When Alaynah Luttrull arrived at the house her parents had rented in Switzerland, her face fell in disappointment. Tucked in the middle of the Swiss Alps, the 300-year-old property’s renovations were not as far along as the Luttrull family were led to believe. The only room that was fully furnished was the bathroom, and the kitchen had a wood stove.
“We were minorly convinced someone would come murder us in our sleep,” Luttrull, a freshman exercise science major, said with a laugh.
Despite their initial shock, the Luttrull family decided to stick it out and their time in old Swiss home turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of their lives.
“As much as [the house] was old, it was gorgeous,” Luttrull said. “You haven’t lived until you get to look out the little kitchen windows to see the Swiss Alps. There was something about staying in a house that had been there for so long that it kind of had soaked up the culture. at’s something that I’d always hoped I could do: ‘soak up the culture.’”
Now back in Milledgeville as a freshman at GC, Luttrull reflects on her experience growing up overseas in her self-published book of poetry “Sweet Tea and Wildflowers.”
When her parents broke the news that her father’s new job with the U.S. De- partment of State would transplant the family overseas, Luttrull responded with unexpected enthusiasm for a 12 year old. For the year before the move, she had been feeling restless in her “monotonous” Milledgeville life and yearned for change.
“For a sixth grader, that’s a really weird feeling,” Luttrull said. “Looking back, I think that it was a nudge in my spirit that something was going to happen. I feel like it was my body preparing me, or God preparing me, to take the news that my life was going to change as dramatically as I think a 12-year-old’s life can change without a tragedy happening.”
Initial excitement gave way to apprehension the week before she left, when the reality of the big move set in.
“We were being uprooted,” Luttrull said. “We would not be allowed to root again. Over the next 12 years at least, we had no home, no specific place.”
They packed up their lives and head to Warsaw, Poland, where the family lived for three and a half years before moving to Stuttgart, Germany.
As an eighth-grader in Warsaw, Luttrull discovered her passion for poetry through a class project. She now uses poetry as a form of self expression, a way to process things that have happened in her life.
“Sweet Tea and Wildflowers,” her self-published book of poems, began as a surprise gift for her family at her high school graduation party. It is a compila- tion of poems Luttrull has written from 2012 to her senior year of high school.
e title is a tribute to both her Southern American roots and her time abroad. Luttrull grew up in Milledgeville drinking her grandmother’s sweet tea, a habit she brought with her to Europe. e wild owers, on the other hand, repre- sent her life overseas.
“‘Wildflowers’ is a nod to who I try to be and hopefully who I am,” Luttrull said. “Wildflowers grow where they’re planted. You can’t hold out to move somewhere else. You have to flourish where you’re at.”
Luttrull’s childhood best friend Caitlyn Chivers, a sophomore psychology major at GC, illustrated the
book. The two have known each since they were babies, and have continued their friendship into college.
“We’re best friends, totally,” Chivers said. “We’ve been together through thick and thin, I love her to bits.”
Luttrull said her favorite poem changes with the day, but one that is particularly important to her is “Six Gulps of Willful Silence,” a poem about six times she felt she did not have a voice.
“It speaks very widely to some of the issues that women face in our society with sexual assault and almost feeling like we don’t have a voice sometimes,” Luttrull said. “I keep saying I’m not going to stay silent, and yet I keep my mouth shut, and I bury all this fiery indignation under six gulps of silence.”
Luttrull writes poetry when she is “brimming with emotion” and can only interpret her feelings as she writes them down. She also writes when she is thinking about something and comes upon a phrase she likes, which she builds a poem around.
“I’ll force myself to write a poem about that idea,” Luttrull said. “Eventually what will happen is
between all of my forced writing, something will click, and it’ll turn into something actually good. It’ll probably change the entire poem, but it’ll turn into something good.”
Her inspiration ebbs and ows. Sometimes, she will write three poems in the span of two hours, and other times, she won’t finish a poem for three weeks.
This book is likely only the beginning of Luttrull’s writing career.
“Sweet Tea and Wildflowers” is available for purchase on Amazon.