Karla Anne Kelsey, Ph.D.

Department: English & Creative Writing

Professor of English & Creative Writing

  • Education
  • MFA, Univ of Iowa
  • BA, Univ of California Los Angeles
  • PHD, Univ of Denver

Karla Kelsey is the author of four full-length collections of poetry, most recently Blood Feather (Tupelo Press, 2020) and a collection of speculative essays, Of Sphere (Essay Press, 2017). Poems and prose have appeared in journals such as Bomb, Fence, Conjunctions, New American Writing, The Boston Review, The Colorado Review, The Denver Quarterly, 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. With Aaron McCollough she currently co-publishes SplitLevel Texts, a press specializing in book-length hybrid genre projects. A recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award, she is Professor of Creative Writing at Susquehanna University's Writers Institute. More information can be found on her website.

Karla Kelsey on teaching at SU: “I have been teaching in the creative writing program at Susquehanna since 2005. One of the main reasons it is so special to me has to do with the fact that I grew up a serious dancer and just adored being in the ballet studio. While writers have a more isolated artistic practice than dancers, being at SU is close to that studio experience. I love being a practicing writer among other writers, colleagues and students alike. If you want to have your creative spirit nurtured, creative writing at Susquehanna is for you!”


Blood Feather

Tupelo Press, forthcoming
An actress. A thinker. A filmmaker. Built of archives and the imagination, the three fictive women narrating Blood Feather articulate a feminist philosophy of art-making and life-making for our fractured world. Kelsey engages the given by calling on female artists of the past—Lilian Gish, Maya Deren, Maria Tallchief, and the architect Eileen Gray, among others—to join this drama of character and form. Here, structures of the past and ambitions for our future shape Blood Feather’s personae as they confirm and resist, collude with and attempt to reinvent, the cultural and personal histories that surround them.

Of Sphere   

Essay Press, 2017
Selected by Carla Harryman for the Essay Press Prize

“Through her challenge to dug-in patriarchal logics, Kelsey choreographs a contemporary vision that follows in the experimental tradition of earlier modern feminist essays, including Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas, H.D.'s Tribute to Freud, and Hélène Cixous' ‘The Laugh of the Medusa.’ Kelsey brings an urgency to this tradition through her attention to the destructive human
impact on the earth, ecological crisis, and her vision of another way to inhabit the world.”

—Carla Harryman

A Conjoined Book

Omnidawn Press, 2014

“In answer to impossible questions I borrow the story of bones burned.” In this astonishing and carefully structured “double book” Karla Kelsey interweaves an extensive mediation on The Juniper Tree with a lyric exploration of trauma, violence, and memory. There is no way to have one without the other: cultural artifact, individual story—Kelsey shows us how these realms are not divisible…I’ve never read anything like it and it’s changed me.

—Julie Carr

Iteration Nets  

Ahsahta Press, 2010

“In this uncompromisingly inventive triptych, Kelsey shows us how she ‘threw away abstraction’ in order to meditate on what inhabits relation. From sonnet cycle, to prose sonnet, to archipelagoed pages, every poem discretely recalibrates the way replicating lines constitute experience, its gestures, its enunciative cloakings, its denser renderings."

—Jean-Jacques Poucel

Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary  

Ahsahta Press, 2006
Selected by Carolyn Forché for the Sawtooth Poetry Prize

“Kelsey writes what it is to know, of ‘what we become/ when the universe is seen in lights of its generation.’ We are, in this work, in the midst of things, and as Plato's Socrates has it, ‘the eye becomes filled with vision and now sees, and becomes, not vision but a seeing eye.’”

—Carolyn Forché


Ph.D.  Literature and Creative Writing. University of Denver. Denver, CO. May 2005.

M.F.A.  Poetry. Iowa Writers Workshop. Iowa City, IA. May 2001.

B.A.  Literature and Philosophy. UCLA. Los Angeles, CA. December 1999.    


Full-Time Positions

Susquehanna University, Department of English and Creative Writing

2018 to Present       Professor

2011 to 2018           Associate Professor

2006 to 2011           Assistant Professor

2005-2006              Visiting Assistant Professor


Fall 2012                 Visiting Assistant Professor, Eötvös Collegium, Budapest  Department of American Studies

Spring 2011            Fulbright Visiting Assistant  Eötvös Loránd University, Professor  Budapest Department of American Studies    


Poetry / Poetics / Women’s Experimental Writing / Ecopoetics / Image-Text Writing / Lyric Prose / Hybrid Writing / Critical Theory / Small Press Publishing


Blood Feather. North Adams, MA: Tupelo Press. Forthcoming Fall 2020.

