Storm Stanley: Love and Faith
How would you define love in a tweet? Admittedly, this is a hard question to pose to anyone, let alone a 19-year-old. But when we asked Storm Stanley, a young poet recently featured by Nationwide, she answered by displaying wisdom beyond her years – “I’d probably say: love is me willingly laying my life down for you.”
Storm is a poet who has engaged in deep thought since an early age. She wrote her first poem at just 8 years old – “a terrible poem”, she says – called School Break. At 9, she was gifted her first Bible and started reading just because she “wanted to know who God was.”
By 11, she’d sent a poem to her local MP alongside a letter complaining about taxes. At 14, she performed poetry for the first time at her local church and laughed the whole way through due to nerves. However, her story of a man who claimed to be Christian on a Sunday but wasn’t true to his faith on the other six days of the week still resonated with the congregation.
Approaching the end of her teenage years, Storm continues to write and speak with more clarity than ever about her relationship with God and her faith, but also her other favourite subject: “I love to write about love.”
“I actually did look up the definition of love on Google once and it said ‘feeling affection for someone’, or something like that. It was very vague. I was like ‘is this what we’re all searching for? Is this it?’”
It’s perhaps telling that Storm’s own definition of love is one of sacrifice and service. “I shouldn’t love you because I expect love back. It’s not about me, it’s about you. I know that sounds dangerous and unrequited love hurts, but it all stems back to my faith – if He came and loved with the potential of people rejecting Him, the same should apply to me.”
Her poems on YouTube and Instagram regularly centre around the topic of love, drawn from both her own experiences and those of her friends. Storm quotes the Bible, musing that ‘love suffers long’. Storm’s understanding is that to experience the joy of love, you also need to know that love can hurt.
In the poem He Loves Me, Storm tackles another side of love. In it, she tries to understand how a woman in an abusive relationship can see physical abuse from her partner as ‘love’. The voice she talks from tries to reason that “he loves me so bad that it hurts. The bruises around my eyes, I call them sunsets.”
He Loves Me is born from the experiences of three separate girls Storm came in contact with during her first year of university, who were all experiencing domestic violence.
“I remember talking to someone who was going through it and they kept telling me ‘but no, he loves me’. At the time, I just thought ‘so, is that your idea of love?’ I couldn't understand it. I had to really put myself in their shoes so I could try to relate to how the survivor keeps going despite the abuse. I think people like to hold on to a moment — to either who the person could be or who they once were.”
Rooted deep throughout Storm’s poetry is the contradictions of love — its pain and tragedy, but also the absolute necessity of love.
When it's done right, Storm says, “Love brings things together. It can heal a lot of people.”
Storm Stanley is a poet and spoken word artist based in London. She was featured in Nationwide’s Class of 2017 advertising campaign and regularly posts work on social media, as well as performing at live events.
If you or if you think someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you're not alone. There are many organisations out there offering help and advice - such as Refuge.org.uk