An Introduction to Karla Kelsey by Kristina Marie Darling


Karla Kelsey is like no other writer working today.  In her gorgeously lyrical, gratifyingly dense hybrid texts, she uses what seem at first like small stylistic decisions to make startling and necessary philosophical claims.  In many ways, Kelsey’s work responds to a glaring disparity between style and content in much of philosophical writing.  Though academics working in philosophy and critical theory claim to privilege dialogue, exchange, and interdisciplinary inquiry, the forms of discourse often seem strict, plain, and fairly uniform in tone and style.  In response to this disconnect, and the inherent contradictions in how knowledge is disseminated, Kelsey offers a revolution in poetic language. Here, the nuances of poetic technique are brought to bear on questions of temporality, otherness, and the sociality of the self.

Karla Kelsey has published three books of poetry: A Conjoined Book (Omnidawn, 2014), Iteration Nets (Ahsahta, 2010), and Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary (Ahsahta, 2006) selected by Carolyn Forché for the Sawtooth Poetry Prize. Blood Feather, her fourth book of poetry is forthcoming from Tupelo Press and in 2020 Ahsahta Press will publish On Certainty.

Her book of experimental essays, Of Sphere, was selected by Carla Harryman for the 2016 Essay Press Prize and was published in 2017. Poems and creative prose have been published by such journals as Bomb, Fence, Conjunctions, New American Writing, The Boston Review, Verse, and Tupelo Quarterly. Her critical essays on poetry, poetics, and pedagogy have appeared in anthologies and literary journals.

From 2010-2017 she edited The Constant Critic, Fence Books’ online journal of poetry reviews. She currently co-publishes with Aaron McCollough SplitLevel Texts, a press specializing in hybrid genre projects and with Poupeh Missaghi she co-edits Matters of Feminist Practice, a new journal of feminist criticism housed with Belladonna* Collaborative. A recipient of a Fulbright Scholars grant, she has taught in Budapest, Hungary, and is Professor of Creative Writing at Susquehanna University’s Writers Institute. 


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