There is a little village situated in central France called Vincelles. Like many small villages in the region, there is a strong sense of history and family amongst its 957 residents.
On its coat of arms that hangs proudly on the wall of their city hall, there is a small feather that was added to recognize on a man who helped build the first castle in the community back in the 1700s. The man’s name was Edme Germain Villetard deVincelles, the four-times-great-grandfather of Sault resident, Alex Chornyj.
“History and family is paramount in my life,” he says. “Without knowing where you come from, how do you know where you are going? How do you have an identity? How do you have pride in your family name if you don’t know where that family name came from?”
In 2003, Chornyj decided to retrace his family history and traveled to England and France for six weeks.
“I was researching my family history … It was almost a reminiscence from another life. I was just trying to reconnect with my family’s heritage, [particularly] in France. It was really an amazing journey.”
In Paris, Chornyj connected with cousins who brought him to the village of Vincelles. The village’s name is connected to three bloodlines, one of which, deVincelles is directly connected to Chornyj’s mother’s maiden name Villetard.
“The reason they named the town after my mom’s bloodline is because my four-times-great-grandfather, was a benefactor to the town. He was very philanthropic and altruistic.”
Chornyj described his journey to follow his family’s history in France as a “reawakening.” After his return to Sault Ste. Marie, the experience and strong sense of connection to the region in France didn’t leave him.
Chornyj has been writing stories, articles and poetry for more than forty years. The town of Vincelles played a part in what was to be the writer’s first collection of published poems.
Although Chornyj had published individual pieces in magazines and journals, he had never come across the “right” outlet for a collection of his work.
“I have always held out for the principle of being with a true publisher.”
Fast forward to December 2019, that publisher came to him, after finding his work on a popular poetry website, Poetry Superhighway, run by writer Rick Lupert.
“The publisher, having viewed my writing on Poetry Superhighway, observed and read my work and told me that he was impressed with the sincerity, depth, love, caring and emotion [that were] all intertwined together.”
Cyberwit, a leading publisher of books of poetry in India, wanted to publish 50 or 60 of Chornyj’s poems.
“It all came together very quickly. It didn’t take more than a month and a half for us to go back and forth….with design and editing.”
Interestingly, Chornyj notes that the majority of the poetry chosen for the book was written in the past year.
“The poetry in this book is a wide variety of very esoteric kind of writing … but with my writing, it has always been spirit-guided. Being a lightworker, I am always working with the energy, and the more you work with the energy, the more adept you become.”
The book is also special for Chornyj in that he was asked to create the artwork for it.
“Being a Reiki master, I have an affinity with earth’s elements. Through the years I have been able to, at times, feel with my hand the energy up in the clouds. I look up and take a picture. Once I develop the photo, then I can see a spiritual entity within that image. The one that is on the cover of this book is a unicorn. It is absolutely resplendent,” laughs Chornyj, noting his love of that particular adjective.
“There’s rhyme and reason to everything. Each [poem] flows from one to the other … they are all connected with energy, spirit, love and light … I am just glad that this publisher came and opened a door … It has always been my dream to see the actual binding, with the thoughts that are within the spectrum of this energy, and all that has created.”
When it came to title the collection, he wanted to do represent that reconnection to family, family origins and the community he visited in 2003. For Chornyj, Vincelles and the confluence of the parts that brought this book together was not a coincidence.
“It’s the current working all together in one stream. This book all runs within the same stream from front cover to the back, focusing on what has been going on in my life in the last year.”
About a month ago, before his book was released, Chornyj contacted the mayor’s office in Vincelles. “I told them that I wanted to dedicate the book to them and sent them a copy … They were totally overwhelmed by the kindness.”
As the book was being printed, Chornyj found himself writing another poem for the French village, which he shared with the community.
“They said they are going to translate this latest poem I have written and put it on the wall of their city hall right beside the coat of arms. I was crying on the phone with them … They said they can feel the love, caring and honour I have for this country. They told me that there is no greater gift that I could have given them than that book.”
The mayor’s assistant invited Chornyj to come and visit the community, which he plans to do with his wife.
Vincelles was officially launched at a well-attended reading, meet and greet and book signing at the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library.
“This book is a dream come true. It’s like walking on water or walking on air. I look at the book, see that name and I pinch myself. I think, ‘Am I in another dimension? Did I walk through a portal somewhere?’”
Chornyj hopes readers find meaning in his writing.
“The true meaning doesn’t come from reading it once, but rather, reading it two or three times. Then the wheel starts to move and you go up a step in ascension … It represents a higher meaning, higher understanding and cognizant of what life truly entails. Life is a precious gift and I look to the future with the sparkling eyes of a child.”
Chornyj summed up the impact publishing this book has had on him while addressing attendees at the library event.
“Welcome to one of the greatest days of my life.”
Bayliss Public Library in Sault, Michigan will be holding a special launch for Vincelles with Alex Chornyj on Tuesday, March 24th from 7:00 to 9:00 pm