Student poet runs down a dream

Longtime Winter Park resident and Flagler College student Jenni Sujka, with the help of her father, compiled and published a book of her fellow students’ poetry.

Longtime Winter Park resident and Flagler College student Jenni Sujka, with the help of her father, compiled and published a book of her fellow students’ poetry.

Kristy Vickery

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Somewhere amid the Spanish ruins, old forts and palm trees of St. Augustine an alarm starts screaming at 4 a.m., and Lois Goh’s mind starts running down St. George Street. Bookended by the St. John’s and the Atlantic, 450 years of life — give or take a semester — conjures inspiration, then Goh’s fingers dance letters onto a page.

“It takes a lot, but I just sit in front of my computer and think about what has happened to me or the world in the past few years, and I just reach in and ask myself really hard questions, and answer them as harshly as I can, and that’s when the poetry starts,” 23-year-old Goh said.

“Running On Saint George Street,” a poetry book written by Flagler College students and compiled by long-time Winter Park resident and Flagler College student Jenni Sujka, takes its inspiration from everywhere. But its title, she said, comes from the comparison of the five streets that run across Saint George Street to the crossroads of life faced in college.

Sujka came up with the idea for the book after taking an Advanced Poetry class, and her dad suggested putting a book together to showcase students’ poetry, guiding her along the way, and eventually publishing it for her.

“He’s always believed and instilled in me that writing is a great form of expression to get what you want out on the page,” Sujka said. “He likes to push us, and see us go places; to do different things and make us stand out.”

Although Jenni’s father Stan Sujka is in the medical field, he said he’s always had a passion for writing, and believes that writing can help one in all aspects of their life.

“Poetry introduces you to a different world,” he said. “It can apply to every aspect of life; love, anger, grief.”

Sujka said he encourages all four of his children to write, and is also writing a book of his own. A task that he said can be overwhelming to most, but is more easily tackled in smaller sections.

“Consider only writing one page per day, at the end of the year you have 365 pages,” he said. “First do an outline, then put it into perspective, and then take small bites at a time.”

He gives this same advice to his own children, in hopes that they will continue writing; no matter what life path they choose.

“It stimulates young people to think on a different plank,” he said. “If you communicate with the world in terms of speech and writing you have really lived.”

Jenni isn’t even majoring in English. But the words come anyway, helping her in more ways than just getting noticed on the printed page.

“Writing has helped me learn how to edit, present myself and speak more eloquently,” she said.

The importance of writing is a lesson Jenni is grateful for, but for her father, it’s one he couldn’t be more proud to share with her.

“There’s always room for poetry,” Stan said. “Any good writer is a poet in addition.”