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Artist Spotlight: Poet and Essayist Neysa King

Interview with author, CEO, and all-around woman powerhouse. Watch the full video on YouTube as Neysa discusses her poetry book Rainbow Body. It tells an empowering story of self-discovery through sex, drugs, and sugar on Miami beach. Neysa explores interesting ideas through her 12-poem collection. Titled “Rainbow Body”, the book takes the reader on the journey looking into their own divinity and who we are when we look beyond the physical.

“I moved with a dream in my pocket about becoming a writer and publishing a book.” – Neysa King

It's an interesting story that would inspire a lot of people, if you don't mind sharing, what brought you to Miami?

Definitely! For the last ten or so years, I was in the tech industry. I was everything from an individual contributor to product manager, and I worked my way up to COO. In April of last year, the company I was working for had to let me go because of covid. I lost my job, and in parallel to that, I was reignited with my passion for writing. It was something that I had put to bed years before because it was impractical and thought “how was I going to make money off of that?” I was focusing on work at the time because it was a good living, and I had told myself that it was all I wanted. Around 2017, I found all my writing journals, and as I was looking through them, I was like "nobody is telling me I can’t write but me, nobody ever told me that, I’m the one who told ME that." I decided that I was just going to make it a part of my life, it didn't have to be my job, and I didn't have to make money off it.

“I'm just going to write because I love to write.” – Neysa King

So, I started writing every day for 10 minutes. Pretty soon I had a poem, then I had five poems, and eventually, I had a little book of poems. I started submitting them, and I got a few published. I started going to conferences, attending workshops, and worked with a coach by the name of Roger Reaves. Soon it became what I wanted to do every day.

“If I try and fail that’s one thing, but if I never try then that’s on me.” – Neysa King

I was living in Austin, Texas, and I got the idea to move to Miami. I felt called to come to Miami. For some reasons I can explain and some reasons I can’t, but one of them was living near the ocean. The ocean to me is just one of the most inspiring places you can be.

Miami has a vibrant writing community, particularly for poetry. With O Miami, Books and Books, and Mitchell Kaplan. Plus the big history of writers coming to Miami. So, I picked up and moved. I didn’t have a job and I didn’t know anybody in the city who was under the age of 65. So, I basically started over. In January, I got into a workshop with the poet Richard Blanco, Obama’s inaugural poet, about writing a chat book. It helped me coalesce my ideas, and now here we are.

Let’s dive more into your book, Rainbow Body.

Miami is wild in the greatest possible way. I feel like Miami, and particularly the beach is the center of the universe right now. After everybody has been so cooped up for more than a year, to be able to come to the beach and experience the chaos and sexual energy that really personifies Miami Beach, I think is what everybody wants to do right now. In some ways, maybe what they need to do to get back into themselves and getting out of their head and into their body. It was definitely the experience that I had when I moved here.

I had just broken up with a partner of mine that that was a five-year-long relationship. Unexpectedly, I thought I was going to come here with him, and instead, I was here by myself. On top of that, not knowing anybody and not having a job, I had also lost this foundational person in my life. I remember as soon as I got here, I felt the energy where suddenly everybody seemed to know me and was interested in me. I think it's just the energy of the city when you come here, it's different than any other place that I've been to. So, I tried to capture that, you know that sort of chaos and sexual energy that's on the beach; it's in the book. It's about my body and self-discovery, but it's set in that kind of indulgent and wild scenery.

What is the name Rainbow body about?

I thought of that name a year before I had even put together most of the poems in the book. I was actually here in Miami visiting to make sure I wasn't crazy, and I was going to like it if I moved. I was here for a month or so and as I was writing, I wrote down the phrase “rainbow body,” just because I thought it sounded cool. At the time, I thought “that's the title of the book,” and then throughout the process of writing it, I started trying to write poems about rainbows and bodies, but it was too forced, so I put that aside and thought OK maybe it's the title for A book but not THIS book. Then, one of the exercises I did with Richard Blanco was to think about my obsessions. What came out was that my obsession is my body. I decided that the title had to be Rainbow Body.

“My obsession is my body” – Neysa King

Part of it was really just the sonics. I liked the way the phrase sounds and it feels very Miami. There’s also this spiritual phenomenon called rainbow body. (It’s where a person’s body before death begins to shrink, and the idea is that they’re turning into light.) It plays thematically into the book, there’s discovery of our own divinity and who are we when we look at our hearts and our souls and is it beyond the physical.

How do you see the body playing a role in women? What do you see for the future of women? How does the empowerment of women affect men?

Those are all great questions! Part of what was so empowering about writing this book was really looking at myself in the mirror and facing down all the lies that I told myself about what my body was like. Until I turned my perspective into “no, that’s not ugly- that’s not a flaw. That is beautiful.” I had to do that to write the book well. It was a really empowering experience because we’re so trained to believe that there’s only one type of beauty and if we fall short of that, it is considered a flaw. We learn to deal with those flaws. To really look at myself and love every part of me, that alone was an empowering experience for me. It was not just because of physical beauty, but it made me get to know myself better.