A Conjoined Book. Richmond, CA: Omnidawn Press, 2014.

Iteration Nets. Boise, ID: Ahsahta Press, 2010.

Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary. Boise, ID: Ahsahta Press, 2006.

          Selected by Carolyn Forché for the 2005 Sawtooth Prize.


Of Sphere. Laramie, WY. Essay Press. Forthcoming November 2017.

          Selected by Carla Harryman for the 2016 Essay Press Prize.


Into the Eyes of Lost Storms. Fayetteville, AR: Narwhal Press, 2009.

Three Movements. Northampton, MA: Pilot Press, 2009.

Little Dividing Doors in the Mind. Santa Fe, NM: Noemi Press, 2005.


Poetry in Anthologies

“from winter dark with shades of blue.” February: an anthology. Ed. Paul Legault. St. Louis, MO: Washington University Department of Creative Writing, 2015: 6 pages.

“from A Conjoined Book.” The Arcadia Project. Ed. Joshua Corey and G.C. Waldrep. Boise ID: Boise State University Ahsahta Press, 2012: 114-120.

 “Sonnet 114” The Sonnets: Rewriting Shakespeare. Ed. Paul Legault and Sharmila Cohen, Callicoon NY: Nightboat Books, 2012: 45.


Hybrid Genre Work in Journals

“An Otherwise of Consciousness.” Jacket 2. April 2018:


“from The Budapest Notebooks. Tupelo Quarterly. Issue 10. October, 2016:


 “Of Sphere.” Verse. Vol. 31, 2015: 163-193.

“—echoache.” Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics. Issue 47. November, 2014: http://www.thevolta.org/ewc47-kkelsey-p1.html.

 “Interval.” Web Conjunctions. 09.03.2013, 2013: http://conjunctions.com/webcon/kelsey13.htm

“A Practice in Beveled Light.” English Language Notes. Department of English, University of Colorado at Boulder. 50.01 Spring/Summer, 2012: 29-32.


Prose: Chapters in Books

“Barbara Guest’s Seeking Air. The Poet’s Novel. Ed. Laynie Browne. Nightboat Books, Forthcoming 2020.

“To Gesture at Absence: A Reading-With.” Anne Carson: Ecstatic Lyre. Ed. Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2015: 88-93.

 “Articulations of Artifice in the Work of Mary Jo Bang.” Eleven More America

Woman Poets in the 21st Century. Ed. Claudia Rankine and Lisa Sewell

Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2012: 34-56.

 “Lineation in the Land of the New Sentence.” A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2010.

 “Teaching Writing through the Sonnet Tradition.” Poets on Teaching  ed. Joshua Marie Wilkinson. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2010.

Recent Criticism, Essays, and Reviews

“Fantastic Women.” Bomb. May, 2020


“Madeline Gins.” Hyperallergic. May, 2020


“Lyn Hejinian’s Life on Mars.” Hyperallergic. August, 2019


“Frederike Mayröcker’s Scardanelli.” Hyperallergic. December, 2018


“Rewriting Trauma.” Review of Catherine Taylor. Los Angeles Review of Books

Blog. April 2018. https://blog.lareviewofbooks.org/reviews/rewriting-trauma


“Missing Contexts: The Pioneering Work of Anne Halprin, Simone Forti, and

Yvonne Rainer.” Bomb Magazine. September 2017:




2019             Beinecke Library, Yale: H.D. Fellowship in English and American Literature

2019             Susquehanna University: John C. Horn Award for Scholarship and Service

2017             Susquehanna University: University Research Grant (Course Release)

2016             Essay Press Prize (Carla Harryman, Judge)

2014-2015     Susquehanna University: Faculty Research Grant (Course Release)

2013-2014     Susquehanna University Mini Grant (Travel to Bucharest, Romania for research)

Spring 2012  Susquehanna University Faculty Research Grant (Course Release)

Fall 2011       Susquehanna University Mini Grant (Travel to Budapest, Hungary for research)

Spring 2011  Fulbright Lectureship. ELTE University. Budapest, Hungary

Spring 2010  Poetry Society of America Cecil Hemley Award for a poem on a philosophical theme (Forrest Gander, Judge)


Reviews: A Conjoined Book

Shaw, Kent. A Conjoined Book by Karla Kelsey.” The Rumpus. April 9, 201  


Landry, Benjamin. “A Conjoined Book.” The Colorado Review. May 14, 2014.


