By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on December 13, 2023.
A local young poet who has been sharing his poetry online for the last few years, has compiled more than 50 of his poems into a book where he writes about nature, hope, faith and love.
25-year-old Lethbridge poet Alexey Soshalskiy, author of “Aspen Grove” collection of poems, said he finds inspiration in nature to express feelings that sometimes are hard to explain.
“That’s exactly it, you use nature to describe things that you feel here (heart), because it’s very difficult to just put it into words, and even if you do tell a person in words they still won’t understand it, but if you related to something like nature then people understand it easier,” said Soshalskiy.
Within his book, readers can find poems about Alberta, Lethbridge, nature elements such as flowers, trees and animals, the seasons and the sky among others.
“The title of the book is “Aspen Grove” and I called it that because the Birch trees are my favourite tree. I feel extreme nostalgia whenever I look at a birch tree, it reminds me of my childhood. I feel almost like if I look long enough at a birch tree I feel euphoric sometimes, I feel happiness and joy, I love that tree. It’s just very beautiful and invokes poetic feelings of inspiration,” said Soshalskiy.
One poem that talks about Lethbridge is titled “Beloved City” and reads in part, “My dear beloved city, for you I’ll write a ditty. Your features sing a song, with them I’ll sing along. I’m charmed by all your looks; your warm and long Chinooks. Your winter and your spring, your birds that love to sing!”
“If you look through most of the poems, there’s some theological elements, philosophical elements, poems about life, heartbreak, typical poetic issues you could say,” said Soshalskiy.
When it comes to where the idea of putting his poems into a book came from, he said it came as an ask from his followers on social media as a way to make the poems more readily accessible to them.
“I was posting my poetry on social media and people were asking me where they could get a whole list of the poems, because when they are posted on social media they have to scroll back and forth through multiple posts to find the one that they want. The idea was to have them all in one place where they can just look up the table of contents and go directly to the poem they are looking for and that way they can read them any time, without having to search for them” said Soshalskiy.
He said even though his book is for sale he is not that interested in making a profit – his primary goal is to be able to share his poems with people.
“It wasn’t about the money, my book is very cheap, I make pennies off of it. I could raise it to try and make it more of a business, but that wasn’t the point. The only reason why it has a cost to it is because the paper and everything else that goes into making it has to be paid for. I also created an electronic version of it which is being sold for a dollar. Only because I had to put a dollar value to it in order to make it available in that format,” said Soshalskiy.
Even though his book has almost 60 poems in it, Soshalskiy has only been writing for the last few years. He remembers exactly when he wrote his first poem – Dec. 26, 2020 and in similar style to a journal, each of his poems contains the date they were written.
Soshalskiy said he never thought of being a poet – he never thought he would be writing at all, but now three years later he has written over a hundred poems.
“It is one of those weird things that just kind of happened. It is hard to explain, I would almost need to write a poem to describe how it happened. I never in a million years thought I would be a writer. If you and I talked four years ago, I would not been able to name a single poet,” said Soshalskiy.
He said he was nudged into it, almost pushed into it.
“It’s very hard to explain. In the last four years it’s like I wanted to do something and something happened in my life and I got humbled. I wanted to do something else and something else happened and I got humbled. It’s like life was telling me this is not for you. It was like I was nudged into a corner and was told I had to write,” said Soshalskiy.
When asked about how he chose the 57 poems that compile his book, Soshalskiy said it was a difficult process because he had more than 100 poems to choose from. He said he wanted to make sure he was sharing happy poems that could put a smile on the reader’s face instead of reading something melancholic that would make them sad.
“Sometimes you write because you feel like you want to take something out and write it on a piece of paper, and for me almost instinctually I would write about things that are a little bit difficult, so the by-product of that is a lot of the poems would have a little bit of a melancholic nature, and I would hate for people to read my poetry and then become sad,” said Soshalskiy.
He said he does not see himself as hopeless; on the contrary he would describe himself as an optimist, even though sometimes his poems don’t reflect that.
“There are some poems that I didn’t put in my book because I was scared that people could take them the wrong way and become hopeless without knowing thew full story. So I focused in sharing what I thought was positive and reflected my beliefs,” said Soshalskiy.
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