Home Medford News Shawnee alum starts her own publishing house

Shawnee alum starts her own publishing house

Sophia Westfall's Secret Society of Poetry welcomes writers in all mediums

As an aspiring writer, 19-year-old Sophia Westfall wanted “to create an opportunity that would not only give back to her community, but enhance other writers.”

Sophia R. Westfall is the founder of The Secret Society of Poetry, an online publishing house designed for young and aspiring writers.

It publishes more than just lyric literature. The Secret Society also welcomes writers of all mediums – artists, photographers, essayists, and writers alike – for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be published.

As an aspiring writer herself, 19-year-old Westfall wanted “to create an opportunity that would not only give back to her community, but enhance other writers.”

“Growing up, my imagination often spilled out my ears and slopped onto the ground, making a messy attempt at art,” she recalled in a story about herself on the Secret Society’s website.

“But it wasn’t until middle school that I began to love reading, or more specifically, writing,” Westfall added. “In September of 2017, mere middle-school me, began writing my first book.

“In terms of writing, the rest was history.”

Westfall had her first short story published at a young age, winning The Young Writers award while a sophomore at Shawnee High School. Her literary journey only blossomed from there; she went on to win the same award two years later, and also got a collection of other work published while attending Rutgers University in Camden.

Between school, work and finishing up her first fiction novel, The Secret Society of Poetry has slowly grown from a hobby for Westfall to a world all its own. It was not her successes that led her to create the publishing house, but her countless failures.

“Like many new and emerging writers, I was submitting my work left and right to literary magazines and scholar blogs and academic reviews and poetry contests,” Westfall remembered. “And one by one, I received the devastating email that my work ‘was simply not a good fit for our publication’ and how they’d hope I’d submit again.

“I watched as my identity crumbled before me,” she continued. “For if I am not a writer, then what am I? The answer was easy: I am Sophia R. Westfall, founder of The Secret Society of Poetry.”

Westfall said she hopes to bring a handful of her best society members to The New York Society of Poetry Festival in July, where they will read their selection of poetry aloud on stage for the mass public to hear.

The Secret Society of Poetry first went live in 2023, welcoming writers to submit their work for consideration. Since then, multiple essays, poems, and short stories have been published and contests have ensued.

The Secret Society has two contests currently open for submissions, including a local high- school poetry contest for students in the Lenape Regional High School District and Philadelphia region. She also has a short story/essay contest going with the themes of sustainability, fashion and environmentalism.

The deadline for both contests is April 1 at 11:59 p.m. The first-place winner will receive a free physical copy of their publication and promotion across all Secret Society media. Remaining entrants will be published in a collective edition that will be available both online and as a physical copy.

In addition to all contests, The Secret Society of Poetry is open for rolling submissions of any kind. To submit, visit thesecretsocietyofpoetry.com and follow their journey on Instagram at @thesecretsocietyofpoetry.

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