The Latest & Greatest in August

The text "The Latest & Greatest in August - 2023 Kelsay Books Blog" floats over an image of an umbrella on a rainy day, with a layering effect to give the viewer the impression of looking at it through a wet window.



 Shootin’ Pool

a New Orleans sestina for Kendall Williams

Two twenty-two. Afternoon deadlock at White
and Washington. Sirens scrape Thirteenth’s daylight.
Death goads life, Call it. Chalk it up to violent
no-excuse-for-it sidewalk crime near the Broad Street
strip mall. Divine Hands Hair Salon, Video City,
and Kajun Crab can’t keep young men racked-up, safe.

Unidentified somebody’s son pops the glock’s safety,
shoots stripes and solids, and slips cops’ black-and-whites.
Victim, twenty-to-one clean shot at life in the chocolate city,
on the ball, survived the flood, his family’s plight,
and federal so-called assistance. In the kitchen, off the street,
he catches a break along the rail, but violence

runs the ball, breaks the triangle, violates
the felt. Ghost-ball jumps the table, angles safely
to a corner pocket of narrow streets,
glances the sidewalk, and rolls past white
do-gooders mapping post-Katrina blight,
abandoned homes, and parish cities.
Department duplicity
breaks the po’boy, beignet, voodoo spell and violence
pockets the change. Red-blue guardian angel lights
pursue the perp, but scratch the table. No fail-safe
after two—now three—murders near White
and Washington’s indifferent. Up to Eden Street,
down Eve, traffic slows for detour arrows, street
signs. Shotgun-shack and crawfish city
curious—black and brown, rainbow and white—
rue their brother’s chalk outline, own neighborhoods violated.
There ain’t no such thing as gun safety,
baby girl. Damn. Curse the devils’ sleight
of hand, red sedans cruising through stoplights
on Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Sixteenth ward backstreets,
halfway to homicide. Every quarter declares safety
before the next shots carom against a city
crescent inured to violence
and pools cash for a second-line parade, off-white

marble, and white fleur-de-lis. Safe home, interred?
Violence deterred? Steady light rain on city streets.

Andrea (Andi) Penner is living her “writer-in-residence” dream—residing and writing in New Mexico. Her poetry has appeared in The Rag, Duke City Fix, Conceptions Southwest, Illumina, Epiphany, Northern Arizona Review, Perspectives, Small Canyons 8 Anthology, Poetry in Place: Autumn Writing from the Bosque, Shadow of the Snake, and several Fixed and Free anthologies. She is an indie author with two published collections of poetry, When East Was North and Rabbit Sun, Lotus Moon. She also publishes creative non-fiction on her Substack site, In Our Own Ink, and is currently working on a memoir.
About the poem: When Andi visited her twenty-five-year-old son at his office in post-Katrina New Orleans, they heard the gunshots at Washington and White, just blocks away. The victim, Kendall Williams, just a few years younger than her son, died that day. 


When we started this blog 8 months ago, we needed a place to share updates, like: Kelsay Books now offers hardcover and e-book copies in addition to our classic paperbacks! Or the time, date, and registration link for our next reading. Word got around; soon, we had authors writing in to share their own news. In a matter of months, Kelsay Books' Blog became bigger than us, the small but dedicated team of content creators behind it.

As this was my first homemade-from-scratch blog project, I had great ambitions and low expectations getting started. Today, I couldn't be more delighted by how far KBB has come. I'm grateful for how much I've learned in the process about promoting the beautiful books this independent poetry press creates. Now is the time to grow our audience so the poets, reviewers, and editors featured on this page can connect with the wider literary community, getting these books into the hands of the readers they were made for!

Dear reader, that's where you come in. I invite you to take a moment to read "Shootin' Pool" by Andi Penner and respond in the comments section! You can even copy the link and share it with your friends. As always, we are open to submissions from poets everywhere. Before Andi submitted her poem, she recently gave me some advice: a needed reminder that “you have plenty of time to figure it out.” I'm passing that along in case you need to hear it, too. Without further ado...

The Orchards Emerges Bolder Than Ever

Kelsay Books' poetry journal The Orchards has emerged fresh from its metamorphosis, and this summer's issue is a landmark

We are thrilled to announce The Orchards poetry magazine: Summer 2023 went live on Tuesday, July 11!

