Stanzas By Sobylya

English Teacher Publishes Southern Poetry Book


Avery Wang

English teacher Rachel Sobylya grades at her classroom desk. Sobylya’s collection of poetry is available for pre-order online.

Jordyn Guzman, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Writing allows for true expression of one’s thoughts, ideas, and emotions. Though there exists many styles and forms of writing, arguably the least restrictive in terms of set rules and guidelines is poetry. English teacher Rachel Sobylya has delved into the world of poetry on many occasions, but never did she dream that her own poetry would be published for the world to read. 

“I think there’s such a stigma around poetry,” Sobylya said, “Students come into poetry expecting not to understand it. I even hear adults dismiss it. And so I think from an analytical standpoint, sometimes we beat it like a dead horse. But it really shouldn’t be like that. It’s really a true expression of emotion and I think if you don’t read it just to read it, then you will never have an appreciation for it.” 

Having taught poetry in AP Language and Dual Credit English classes, Sobylya expresses that she believes that most poetry taught in school is simply outdated. There is a fear rooted in the majority of people that they simply will not comprehend the poems that are presented to them. 

“You know, people just want to understand it and they don’t, or they feel like they can’t,” Sobylya said, “They feel like they’re looking for something in the poem instead of just letting the poem be itself.” 

Sobylya’s book, entitled ‘Dear River’, is derived from the title of the last poem in the collection. Sobylya describes her book as “place oriented,” meaning that the book, split into two parts, details her history with the South, and the other part detailing everywhere else. 

“My family has a lot of roots in the south. But also we have a very dark history,” Sobylya said, “And so it’s hard to come to terms with how I am really nostalgic for things, but also I know that some of my extended family members have beliefs that are really different than mine. The south is sort of haunted by things. For so long, I just felt like I was a part of the south. I think the theme is how do I reconcile memory and nostalgia with where I am now and how to reconcile the things that aren’t idealized.” 

Graduate school is where Sobylya fully took a leap into poetry for the first time. With many of her classes requiring her to write, time opened up to where she could write more often. The first time she has ever submitted her work for publication was for her undergraduate literary journal. With the multitude of submissions came lots of rejection. However, as reflected in her most recent work, these experiences have only helped Sobylya to grow as a writer.

“I submitted to Finishing Line Press, they’re one of the two that I had submitted to,” Sobylya said, “You just forget. once you submit, it is very much in the back of your mind because it’s many months before you hear back. On the last day of school last year, I got an email. And I saw it was from a journal, so I always expect rejection. And so when I read it I was like ‘Oh, I wonder who’s getting published.’ But then I saw the title and was like oh my god, like wait a second. I was very excited but also really nervous. I just spent the summer getting things together for it.” 

Preorders for ‘Dear River’ run until November 29. The book is set to be published January 24 with additional copies being available after the publishing date. They can be purchased at .

“I heard a poet say one time that he wouldn’t say anything about his own poems,” Sobylya said, “It’s just whatever the reader wanted to get out of it. I decided a couple of years ago that ultimately I was writing to write, not so much for myself, but I felt like I had things to say. If other people wanted to read it with hopes that they would maybe identify with it, even if not in the same way that I do. I guess it’s whatever they get out of it is what I would like readers to take away.”