poetry, prose & story
Kelly Gray’s manuscript, The Mating Calls of a Specter, is the recipient of the Tusculum Review Chapbook Prize and will be published this November. Judged by poet Justin Phillip Reed, he said this of her work:
“Several repairs appear to be in motion in these poems, one of which is, I think, traversing the cage of domestication separating ruthless, sensual wild(er)ness from our social creatures’ rationales that yet enable visiting calamities of sense upon one another. And it’s really the sensual that gets me—some restoration of faith in the body-poem union comes terrifically alive here, not the least due to the presence of damp animals, sharp instruments, bare stomachs, wafts of beer breath, truck exhaust, ‘thin femurs// jagged alps of possum teeth.’ An anxious Frankenwork. I frequently delight in feeling frightened; is that alright? I’m made to ask. Is delight an appropriate response to these images? Should one feel ‘appropriate’ when reading poetry? In a contemporary fog of content over-saturation, I can’t not advocate for cultivating this sort of self-checking trouble as a beacon of worthwhile writing.”
Gray is the author of Instructions for an Animal Body (MoonTide Press, 2021), Tiger Paw, Tiger Paw, Knife, Knife (Quarter Press, 2022), MUD~ Fieldnotes from a Juvenile Psychiatric Institution (BottleCap Press, 2022). Her chapbook Quag Daughter is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in 2023. Gray's audio chapbook My Fingers are Whales and Other Stories of Cetology was created in collaboration with sound magician Meredith Johnson and is available to listen to here.
Gray is the recipient of the Neutrino Prize for her story "A Note on Sex and Death on the Beach" from Passages North and she was runner up for the Witness Literary Prize in Poetry from Witness Magazine. In 2022, she was granted the Creative Sonoma Cohort Prize in partnership with Pepperwood's Center for Conservation Science. Her writing has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in Lake Effect, Witness Magazine, Southern Humanities Review, Northwest Review, Passages North, Rust & Moth, Newfound, Permafrost, and Action, Spectacle, as well as numerous other journals & anthologies. In the summer of 2023, she was a participant in the Kenyon Review Workshop for Poetry.
"Instructions for an Animal Body is a collection of poems full of intuitive wisdom; somehow ancient and timely at once. They remind us that time has extinguished neither violence nor kindheartedness. They track the small acts of brutality that lead to endless hatred, war, rape, and captivity, while murmuring a more compassionate approach—one that requires listening to softer voices. Gray shows us a restorative pathway for healing from violence, a consciousness-laden vision of reparation and reconstruction that requires a new language. In these poems, she delivers a story in which healing the child heals the mother; healing the mother heals the lover; healing the lover heals the trespasser; healing the trespasser heals the violator. There is hope in this new language that does not rely on capitulation to wrongdoing. Healing the violator might even heal the earth."
~Risa Denenberg, Co-founder of Headmistress Press, for CUlTURAL DAILY
Read the full review at Cultural Daily