Thick With Conviction - A Poetry Journal
thick with conviction a poetry journal
 10 Questions with...Karen Kelsay


Hi, it's Arielle and we're back with 10 Questions with...! We're very pleased to have Karen Kelsay answering our questions this month. Karen is a three time Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of five chapbooks. We hope you enjoy reading Karen's perspectives on the poetry scene.


1. What or who gives you inspiration and perspiration?

When I find a new poet I like, I try to read as much of their work as I can. That usually inspires me to write something of my own. Lately I have been reading more formal poetry than free verse, but I enjoy both.

I get a little stressed waiting on submissions to magazines I've never been published in before. Each year I make a list of about 4 journals where I would really like to see my poetry appear—when I'm waiting for those replies I can get quite antsy.

2. Have you always wanted to write, or did you have a secret desire for something else, like spelunking?

I never entertained writing poetry until a few years ago. I'm one of those people who likes to start projects and then never completes anything. My cupboards are filled with needlepoint canvases, kids dresses, embroidery, all of it unfinished. It was a total surprise to everyone (myself included), that I have had five years of intense interest in poetry.

3. Do awards and accolades make you swoon? Have there been any that you're particularly swoon-y about that you've gotten?

Almost any type of poetry award makes me happy, and I hope those little writing perks will continue to swoonify me for a long time to come. I've received three Pushcart nominations in the past two years. Each one has motivated me, and encouraged me to try and improve.

4. When you're not leaving your poetic footprint, what else in the world makes you warm and fuzzy?

I have two cats—unfortunately they hate each other. It takes a lot of door shutting and opening all day long, so they won't freak out in the hallways. But they make me feel warm and fuzzy.

I also love the beach. My family had a boat when I was young, and most of my weekends were spent fishing and rowing around in my little dinghy—trying to gaff starfish from dock pilings. Luckily, I only live a few miles from the ocean and my husband and I attempt go there regularly.

5. Give me names. Who are the best new poets, in your opinion?

Poetry that prompts me to write is a valuable resource to me. Because I switch back and forth from free verse to form, I have a mixed group of poets that I admire. I come across a lot of talent because I edit a poetry magazine—Lately I have been reading these poets: Annabelle Moseley, Peter Austin and Wendy Sloan, Jennifer Reeser and Michael Burch.

6. Best of the Net or Pushcart? Which matters more and why?

I've never received a Best of the Net award, I'm sure I would love that. If I had to choose, it would probably be a Pushcart. I haven't decided which is best, they both are fine by me.

7. Then and now. What poem made you start writing and what poem do you absolutely love right this very moment?

One of the first poems I fell in love with was written by the Irish poet, Katharine Hinkson, Sheep and Lambs. It's very simply written, and it taught me that poems don't have to be complex to reach people. Clever words don't necessarily make an emotional impact.

In spending time with my 85 year-old mother the other day, I realized that as a young adult she had memorized many poems, including “The Raven.” Although she never recited them in public, I was her captive audience in car. I think it must have made an impression on me. I didn't realize until years later, that I enjoyed the poetry as well.

I just finished reading Kevin Heaton's new chapbook, which due out next year.
I thought it was a wonderful collection of poems—I guess he is my favorite writer at the moment.

8. Are online poetry 'zines a crushing blow to traditional print 'zines, or are they the meat and potatoes of the poetry world now? Also, which do you prefer?

Personally, I like both...but I guess I lean toward print magazines. It's nice to sit down and read a book or journal, let it sit on the table each night and reopen it at one's leisure. Browsing the internet gives me more access to new work, and if I like it I can always order the book.

9. Where do you see yourself and your poems in five years?

I see myself as a more established writer of formal poetry, someone with a consistent and recognizable style. I also want to crank out some decent free verse whenever the mood strikes me. This month I had two books published, one by Punkin House and the other by Fortunate Childe Publications. I hope to build on that and keep the momentum going so I can have collections published every few years.

10. What are the ingredients for a tasty poem?

A delicious poem includes all the senses, twists the gut a little and leaves the reader with a pleasant aftertaste.






Current Issue: December 2011



10 Questions with...

10 Questions with... Archive

Archived Issues

Submission Guidelines

About The Editors

Places of Interest