Sarah Cooper is set to launch her first novel, Of Feathers and Fire: Fragments from a Fractured Mind (Penumbra Press). The launch will take place on Friday, March 24 at 2:30 pm in the Brian Mulroney Hall Rotunda.

The creative writing student from Saint John studied at the University of Prince Edward Island before recently transferring to STU.

“I came to STU in September and I’ve been really excited and impressed with how much they’ve thrown their support behind me. I really appreciate it” said Cooper.

Her uncertainty regarding being a transfer student was set aside after receiving support from faculty members. “Erin Fredericks has been incredibly supportive in various ways, including setting me up with Michael Dawson and Lauren Eagle who took on the book launch with touching amounts of enthusiasm. Kathy Mac has also been quite helpful, connecting me with poetry and writing opportunities here in Fredericton. I really appreciate all of their help”.

Cooper has had to overcome a lot of obstacles to become a published author. At the age of 16, she was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and began to have non-epileptic psychogenetic seizures. She began writing just two years ago after being inspired by a performance from her favourite musician.
 
“I wrote a journal entry and then a few days later I wrote a poem and it just kept coming until I had a full manuscript” said Cooper.

The title Of Feathers and Fire: Fragments from a Fractured Mind stemmed from the imagery of the phoenix that is present in many of the poems.

“I had this one experience where I was sitting in a bar having a drink with a friend and we were talking about the phoenix and she said, ‘That’s how I see you every time you get up after a seizure, it’s like the phoenix that rose from the ashes’.”

The 72-page collection of poetry outlines fragmented pieces of the mind in which themes of mental illness, lost love, and hope are present.

“Even though it has a linear progression I didn’t necessarily write it that way” said Cooper. “There were days where I would write some really dark pieces and other days where hope sneaked in.”

The poems display a collaboration of fragility and strength as they explore the journey of depression through a blaze of fire to emerge as new.
 
Cooper is still collecting ideas and experiences, and plans to continue using them to fuel her writing.