COLONIE — Local author Brenna Katsoudas invites readers into a spellbinding, delicate world of poetry that explores love, loss and acceptance in her new book, “Gardens in Graveyards,” which chronicles a journey that she wants to share with others.
“The book is not just my journey,” said Katsoudas, 24, of Colonie. “I know that there’s somebody out there with the same journey.”
The seed was planted for “Gardens in Graveyards” shortly after she completed her first poetry book, “Supernovas of the Heart.”
“I wrote down this idea that the title ‘Gardens in Graveyards’ is going to stand for all of the beautiful things that can grow from things that have died and passed on,” she said.
The initial concept was that the title would reflect friendships that had dissolved in her life. However, the expression “gardens in graveyards” became a mantra for Katsoudas as she underwent unexpected loss, death and change within a short period of time.
“The title took on a whole new meaning — not just mourning things in my life that have changed due to time and space between people, but also the space between the living and the dead. It became my mantra for life. I feel like it was a tree, and it grew all these different limbs. Each limb was a different season of my life,” said Katsoudas.
Writing became an opportunity to express herself through the difficult time.
“What has always inspired me to write is that they’re my feelings. Writing is my outlet; it helps me to cope and navigate things. It’s been part of my growing process, like growing up and dealing with the normal bumps in life — the good and the bad,” she said.
The poems were primarily composed within the past three to four years. Katsoudas admitted that she didn’t set out with the intention of writing another book.
“I didn’t know what it was going to turn into. It’s very strange how things work out!” she said. “Every time I write something, I’m just writing it. All of those things were just fitting into this book because everything in my life was fitting into the concept of the book.”
The book launch for “Gardens in Graveyards” was held at MochaLisa’s Caffé in Clifton Park. Co-owner Roland Van Zandt described the relationship between local authors and MochaLisa’s Caffé as a “collaboration.”
“It was wonderful,” he said regarding Katsoudas’s book signing. “She had family and friends come in, and a lot of people from the general public saw her work and saw the opportunity to come in to meet her, talk with her, hear her story, and purchase a copy of her book to have it signed.”
Copies of “Gardens in Graveyards” are available to purchase at MochaLisa’s Caffé. The cafe is dedicated to providing a place for local authors, artists, and craftspeople to sell their goods, work, and get exposure.
“It’s been extremely rewarding to support our local authors,” said Zandt.
The readers of “Gardens in Graveyards” will see Katsoudas’ own drawings fill the pages and accompany the poems for an added visual element to the storytelling.
“I wanted to try to bring my vision to life,” she said.
This is her first book to feature her own artwork, but her second book to carry on a promise from her youth. Katsoudas published her first poetry book, “Supernovas of the Heart” at just 20 years old. The book was dedicated to an inspiration in her life, her grandfather.
“He always told me, ‘You’re going to write a book someday. I know I’m going to live to see the day you write a book,’” she remembered. “That inspired me and pushed me even more to write a book while he was here. It was very special that he got to see that.”
Katsoudas carried his wisdom with her when approaching her new book.
“The first book and this book are very different because one was written in such a dark place, and this was also written in such a dark place, but I was able to see the good in it as well,” she said.
“I had a graveyard full of things to be sad about, and this graveyard full of things that were dead. All of these people that were alive but no longer in my life, or they did pass on. … But from the graveyard, I learned so many valuable lessons at the departure of all of those things and people. From the sadness, I watered those things with love and grew flowers, and so many things grew from the things that had died; so much love and happiness,” said Katsoudas.
Her hope is that the poetry serves as a reminder to the reader that the gravestones do not define anyone, but rather that they’re part of the journey to growing as a person.
“No matter how terrible it gets and how awful the feeling is, there is always something good that comes from that, and you will be so happy that you stuck around to see all of the things grow,” she said.
“I see so much growth between the two books, not just in the writing but in my own life and mind,” she added. “Seeing that much growth just between these two makes me excited about what the next book will be.”
“Gardens in Graveyards” was printed by The Troy Book Makers and is available in local bookstores, including Market Block Books in Troy and The Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza. It is also available on Amazon, with further information listed on Katsoudas’ website, linktr.ee/bkatsoudas.
This story appeared on page 1 of the August 30, 2023 print edition of the Spot