Dancing in December
Dark times. December.
Earth’s axis on the slant
and the minutes fall from the day
a few at a time.
So we outsleep the dark,
sleepwalking the grey hours.
Impossible to believe in light,
or a birth, until
this winter sunrise, fox
going home with blood in its mouth,
all the dawn’s chemicals in its eye,
and the sky astonished.
—Gillian Clarke, from A Recipe for Water (Carcanet)
It gets troubling to trot our two-step through time in so much darkness. What if we stumble? What of the downfall? The mind tends to these questions as the days get shorter. We can reach for distraction, but this loses its shine as shadows lengthen. True warmth glows in moments of gathering, sharing—these moments require us to show up. Be present. Set the table, even when making the bed is too much to expect.
The sky is astonished as the fox survives. I hesitated to start the last post of our blog’s first year on a depressing note, but for this powerful message delivered in “Advent” by Welsh poet Gillian Clarke. You have to go low to get high, as a writer, so she must have visited some deep dark warrens to unearth such strong sustenence for the shortest winter days. I knew as soon as I read it in a tweet from December 2015, on the hunt for an intro poem befitting of the vibe this December, that I wanted to start with this image of the fox at sunrise, mouth warm with blood.
Like Clarke’s fox, we’ve taken the winter on with determination. And the editorial team is ready to hibernate—but really, we’re cozying up for a reading period. We’re now accepting last submissions to The Orchards Winter 2023 ahead of publication, so send us your best. We look forward to delving into your submissions so far! Explore past issues of The Orchards here.
Kelsay Books has exciting projects in the works. Our blog exists—for a full year, now!—to bring you along for the ride. We strive, as poets, to astonish the sky. In dark December, especially, we’re with those doing their best to show up. As the sun rises on a new year, we’re thankful for steady poetry lovers and writers waltzing through to find solace in verse together.
May we have this dance?
L to R: Joanne Corey, Mary Beth Hines, and Jessica Dubey on the Mass MoCA campus, October 3, 2023 (photo credit: Wendy Stewart)Kelsay authors Joanne Corey (Hearts, 2023), Jessica Dubey (All Those Years Underwater, 2022), and Mary Beth Hines (Winter at a Summer House, 2021) recently completed a workshop-in-residence week with the Boiler House Poets Collective (BHPC) at The Studios at Mass MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams. The authors enjoyed writing time in their studios, daily workshopping, museum visits at Mass MoCA and the Clark Art Institute in neighboring Williamstown, a BHPC reading at the Bear & Bee Bookshop in North Adams, and hours of sharing meals and lively conversation.
They look forward to returning to MASS MoCA in October ’24 for BHPC’s next reunion residency. Thank you Joanne Corey for submitting your residency experience with Jessica Dubey and Mary Beth Hines. We can't wait to see what these three have in store!
KB poets, we’re alway open to sharing about your writerly endeavors.
Book awards, reviews, readings, author interviews, publication credits...key ingredients in the recipe for your next favorite read!
Vivia by Linda Neal Reising is a finalist for
in Narrative Poetry
Sonnets of Love and Joy by Paul Buchheit
is first place winner of the BookFest Awards Fall 2023
and a Finalist in the 2023 IAN Book of the Year Awards!
George Perreault won first place in the
first annual Charles Simic Poetry Prize
Reviews & Interviews
Read Carole Mertz’s review on Beakful, a lit blog by Walter Ruhlmann
Highland Park Poetry posted a review in September 2020 of the same title
Read Dennis Daly’s review in a blog on
the Boston area small press and poetry scene
The same review appears in The Somerville Times
Autumn Sky Poetry Daily posted a review of DeFreitas last collection,
Winter in Halifax
by Charles Rammelkamp for the Compulsive Reader
Quill and Parchment gave a “wowza” review of Today and
Other Seasons and interviewed poet Sarah Russell here
Amanda Koenigsberg interviewed Charlotte Innes for
Poetry.LA, the long-running videotape series on Southern California poets,
founded and run by Hilda Weiss and Wayne Lindberg here:
Featured: It’s time for our annual Kelsay Books December reading!
Register here to join 27 others in discovering talented voices from the nation’s premiere poetry press.
Plus, be sure to check out this review of guest reader Rodney Torreson’s book, The Ascension of Sandy’s Drive-In, in the Tipton Poetry Journal
Scroll up and down to spot more guest readers featured in Poetic Excellence....
Feel free to comment to get in touch with the organizers of the following events for more information!
Texas: Ute Carson launches In The Blink of an Eye, on Saturday, December 3rd from 3 to 5 p.m. local time. This evening of reading Carson's debut collection is hosted by the Elm Ridge Ranch in Austin, Texas.
Connecticut: D. Walsh Gilbert reads selections from [M]AR[Y] December 3rd at Poetry Rocks, Art Center East, Vernon, Connecticut.
Remote, TONIGHT: Kathleen Cassen Mickelson and Constance Brewer launch Prayer Gardening, Thursday, November 30, at 7 p.m. Central. Register to attend on Zoom here.
Hyde Park, Boston, MA:
Holly Guran, Sarah Kersey, and Mary O'Melveny read Kelsay Books selections on Thursday, December 14 from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern at the Menino Arts Center.
Bonus: Stay tuned for a merry January book launch and Zoom reading hosted by Marc Frazier, author of If It Comes to That, with a special guest!
Lynn Domina, author of Inland Sea, featured in FUMFA Poets & Writers Fall Livestream
Holly Guran, author of Now Before and Ever, featured on Richard Waring’s PoemWorks Reading Series
Portland Press Herald published “Deep Water” and other poems by Ken Craft
Autumn Sky Poetry featured “Degrees of Bare” by Charles Weld
Holly Neumann announced Rejection To Acceptance
by Patricia Williams in the Waupaca County News
Congratulations to December’s KBB featured poets. Wishing all a warm holiday season and happy new year! Thank you for choosing Kelsay Books as your poetry provider.