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Freedom in Free Verse: An Interview with Kai Van Dyke, author of Supernova

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Kai Van Dyke is a self-taught poet and artist from Ohio. Kai has always had an eye for the arts and spends the majority of their time writing, reading, and painting. They are passionate about helping people accept and understand themselves. Poetry has been a form of therapy and self-reflection for Kai and they aspire to have their work be just as meaningful to the reader.

You can buy Supernova here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The story behind Supernova actually begins in 2019. I was in high school collecting all the poems I had written so far and had the idea of creating one or three books. “Supernova” was the first word that came to mind when I looked through all my work; it seemed fitting for the theme that was developing. A supernova is an explosion of a star and I felt all my thoughts were exploding into art. Likewise, the amount of love I was expressing in each poem felt explosive but beautiful like a supernova. When it came time to send out my manuscript in 2022, I debated if Supernova was still the title—I changed it a few times, but ultimately Supernova just stuck.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

When I first received the proof copy of Supernova it felt so surreal, I almost cried. It was a full circle moment of a dream coming to life. Then when my first package of author copies arrived, the reality settled in that I was now a published author at twenty-one years old. I was ecstatic to finally have my book in the physical form and know that it would be available to the world too.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I have been writing stories since I learned how to hold a pencil. I got my first journal when I was five years old and would write short stories. Eventually when I got to high school, I was introduced to poetry. I immediately fell in love with the works of T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickenson, and Andrea Gibson. I discovered Button Poetry’s YouTube channel and felt so inspired by all the spoken word artists. Watching all those videos made me realize that I wanted to be a spoken word poet, too. First, I needed to start writing poetry, so I began to experiment with both meter and free verse. Over the years I found that free verse was more my style, but I still sprinkle in a few traditional structure elements. Other than realizing that I wanted to be a poet, the biggest takeaway from my freshman year English class was that not all poets are dead, meaning poetry wasn’t dead either! I am so happy that I fell hard for poetry and that I get to be an Atmosphere Press author now.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I worked in childcare for nearly a year. I was the lead teacher for a class of nine toddlers. They were all two and a half years old, and I loved getting to spend my time with that group. I had never worked with kids prior to getting this job at the daycare and it forever changed my perspective on kids (in a good way). I learned a lot about child development and just how kids interact with each other and their environment. Overall, it was a really fulfilling experience, but it was stressful.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

The most rewarding part of publishing is meeting the readers who have felt impacted by my work. I’ve had a few readings so far and at each event I meet new people who come up to me to talk about what my work has meant to them. It feels really special to have made an impact on those around me.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I am currently drafting my manuscript for my second work of poetry. Busy editing old poems that didn’t make it into Supernova and writing new poems for the second book. At the time of this interview, the second book has about forty poems and counting. It’s coming together really nicely and I think it will be a great sequel to Supernova! Other than writing, I always have an oil painting in the works. I like to focus with nature, realism, and a twist of abstract in all of my paintings.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

Working with Atmosphere Press was absolutely wonderful. Everyone from the very beginning has been so focused on what my goals as an author were and how to best represent my book. Atmosphere Press truly is author-focused and they will take good care of your work, transforming it from manuscript to a physical book. There are so many amazing team members at each stage of the publishing process that will be there for you. I would tell other writers who want to publish with Atmosphere Press that there will be no regrets or bad surprises; everything is designed to publish your work with all of your interests in mind.

You can buy Supernova here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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