think that's a goal in life.”

“Burning the Woulds” can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Thrift Books and iUniverse.






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