What happens when you plan to move to Australia to be with your long-distance boyfriend and then he dumps you for another man he’s secretly been dating behind your back, what can you possibly do?
For me, I would cry and eat, but for author Kevin Tyler Norman, he simply put his heartbreak into almost 200 words of poetry and prose that eventually became a book he self-published called Shelter.
The Los Angeles native poured his heart out into this book about an experience you would only hear about in the movies or on some talk show of sorts. Not only that, but this is someone who is keeping the art of poetry alive and well, even if it means doing it in the form of discussing how someone almost destroyed your life (good news, they didn't).
Kevin chatted with me exclusively about how this whole thing came about, if he actually did move down under and what he got out of this experience more than anything else.
Tell us a little more about Shelter and how you were able to create nearly 200 pages of poetry from it.
In all honestly, I actually had to stop myself from adding more poems! It was the type of thing where I wanted to make sure I said everything I needed to say because I didn’t want to have to revisit this part of my life again after. I wanted to put that entire relationship, both the good and the bad, down on paper and make sure I told the right story. Shelter is actually a collection of bits and pieces of a few of my other past relationships but focuses heavily on my most recent one. That was a type of heartbreak I had never experienced before and hope to never have to go through again. However, I compiled the book so it reads like I’m talking about just him. My way of coping and trying to understand why things happen is to write them down and thus Shelter was born. I always knew I wanted to share my poetry, but I never felt like I had anything monumental to say and now I do. I walked away from that relationship quietly, but now this is me screaming back. I wasn’t going to go through all that pain and not have something to show for it. I wish my heart didn’t have to break for me to create my book, but you have to work with what you’re given, and I wasn’t going to waste that material.
Just to confirm here… you didn't wind up moving down under yes?
Correct—I did not move down under! BUT I did have a plane ticket bought to move to Australia and had told all my friends and family, but after he told me he wanted to be with someone else I wasn’t going to change my entire life for someone who clearly didn’t want me in theirs.
He must have been some type of person to create all this poetry about. Was the relationship that intense from the get?
It was the type of relationship a hopeless romantic would dream of—a foreign boy, sexy accent, promises of forever, the longing in the distance. At first, I felt like someone was choosing me over anyone else in the entire world and that felt good but turns out it was too good to be true. When we first met it was intense because we literally spent every day together in LA. The immediate passion was something I never felt before and everything seemed so romantic from the surface but after that week, I was trying to be realistic and thought that was the end of us because of the distance. Then, he told me this was just the beginning and we were more than just a week-long romance and I believed him.
After he left, we talked and FaceTimed nearly every day and he even flew out to LA about a month later to visit me, and then again to surprise me for my birthday. It seemed so perfect that I fell in love, and he convinced me he was in love, too. Turns out he was just a master manipulator and while making these promises with me, he was also making the same ones to someone else in Australia and I didn’t find out I until I flew there to essentially be with him forever. Overall, I think it felt so intense because there was never any actual security in the relationship. It was like a rollercoaster without a seatbelt and all I could do was hold on and hope to survive.
Is this something that you hope to turn into a movie someday?
I had never thought about turning Shelter and my story into a movie, but several people have asked me the same thing! It really makes me wonder if maybe I should. I’m not opposed to it, and if it does happen, I totally want to play me!
What do you hope your readers get from reading Shelter?
I hope they reflect on their own heartbreaks and know they are not alone. Poetry has always been my shelter and made me feel safe. It has always given me the words when I couldn’t process what I was feeling, and I hope I do the same for those who read it. I want people to feel understood. We live in a world where we are often told not to express ourselves and our emotions, but I hope to show people what can happen when you do. Also, as a gay man, I want people to see that love is universal no matter your gender or sexuality—our hearts love and break just the same.
Anything big planned for 2019?
Honestly, I’m not much of a planner, but 2019 has been top of mind as of late! I think the best adventures come from just seeing where life takes you. I have nothing solid planned, but I do have some ideas of what I would like to accomplish this year. Becoming a planner is one of them, but I have a few other items on my “to-do” list like starting a web series, creating a spoken word album layered with music and applying for a Fulbright scholarship to study abroad for my master’s degree. No matter what happens though, I feel like 2019 is going to be a big year and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.