By Alan Madlane
Ksenia Rychtycka, is a former Hamtramck resident and a Ukrainian-American poet and author. Our readership may remember her name from a prior interview article that we here at The Hamtramck Review did after the publication of her last book, “Crossing the Border.”
She has had both poems and short fiction pieces published in a variety of publications, including Alaska Quarterly Review, The Dalhoussie Review, The Literary Bohemian, Hubbub and The Washington Review.
Her latest book is all poetry. We checked in to talk to her about it.
The Review: When did your latest book of poems come out?
Rychtycka: My chapbook, titled “A Sky Full of Wings,” was released on September 10, 2021.
The Review: What inspired you to go the poetry route this time, after publishing a book of short stories last time?
Rychtycka: I’ve always enjoyed poetry. My mom was a poet who wrote in Ukrainian and published seven books of poems. So, poetry was a big part of my life from childhood, both at home and in school.
I attended Immaculate Conception Ukrainian Catholic grade-, and high schools in Hamtramck, as well as a Saturday Ukrainian School, where we studied, and recited, poetry on a regular basis. So although I focused on fiction for many years, I also wrote poems from time to time.
My poems were published in different literary journals, and this gave me added confidence.
After my short story collection was published, I wanted to focus on a different genre. I also had more limited stretches of time to write, due to a daily job and parenting responsibilities, so it became easier for me to work on poems.
The Review: Tell us a little about the publishing process, if you could, including any information about the overall cost to put out such a book?
Rychtycka: I completed my chapbook in the spring of 2020, about a month after the pandemic lockdown began. I then entered my manuscript in a few national poetry chapbook competitions. The book was selected as a finalist in the 2020 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition.
In total, there were 349 entries and, as a fifth-place finalist, I was offered the opportunity to publish with Finishing Line Press, an award-winning small press publisher based in Georgetown, Kentucky.
The Review: Has your book been picked up by any online sellers, or how are you getting it out there, other than on your website?
Rychtycka: Yes, “A Sky Full of Wings” is available through online retailers. There are both paperback and hard cover editions.
The paperback can be ordered through the Finishing Line Press Bookstore.
Hardcover and paperback editions are also available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon, as well as other online retailers.
Locally, the book will be available at the Ukrainian American Archives and Museum gift shop, located at 9630 Joseph Campau.
The Review: Has the book been reviewed anywhere yet?
Rychtycka: That is currently in process.
Review copies are being submitted to The Midwest Review, Readers Favorite, Nash Holos Ukrainian Radio, and Seneca Review, among other places.
Additionally, reviews on Amazon or Goodreads are highly appreciated, so please consider posting a review if you get a chance to read the book. It really helps authors out.
The Review: Have you done, or are you planning to do, any live readings from the book? Has the pandemic altered your plans in this regard at all?
Rychtycka: A live book launch is scheduled for November 14, at 2 p.m., at the Ukrainian American Archives and Museum of Detroit on Joseph Campau.
Of course, if the situation changes, the museum will follow all appropriate health protocols. There will be a couple of readings through Zoom, although there are no definitive dates at this time. Yes, the pandemic has certainly changed the way that we all operate.
The Review: Have you any plans to put out another book, and if so, are you already working on it, or have you planned out what it will be yet?
Rychtycka: I’m going back to writing fiction for now, and am in the early stages of a first draft. It’s a fictionalized account of a historical woman, and is set in 11th-century Ukraine and Norway.
Obviously, there’s a lot of research involved with this type of project. I’m interested in telling the stories of women who were overlooked in the chronicles and history books.
I’m not done with poetry though. In fact, I’ve written a couple of poems focusing on this woman, as a way to explore her character. I have other ideas too, so we’ll see what comes of that.
The Review: Please feel free to add something here, if you would like.
Rychtycka: Thanks for this opportunity!
I’d just like to add that the cover art for my chapbook is a painting by Edward Kozak (1902-1992), who was a renowned Ukrainian artist, and worked as an animator in television films here in Detroit.
The Ukrainian Museum in Hamtramck is currently hosting an exhibit of his son’s artworks, titled “Yarema Kozak – Deliberate Versatility,” which runs to October 31.
If you have a chance, stop by and check it out!
Posted Oct. 22, 2021