Due to the record number of outstanding submissions we received, this issue is our thickest yet. Its 189 pages contain pieces by over one hundred talented poets. Familiar voices include Bill Howell, Daniel Lusk, and Mary Beth Hines. We are also honored to amplify many new and emerging voices in this landmark issue.

Print copies can be purchased for $17.00 on the Kelsay Books website.

Rebecca Brock, winner of the 2022 Women’s Poetry Contest, is our featured poet. Her winning poem “Raising Glaciers” appears in print for the first time, alongside four additional Rebecca Brock poems. These follow her interview with The Orchards, in which we discuss her experiences juggling motherhood and writing, submitting her work to contests, putting together a collection, and being a flight attendant in the air during the 9/11 attack.

Other award-winning poems are published in this issue. Including:

Nikki Ummel’s “Walking My Neice Home” (2022 Women’s Poetry Contest, Second Place)

Kristen Holt-Browning’s “Window Seat” (2022 Women’s Poetry Contest, Honorable Mention)

Lori Howe’s “A New Law of Liquids in Flight” (2022 Women’s Poetry Contest, Honorable Mention)

Megan Wildhood’s “Evaporation” (Summer 2023 Grantchester Award, First Place)

Ruth Towne’s “So the Sadness Could Not Hurt” (Summer 2023 Grantchester Award, Second Place)

Samuel Samba’s “Hardened in no small way” (Summer 2023 Pushcart Nominee)

Elinor Ann Walker’s “Highway 64, Tennessee” (Summer 2023 Pushcart Nominee)

Grace Martin’s “Tracking the Source, Losing the Trail” (Summer 2023 Pushcart Nominee)

We hope you all enjoy The Orchards: Summer 2023 as much as we do! Many thanks to our contributors and Kelsay Books team, including Editor Jenna V. Wray, for bringing this issue to life.

Print copies can be purchased for $17.00 on the Kelsay Books website.

High Plains Book Awards Accepting 2024 Regional Nominees

Shoutout to Sherry O'Keefe in Billings, MT for letting us know the High Plains Book Awards is accepting nominations!

Click on image for Nominations Criteria information

If you are an author who published a book in 2023 in the American states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas, or the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskachewan, submit your book for consideration in the following categories: 

Art & Photography Award 

Children’s Picture Book Award

Children’s Middle Grade Book Award 

Fiction Award 

First Book Award

Indigenous Writer Award  

Nonfiction Award  

Memoir/Creative Nonfiction Award

Poetry Award

Short Stories Award

Woman Writer Award

Young Adult Award 

Big Sky Award 

“Winners for all Book Awards will be announced at an Awards event held in October in Billings, Montana. Each Book Award winner will receive a $500 award and commemorative plaque. The High Plains Book Award Board (the Board) reserves the right to determine there is no winning entry in a given category.”


  • I’m excited to share my recent interview on Rattlecast which features my talking about and reading from my newest book with Kelsay, " Keeping Time: Haibun for the Journey", along with mention of and reading a few poems from my two other recent Kelsay books, A Prayer the Body Makes (2020), and Still-Water Days (2021). You can find the link in the Rattlecast archives. Look for:

    Penny Harter |Rattlecast 211 – YouTube

    Penny Harter
  • Coming in with this Blue Moon, at the very end of August, I have had some wonderful poetry happenings. First, received contributor copy of The Wonder of Small Things Poems of Peace and Renewal, edited by James Crews, and get to see my poem amongst so many amazing poet’s work! The next day, I received the mock up of Every Small Breeze, forthcoming with Kelsay Books, and got to see front and back cover and layout. So pleased!! Grateful. Looking forward.

    Marjorie Moorhead
  • Things are looking great on your blog! As a poet who has a book coming out from Kelsay this fall, I’m paying close attention. Cheers!

    Kathleen Cassen Mickelson
  • Had a fun reading of my new book, “I Come from Immigrants” at the Art Alliance in Lemont with Marjorie Maddox, Steven Deutsch, and Mary Rohrer-Dann. Have others readings coming up this fall. Had new poems in Lothlorien and Verse-Virtual.

    Margaret Duda

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