A New Chapbook, Readings, and Links

I’m excited to announce that my chapbook, Ardor, is out in the world. It won the annual chapbook competition from Jacar Press, please purchase it there (hit order on the top line.)

I also have a couple readings coming up I hope people can attend:

Thursday, October 19, at 7 p.m., I’ll be reading at the Thursdays are for Poetry Series, CLASSIC QUICHE. 230 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666 Open mic. min $10.

Saturday, I’ll be joining a number of my favorite New Jersey poets at a celebration of the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, beginning at 12 noon Warren County Community College. Here’s what’s happening:

Readings by Martin Farawell, Laura Boss, Kenneth Hart, Charles H. Johnson, Tina Kelley, Diane Lockward, John McDermott, Peter Murphy, Khalil Murrell, Priscilla Orr, Joe Weil, Gretna Wilkinson, and Sander Zulauf. All of these poets will read some original work, as well as their favorite poems by other poets who have appeared at one or more of the Dodge Festivals. Also on hand to celebrate will be Festival Co-Founders Scott McVay and Jim Haba. Books will be available for purchase. Join us in beautiful (particularly during this time of year) Warren County for this very special event. Free and open to the public. More details, including the afternoon’s schedule, can be found here.

Some of my writing has been appearing online lately, including this poem from Ardor on VerseDaily.

I’ve been honored to interview Pattiann Rogers for Terrain.org and The Poetry Foundation.

Lastly, here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to in my day job, journalist, in New Jersey Monthly.


Upcoming Readings

Hi, I’m excited to announce the following readings, featuring poems from Abloom & Awry, my new collection, out last month from CavanKerry Press. Please show up if you can! And please tell your friends who live in the various neighborhoods.

Saturday, May 27, 2017 at 7 PM I’ll be reading with Anton Yakovlev, courtesy of the North Jersey Literary Series, at Classic Quiche Café, 330 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck, New Jersey. Open Mic will follow. There’s a $10 minimum, come early and enjoy a relaxing meal. Café phone is 201- 692- 0150. Anton’s latest poetry collection is Ordinary Impalers (Aldrich Press, 2017) and he has authored two chapbooks: Neptune Court (The Operating System, 2015) and The Ghost of Giant Wood (Finishing Line Press, 2015). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, Prelude, Measure, and elsewhere.

Sunday, May 28, I’ll be reading at Mamapalooza, in Riverside Park South. I’ll be joining a group of writers from Mom Egg Review, time to be announced. The Festival’s theme is “SING OUT SISTER” with mothers and the people who love them, featuring music, family-focused vendors, wellness activities, art, & activism. 2017’s theme inspires all to find their voice and bring a message of peace, tolerance, and equality. Fierce FEMINISTS as well as FAMILIES of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds WELCOME.

On Tuesday, June 6 I’ll be joining Joan Cusack Handler and Danny Shot at the Cornelia Street Underground, 29 Cornelia Street in New York City, at 6 p.m. Joan is the publisher of CavanKerry Press and her most recent book, Orphans, is a verse memoir that explores our most primitive and essential relationships – those with our parents. Danny’s next book, Works, comes out from CavanKerry in 2018, and he is the poet-in-residence of the Hoboken Museum.

Saturday, June 10, I’ll be moderating a panel for the first ever Maplewood South Orange Book Festival. Poets Theresa Burns, Michael Lally, Danny Shot, BJ Ward and I will be sharing work that focuses on justice, resistance, and/or ways to bolster spirits and protect the disenfranchised in uncertain times. Post-election, poetry has emerged as a way to channel the uncertainty that comes with regime change. The panel is at 10 a.m. in the Burgdorff Center, 10 Durand Rd, Maplewood, NJ 07040.

Sunday, June 11 I’ll be reading at the Books NJ 2017 festival, at the Paramus Public Library. Check out the schedule of other terrific writers here.

Looking further ahead, I’ll be reading on Friday, July 7 at my home-away-from-home bookstore (am ever loyal to Words in Maplewood) That’s in Seattle, Elliott Bay Books at 7 pm.

On Tuesday, October 24 at 7 p.m. I’ll be reading at the Highland Park Library Poetry Night Series.

I’m very open to other opportunities to read, please let me know! Hope to see you at one of these upcoming events!

Abloom & Awry Has Arrived!

I am so excited to hold in my hand this elegantly produced book, carefully crafted by CavanKerry Press! The release sale has just been announced, 30% off! Here’s the link!

Please come out Sunday, March 26, to the Bernardsville Library in Bernardsville, NJ, for Tea and Conversation, where I’ll be interviewed by Julie Maloney about poetry and journalism. All my books will be there! Hope to see you!

