Kendall Nichols and the publication of her book “Modern Constellations” – The Reflector

Kendall Nichols, a junior education specialist at the University of Indianapolis, released her first book “Modern Constellations,” a collection of poems and short stories published by Atmosphere Press on March 10, 2021. Nichols said writing of the book had taken some time and he was adding work and editing until he sent the final draft to publication.

“It took me a good two weeks to a month to flesh it all out,” Nichols said. “When I was accepted, I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t like it that much, let me add that track. Literally two days before sending them my final post, I added a poem, which is now my favorite poem. I just felt like it had to go and now I’m really glad I did.

Nichols said he had some issues with the publication and their suggestions with the book, such as removing or adding certain works. The publishers, however, helped with the final title of the book that brought it out, he said.

“I see it like, in ancient times, the Babylonians, Spartans, Alexandrians, whatever, look up and the constellations mean something, don’t they? We look up these days, the constellations are still there, but we can’t fully see them because of everything like air pollution, smog and just legitimate pollution,” Nichols said. “They are still there, but from now on, we see things differently. So literally, times are changing. This is what the book is supposed to represent. . . . Originally, [the title] was “Looking at the stars with a closer fascination”. But my editors were like “we like your theme and we think you should modify it”, so we came up with “Modern Constellations”.

Logan Wang NICHOLS

When Nichols was early in the writing process, he worked with Cornell University senior student Trisha Dube, a friend who helped him edit and proofread things. He said he first met her in freshman year when he was at Cornell.

“Initially, when Kendall [Nichols] came up to me and said he was going to write a book, he had a pretty big collection of poems he was working with and working on,” Dube said. “I’ve always been interested in poetry, so we shared our poetry with each other. Then I was super excited when he asked me to go through them and see which ones I liked.

Dube said she was grateful for her friendship with Nichols. Thanks to him, her outlook and perspective on poetry changed from the traditional poetry she studied in class, she said.

“He [Nichols] gave me a very interesting perspective on poetry. I don’t know if I’ve ever expressed that to him,” Dube said. “But it’s interesting because, for me, what I know about poetry comes from school…. There was this poem that Kendall [Nichols] made me read what he wrote, and I was like ‘this is nothing like anything I’ve ever read before.’ It kind of challenged my perception of what poetry is.

Nichols said more recently that the Chicago Public School District uses “modern constellations” as teaching materials and asks students to study the poems and short stories it contains. He said he was contacted by a teacher who needed a lot of copies, so Nichols gave them a discount.

“I never thought they would teach this for a creative process, let alone someone as erratic as me,” Nichols said. “I spoke to a few teachers and I was like, ‘hey, if you ever need anything, I’m here.'”

Nichols said her goal was to be able to have as much creative freedom in her work as possible. The main problem is that it can be difficult to find a publisher who will give authors freedom and generate revenue from the book at the same time, he said.

“I want to find a place that allows me to be as creative in poetry as possible,” Nichols said. “…Worst case scenario I’ll just go into self-publishing, but I really don’t want to do that because it’s way too much work that I never want to put in.”

“Modern Constellations” is currently sold on Nichols’ website, Nichols said he has two more books currently in the works.

Jacob L. Thornton