Sturm publishes his verses in 'Clouds'

August 09, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- Six years and 60 poems mesh in Joseph Sturm's recently published "Counting Clouds."

The Mercersburg resident started writing poetry at age 16. Now 21, Sturm self-published the book and is selling copies through Web sites and his college's bookstore.

Sturm said he hears a lot of comments like "wow" and "whoa" when people are reading the book near him.

"I have a lot of random people e-mailing me and thanking me," Sturm said.

Born in San Diego, Sturm moved to Altoona, Pa., as a child. He entered the foster-care system and was adopted at age 13 by Nicholas and Diane Sturm of Mercersburg.

The beauty of Mercersburg made an impact on Sturm.

"I think the reason I liked it was because of the views," he said.

Sturm studied at Mercersburg Academy and fell in love with martial arts at Thompson's Karate Studio in Greencastle, Pa. He enrolled at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., where he studies English and is working on a minor in anthropology.


He hopes to teach at Mercersburg Academy someday.

Peggy Smith taught Sturm's language and rhetoric class during his freshman year at Saint Vincent College. She described him as quiet and contemplative.

"He feels things very deeply," Smith said.

Smith read and enjoyed "Counting Clouds," and said she expects him to further blossom when he takes creative writing courses this fall.

"He's a very creative, talented young man. He can go a long way," she said.

Sturm described his poetry as "realist mixed with a bit of idealism." The work tackles romance and socio-political themes.

"In a way, it's about morals. ... It's showing today's events in a different light," Sturm said.

His first poem, "You are a Rose," is in the book, which sells for $15.

As he continues to sell "Counting Clouds" on Web sites like, Sturm is simultaneously working to get a book of poetry published through traditional processes. He's also completing a children's book.

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