Savich, Zach. “A Conjoined Book.” Black Ocean Micro Review Monday. August 4, 2014.


 “A Conjoined Book: Aftermath//Become Tree, Become Bird.” Publisher’s Weekly. April 2014.


Kyle, Catherine. “A Conjoined Book.” Verse Magazine. Monday September 22, 2014.


Reviews: Iteration Nets

Colorado Review. Damiani, Jesse. “Iteration Nets.” Vol. 39, No. 2.

Poetry Northwest. Savich, Zach. “Forms that Change.” 


Reviews: Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary

Cutbank. Svalina, Mathias. “Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary.” November 4, 2006.


Bookslut. Cronk, Olivia. “Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary.” June 2006.



Selected Poetry Readings 2014-Present

Bucknell University. Lewisburg, PA, October 2019.

University of Eastern Michigan. Yipsilanti, MI, February 2018.

University of Denver, Denver, CO, November 2017.

McNally Jackson Books. New York, NY, October 2017.

Poet’s House. New York, NY, October 2015.

Unnameable Books. Brooklyn, NY, July 2015.

Iowa Writers Workshop. Iowa City, IA, February 2015.

Fort Gondo Arts Collective. St Louis, MO, November 2014.

Shippensburg University. Shippensburg, PA, November, 2014.

Poet’s House. New York, NY, October 2014.

Belladonna Collective. Brooklyn, NY, October 2014.

Fall for the Book Festival. George Mason University, Fairfax VA, September 2014.

Conference Presentations (Poetics/Criticism)

“The Radical Bodies of Bernadette Mayer's Desires and Gail Scott's My Paris: A Tissuing.” Communal Presence: New Narrative Writing Today. Berkley, CA, October 2017.

“On Claudia Rankine’s Citizen.” Plymouth University Poetry and Philosophy Conference. Plymouth, England, May 2016.

“On Editing Denver Quarterly.” Associated Writing Programs Conference. St Paul, Minneapolis, April 2015.

“Ethics and Poetics: an Ecological Mode.” Associated Writing Programs Conference. Seattle, WA, March 2014.


2011-                       Editor/Publisher/Founder

Present                             Split Level Texts


I co-founded SplitLevel Texts in 2011 with Aaron McCollough. We publish two full-length books each year in print editions. The books are experimental poetry and hybrid genre works that interrogate the aesthetic and ethical norms of American culture. Our list includes prestigious internationally renowned writers as well as mid-career writers. As editor and publisher I acquire manuscripts and work with authors on content editing and proofing. I also typeset all of the manuscripts and work to market and distribute the books via Small Press Distribution and independent bookstores.


Carla Harryman A Voice to Perform

Safaa Fathy (trans. with Pierre Joris) Revolution goes through walls

Bernadette Mayer The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters

                               (co-published with Nightboat Books)

                               Elizabeth Zuba DECOHERENT

                               Martin Corless-Smith this fatal looking glass

                               Laynie Browne PRACTICE

Lucy Ives The Worldkillers

Maged Zahir If reality doesn’t work out

Carla Harryman: W—/M—

Catherine Meng: The Longest Total Solar Eclipse of the Century

Jerome Rothenberg: A Cruel Nirvana

Alan Gilbert: The Treatment of Monuments


Winter 2010-           Editor

2017                       The Constant Critic


As editor of The Constant Critic I worked with a stable of five writers who develop reviews of between 1,200-1,800 words of recently-released books of contemporary poetry. Since spring of 2011 I have brought on board three new reviewers to increase diversity and point of view. My editing work entailed book selection, content development, proofing, and formatting for on-line viewing.

Courses taught:

  • ENGL-265 Forms of Writing: Poetry
  • ENGL-290 Aesthetics and Interpretation
  • OFFP-SAFRICA Travel Writing in South Africa
  • OFFS-SAFRICA Travel Writing in South Africa
  • WRIT-252 Introduction to Poetry
  • WRIT-352 Intermediate Narrative Poetry
  • WRIT-352 Intermediate Poetry
  • WRIT-352 Intermediate Poetry Prose Poem
  • WRIT-452 Advanced Poetry
  • WRIT-500 Independent Study
  • WRIT-520 Practicum
  • WRIT-540 Internship