Interview with Taisiia Solodka

June 1, 2023
Rebecca Colby

Taisiia Solodka is 16 years old and leaves currently in Karlsruhe, Germany, due to the war in Ukraine. She is a first-year student in the Bachelor of International Information and International Communication at the Karazin Kharkiv National University and also she studies at Karlsruhe Institut of Technology at the preparatory college for international students called Studienkolleg. She is an active community member and volunteers in several organizations against discrimination and for access to science for youth, as she herself is a scientist in the field of chemistry and ecology, she is also an eco and human rights activist, as part of this activity, her work was written. Furthermore, Taisiia is an official member of the European Youth Parliament and is a Young European Ambassador, moreover, she is involved in the leadership. Taisiia believes that everyone can and should contribute to their society in any available way.

Tell us what we would see if we could look out your window with you right now.

A huge box with a lot of symmetrical window lights that light up every evening after dark, it seems that there is nothing but lines of window frames. An ordinary building, in which there is nothing remarkable, is one of the many buildings of a German student dormitory, where, regardless of the time of day, you can easily watch what is happening in the opposite rooms, so close are the buildings to each other. At the same time, you can endlessly watch how pigeons sit on the windowsills, how the wind sways a lonely standing tree in the courtyard between the buildings, or how students run out of the porches like ants.

Describe your home or hometown to readers.

My home isa place where, regardless of everything, warmth and comfort reign, probably never before the war and moving to another country, I thought about how good it is at home, crossing the threshold of my house in Kyiv. Everything feels different at home, every smell, corner, scratch on the wall or wallpaper torn off by a cat behind the cabinet in the bedroom, all this is so dear and it is impossible to describe how much I miss all this. My home always had a lot of flowers and foliage, standing absolutely everywhere, and also often smelled of pastries or other types of food that my mother cooked every day. It was always warm and good at home, the daily joint dinner with the whole family and gatherings will remain forever in my heart.

Where do you write? What time of day do you write? Do you have a particular writing process?

I never had a specific place, time, or process that helped me start writing, often I just write on my phone in notes while riding the bus to school. In other cases, I write the first thing that comes to mind when I can’t fall asleep for a longtime.

How would you define "imagination"?

Imagination is difficult to describe with a set of words, in the Ukrainian language there is an expression "flight of imagination" and this is probably what describes imagination the most. Any thought, fantasy, idea is like a flight, you cannot stop it, your brain comes up with more and more new additions, draws new branches and roots to the "tree" of each idea. Imagination is the interpretation and processing by the brain of what it consciously and unconsciously sees, hears and feels while living life, and this is incredibly beautiful.

If you described Ukraine in three words or phrases, what comes to mind?

With the outbreak of war, it will definitely be strength, resilience and origins.

How do you feel living through a war has affected your way of writing?

No matter how sad it was, I probably began to write much less, there was too much of everything that required my attention and time, and this could not positively affect how and how much I write. At the same time, perhaps my works have become a little deeper and more meaningful, sometimes with hidden overtones.

Who are your favorite authors?

With the outbreak of the war, I became interested in many Ukrainian authors, and most of all, the Ukrainian writer Lina Kostenko sunk into my soul, who has been creating all her life and does not stop doing it, her works are imbued with meaning up and down, she expresses the thoughts of all of us with her unique words. Probably one of her favorite poems for me is this one, and although it changes in translation, it is still beautiful:

     The silent words are frightening and mean,

     they hide at times to make the fears steady,

     and you don't know how to begin,

     for someone all these words has been used already.


     They keep somebody's tears, torture, pain,

     the cry of birth and that last dying sound.

     People are billions, stocks of words 're the same,

     but yours must ring as if for the first time found .


     Things are repeated : ugliness and beauty.

     The paths and highways aren't new at all.

     The Poetry's unique , its sacred duty's

     to wake immortal chords of our soul.


Besides writing, what are you interested in? (Hobbies, sports, music, etc.)

To count everything that I do, there are not enough fingers of both hands. I volunteer in various positions in the team in several areas, such as ecology, protection of the rights of women and people in general, access to science for young people and greater rights for women in science in general, I do this in such non-profit organizations as WiTech Ukraine, UkrTeenScience , Climate Science. I am also interested in science myself, I already have 2 scientific papers on my account, one in pedagogy with an emphasis on the history of the development of access to education for women and the second in chemistry with an emphasis on ecological water treatment, both of them have awards. Another area of my activity, in which I also study at a Ukrainian university, is diplomacy, I am a Young European Ambassador, and for the last almost three years I have been involved in the European Youth Parliament and will represent Ukraine at sessions, in various positions, such as head committee, delegate and organizer of the sessions. In addition, in my free time I play basketball and draw, as I plan to study architecture in Germany in the future.

Tell us a bit about your family (siblings, pets, relatives).

My family is relatively small, I have a sister from my brothers. At the same time, I have a cat, a dog and two rats, but unfortunately, all but the dog stayed in Ukraine with my dad, whom we had not seen for more than a year. At the expense of the so-called large family, I have neither uncles nor aunts, and my grandparents live all their lives in another city and I saw them at best once a year in the summer on vacation for a short time.

How did you start writing creatively? Do you remember the first creative piece you wrote?

Probably it all started back at school on assignments with writing ordinary essays, because it was there that we showed our imagination, imagination and creativity.

What's your school like in terms of its writing instruction?

Rather bad than good, in the Ukrainian education system, all texts as a whole are adjusted to clear instructions and rules for writing them, so there is no way to fully reveal your creative potential.

Any advice on how to write in a time of difficulty or turmoil? When parts of regular life are falling apart, how do you find the space in your mind and heart to write?

For me, writing this is probably a way to live through some kind of difficulties, sometimes it’s easier to throw out emotions by writing them, for sure those are not the full-fledged works, I just write my emotions.

Is writing your main outlet for handling these tough times? Is there anything else you do to cope as an adolescent "under the madness" of the world?

Perhaps writing is still not the main way to deal with stress for me now. I rather tend to run away from problems and difficulties, so I try to just fill the schedule to capacity, projects, assignments, study, whatever, just to get rid of heavy thoughts, because when it comes to writing, all thoughts come back and you feel that the very pressure of the "cruel world".

How has knowing your work will be published in English affected your writing style?

This particular work was originally written in English, so it didn't affect the wayI write in general.

"Under the Madness lies literature" - Unknown
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A magazine for teen writers—by teen writers. Under the Madness brings together student editors from across New Hampshire under the mentorship of the state poet laureate to focus on the experiences of teens from around the world. Whether you live in Berlin, NH, or Berlin, Germany—whether you wake up every day in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North or South America—we’re interested in reading you!