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ARTIST PROFILE: Morelli to sign copies of poetry book at Bookstore Plus

July 6, 2018
By STEVE LESTER - Correspondent ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID-Sophie Morelli, a 2016 graduate of the Lake Placid High School about to enter her junior year at SUNY Potsdam, will be holding a book signing from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 7 at the Bookstore Plus on Main Street for her publication of poems, "Bad Habits."

"Sales are more than I thought because the only people I thought would ever buy a copy would be family members and friends - out of guilt," she said, adding that so far about 300 copies have sold.

"Tourists are even buying it," she said.

Article Photos

Sophie Morelli
(Photo provided — Steve Lester)

Morelli described the collection of poems as personal in nature and based mostly on her experiences during her freshman year of college.

"They're not too much detached from my life. They're very personal, event oriented," she said. "In the future, I'd like to broaden my writing to include big-picture issues and events that are detached from myself. Poetry is what I'll always go back to, but I would like to branch out into other styles of writing."

One such issue Morelli wants to address will still be based on personal experience to a certain degree.

"It's the stigma attached to mental health problems," she said. "I saw a lot of it in high school and college. I've been dealing with it since I was 10."

The "it" she refers to is Tourette syndrome, a nervous system disorder that causes people to make sudden movements or sounds they can't control known as "tics." Those with the disorder may blink their eyes or clear their throats repeatedly, or they may blurt out something they never intended to say.

Morelli said it was especially difficult in elementary and middle school.

"And it's only because people don't understand it," she said. "People are mean to things they don't understand. I think the best way to understand something like this is by reading a person's firsthand account of it."

Morelli said it wasn't so bad that she was a total outcast, but she still struggled to feel a part of social circles.

"Oh, I definitely had friends, but I definitely was the odd one out," she said, "because there were things about how I functioned that they didn't understand. And they're good people! It's just hard at a young age to wrap your head around things you've never seen before. People are more understanding as we've grown up, but it's tough when you're little."

Morelli may direct future writings, she said, to that young age group to help them understand Tourette syndrome better in the hope of sparing a child with the disorder the same difficulties she had.

"If I could shift just one person's view, that would be good," she said.

In terms of social acceptance, Morelli found solace in the theater by joining just about every cast of every show possible.

"I've always said that theater people were the best people because I felt most at home when I was a member of a cast. I started out doing a lot of children's theater because my characters didn't have to deal with Tourette's, so I got to pretend a little bit," she said.

One particular bonding experience Morelli had with theater involved a senior project she did in high school English class taught by Brendan Gotham in which she wrote an original play.

"It was a murder mystery," she said. "And the cast was made up of all my classmates. Some had been in plays with me my whole life, and some had never been in a play before. So that was really cool."

Morelli's fascination with poetry, meanwhile, began the year prior while once again in Mr. Gotham's English class, giving him credit for essentially getting her acquainted with it.

"He was a big influence on me. I'm a big fan of him," she said.

"I was always interested in writing, always a big reader. But in 11th grade, I discovered spoken word poetry through an English assignment. Then I ended up just stumbling upon YouTube videos by spoken word artists like John Sands and Olivia Gatwood."

Morelli said she plans to finish her bachelor's degree in English next year even though it will only be her third year. Then she plans to complete a master's degree in education to get a head start on her plans to teach English without having to take time off to finish up any required education credits in order to maintain her career.

She is also fast-tracking her way through college "to save a little money," she added.

In the meantime, Morelli has a message for those who may balk at the notion of reading poetry books.

"People say, 'Poetry isn't my thing.' Whereas I say, 'Just try it. Just do it.' It wasn't my thing either, but now it is because I tried it," she said.

Morelli also said the same for those who say writing "isn't their thing."

"Writing is a great outlet. Just write something," she said.



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