“Your body tells a story. Your head and your body are connected.” – Neysa King

We often walk around in our heads, and I’m guilty of this. It’s something that I've been working on, and this book also showcases that journey. We’re always in our heads and you have to start with the body to get back into yourself and then you can break out again into more spiritual aspects or more intellectual aspects of yourself. If that's something you're not connected to, there's a piece of you that's missing.

How does one get to know their body?

It's different for every person. Individually, I think there's no prescription, you have to do the work to understand where you've been made to feel shame or guilt and question it.

“Love God and do what you want to do.” -St. Augustine

Let's talk a little bit about how you go about publishing a book. What was your “why” for publishing the book and how did that could drive you down the path of becoming a writer.

I think the first thing I would say is that you don't have to wait for anybody to publish. With poetry especially, it takes a long time. The way the publishing industry works, it's about six or eight months before you even get a response, and then who knows how long before you can get something published. When I was writing, I started publishing individual poems in journals. I created a routine to submit a certain number of poems, expecting a certain number of rejections but hoping that I would get some published. I did that to improve, to see what was getting placed so that I could learn from them. When I decided I had enough for a book, I decided to self-publish. I'm going with the company “book baby” and working with a book designer named Cody Gates. I decided to DIY it because it would be faster, and I didn't want to wait for somebody else to give me permission. For poetry, if you self-publish, it doesn't exclude you from getting picked up by a traditional publisher. So, my thinking was I might as well just get it out there to see what happens and see what kind of audience I can generate, and if something happens in the future with a traditional publisher then fine.

What made you go with the Book Baby group? What do they offer?

what I like about Book Baby is that they do all the distribution for you. You can get in places like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or whatever, and they'll help you with that so you're not having to keep up with it yourself. They also offer a lot of resources depending on how much you need. They'll help you with cover design, typesetting, marketing, etc. They sort of cast a wide net and you can pick and choose the things you want to do with them compared to other groups. I really enjoy working with them.

Did you know anyone that had published with them before and had good success?

A publisher who also did self-publish recommended me to Book Baby. She mainly published non-fiction, so she mentioned Book Baby and that was why I went with them.

What was the reason why you didn’t just go and put it in to create space or KDP and upload it?

I didn't trust myself to do it and make it look good, to be honest. To know exactly all the steps in terms of how to get it distributed, I wanted somebody else doing it for me. It's really the only reason I decided to do that.

Take us through the process of your in-cover design.

I am working with a local artist who’s a friend of mine on the cover design. He started a painting called "rainbow body" inspired by the work, it’s a really beautiful piece. It has that duality of looking into a mirror. One side being the rainbow, showing the divine creature versus what we actually see in the mirror. It’s a pretty trippy painting. I’m really excited for it to be the cover.

Did you have any aspiring tips for authors or aspiring writers out there?

It will go slower than you want it to go, so just be OK with that.

“Writing and releasing a book is an exercise in patience” -Neysa King

Involve experts! Go find people that have done this before. Pick their brain because there are lots of corners, you’re not necessarily going to have the tools to see around. So, just trying to pull in people that have done something like what you're trying to do and just talking to them would be some advice I have. Also, don’t skimp on the marketing. It was something I had a hard time doing and it’s still a big learning process for me. “You can write the greatest book ever, but if nobody knows about it then...”

What is next for you?

The best way to get updates is to follow me on Instagram which is @Neysa King. What's upcoming along is an official launch party with a physical book, an eBook which will have additional digital media assets in it, pictures of me, and an audiobook, which will be me reading the poetry with a guitar base behind it. There will also be an extra with another artist and friend of mine. His name is Brandon Tucker (@urban beauty boy on IG) he has this beautiful poem that I heard him read called “I love black men” and it's just great and I think we may end up releasing it as an audiobook then also on Spotify and other streaming channels. Right now, the book is finishing getting designed. Once that's done, it’ll go to print and it's about a four-to-six-week thing, so the actual release will probably be in the fall. If you follow me, I'll be posting all of those updates.

There are other books I have rattling around in my I had. I will probably do next is actually turn to fiction. I'd like to write a novel next. Once Rainbow Body is out in the world, then I will turn to it. Sneak Peek: the novel will be about the devil. It’s about a devil meeting a woman. Instead of tricking her or harming her, it takes her to new levels of consciousness.

What do you do with your professional services for brands?

Yeah, so I do take on freelance work and it's storytelling. Usually, it's for companies that are in the phase of startup growth or pivot who are trying to tell their story to an audience but maybe don't have the right way or mode of saying of telling that story or relating it to the audience. Basically, I take all my years as a product manager doing all the market research and understanding how to talk to customers and marrying that with my writing skills to create something that is easily understandable and visionary for the company to help capture whatever market they are trying capture.

Follow Neysa on Instagram and stay up to date on what she’s working on.



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