A National Monument Crosses Over

RESIST. I see it on bumper stickers, and feel it whenever I read the news, particularly when I see attempts to sidestep, attack, or weaken the press. I contribute to resistance as a knitter, having completed 33 pussy hats, an organizer, and now, as a poet. I was heartsick when I read this article about immigrants risking their lives to leave my beloved country, which had previously been proud to welcome them, in theory if not always in practice. So I wrote this poem, which I’m indebted to Poets Reading the News for publishing.

“Fuhgeddaboutit,” mother of exiles
muttered, rolling thirty-inch eyes.
Dropped her torch, hiked her skirts,
stepped over to Jersey. With her stride,
three hours to Niagara Falls, Canadian side.

Seidu Mohammed had a rougher trip. In a ten-hour
slog north from North Dakota, in snow waist-high,
frostbite took his fingers off. He feared deportation
from Minnesota to Ghana, where, because he loves
both men and women, they’d kill him. Thin gloves.

“God blessed Canada with good people,” he said,
refugee from the land of the free, land I once loved.

Since when are we the people others must escape?
So it’s no wonder “Liberty Enlightening the World” —
her full name — could no longer bear the inscription
asking for homeless and poor masses. She turned
her francophone sneer and her back to hypocrisy,
headed up Belleville Avenue, past Parsippany,

over the Poconos, across the Southern Tier,
into the embrace of the wise Justin Trudeau,
who tweets love, and “diversity is our strength,”
hashtag WelcomeToCanada, we have more Sikhs
in our cabinet than India does. We don’t do sweeps.

An empty granite pedestal in Upper New York Bay.
Since when are we the people others must escape?

Abloom & Awry on the Launchpad

As I head down to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference, where poet-extroverts get to bask in their elements, I am excited to share news of Abloom & Awry, my third poetry collection, which will appear in early April.

Here’s what the one-pager says about it:

With the eye of a journalist and the heart of a caretaker, Kelley shares her love of words, fireworks, kites, sea salt caramels, metaphor, and humans. Armed with a generative impulse, her poems pay close attention to the dark, moving through it with wit and affirmation….Journalistic sparseness and accuracy are framed with childhood’s wit and curiosity to roll around in decay, music, and love.

You can order advanced copies here!

I already have two readings planned, and am looking for more. There’s this one on March 26 at the Bernardsville Public Library, where I will be interviewed by Julie Maloney of Women Reading Aloud, and on home turf, at Words Bookstore in Maplewood on April 22. Hope you can make it!

CavanKerry Press, which is publishing Abloom & Awry, has been nominated for a Small Press Publisher Award, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they win!

A New Poem in Alaska Quarterly Review

I’m grateful to the refreshing and engaging Alaska Quarterly Review for publishing one of my poems in their current issue:


There are angels for separating the soul from the body at death,
angels who invented carousels and all the new French fashions.
There’s one just for the 26th of each month, for honey, sexuality.
Aban is your guardian ten months before death, another protects

fifth children. In heaven’s meadows upon meadows, one angel
governs confusion, one does nothing at all til the second coming,
one rules warm winds. The keeper of fiery triplicities seduces
the regent of Wednesdays, and they’re all new every morning,

born through every Godbreath, created by each fresh human sin.
They knit cotton breasts for cancer survivors, telling corny jokes.
They feather insights to the bored, quietly advise on cars to buy.
One’s pregnant with death, one protects finches, but none felt like

mine, until I spotted a green sea turtle, blunt and kindly, slowly
lifting its arms in hosannas to the quicksilver surface shining down.

Introducing Abloom & Awry!

I’m very excited to announce that my third collection of poetry, Abloom & Awry, will be published next spring by CavanKerry Press, one that I have aimed for over the years, a Jersey press that makes some of the most handsome poetry books out there. I am pleased to be joining the company of Joan Cusack Handler, Teresa Carson, Baron Wormser, Nin Andrews, Ross Gay, Mary Ruefle, and John Haines, among others.

The title poem of the collection won The New Jersey Poets Prize two years ago, and some of the others have appeared or are appearing soon in Belletrist, Beloit Poetry Journal, Crab Creek Review, Cream City Review, Connecticut Review, the Journal of NJ Poets, Poetry East, NYtimes.com, Stillwater Review, The Southwest Review, and US 1 Worksheets, among other journals. They’ve also appeared in anthologies like The Crafty Poet, Fire on her Tongue, and Intimacy by Jacar Press.

I am looking forward to proofreading and doing readings and carting boxes of books around. I’m also looking forward to making way for the new by getting rid of the old – if you haven’t read my two earlier books, The Gospel of Galore and Precise, please consider buying them now! I’m offering free shipping if you buy both, for $35. Or a 15 percent off sale, for either. Click here to buy Precise, and you can order either through that link. Thanks!