photo credit: Adrian Lime

A lifelong Ohioan, Kerry participates in events such as Artomatic 419 and Back to Jack, and the Columbus Arts Festival. She is a poetry editor for the online journal Red Fez, and her poetry and short fiction have appeared in various anthologies and journals such as in Midwestern GothicAlimentum, Slippery Elm, Third Wednesday, and The Coe Review. Kerry's chapbook To Have Hoped was published by Finishing Line Press in 2015. Her chapbook Artifacts, is forthcoming from NightBallet Press in 2017.


*Could you tell us about yourself as a poet? How long have you been writing poetry? How does it fit into the rest of your life?

I started writing poetry in third grade when an OAC grant program brought a visiting poet (I think her it was Devon McNamara) to our school. I continued writing poetry and fiction, taking college workshops in both. In college I befriended other poet classmates, and we gathered to write together, critique each other’s work, and attend open mics. It was in college that I first started sending things out for publication. I make time to write as often as I can—daily for some stretches of time, and only once a week or so during times when work and family life are particularly busy. I also read as much contemporary poetry as possible, attend and/or host poetry events, readings, and conferences as often as I can, and I continue to submit pieces for publication/contests. I’m a poetry editor for the online journal Red Fez, a member of the Ohio Poetry Association, and I help maintain the website ToledoPoet.com and the Toledo Poetry Museum page on Facebook—both resources for connecting NW Ohio poets and promoting events.

*How many of the three years have you used the CCPL prompts?
all 3

*Do you know anyone else who has been writing to them?
I’m not sure, but I’ll bet Marianna Hofer has used some.

*Are there any of the prompts that seem to work better for you? that don't work?
The numerical prompts—specifying numbers of characters per line, or syllabic patterns—all give me hives.  Formal poems feel too much like homework. And MATH homework even.  Ugh.

I seem to enjoy prompts addressing certain people, or having to mention certain places or things. There’s more freedom there, but still a nudge in a specific direction that’s a good kick in the pants.

*Have you presented any of the poems in workshops or readings? Have any been published in print? (If so, can you provide titles and/or which prompts you were writing to?) Have you gotten any response to those particular poems?

I’ve read several poems based on the prompts for sure, and I do try to mention so at the time—to give a shout out to the blog. Though I don’t always remember exactly what the prompt was.

My poem “Bridges” was published in Red Fez. It began from one of this year’s prompts about doing a Google-image search for the word “bridge.”  A 2015 prompt to write about a spice yielded my poem, “Cardamom,” which appeared in the spring 2016 issue of The Fourth River

Bridges   (appeared in Red Fez issue #89, 2016)

My brother moved to San Francisco with a working fear of bridges.

I’m not afraid to burn bridges that make kindling of themselves.

San Francisco has 23 miles of bridges.

Sometimes the things we’re afraid of hang themselves
from steel cables.

I’ve never burnt a bridge I regretted burning.

Five died building Toledo’s Glass City Skyway bridge,
and other killed himself with it.

My friend Donora wrote a book of poems called Jeff Bridges,
each poem is titled Jeff Bridges.

We tourists gathered on the Tower Bridge in London,
all singing the song inside, imagining ways of falling down.

Only 26 people survived jumps from
The Golden Gate Bridge, 1,700 instead succeeded.

Sometimes people cross from one side to another,
sometimes people cross one another.

My friend Michelle moved to Florida with a working fear of bridges

Grandpa still made caramel-corn after his bridge,
but he never ate it, but he watched us eat it.

Florida has over 9,000 bridges.

My dad followed the bridge game printed in the Sunday paper,
crossing-out things, I don’t understand why.

258 Floridians have leapt from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Bridges can double themselves above still water.

People can lose themselves into still water.

Sometimes we watch people cross things out
without understanding why.


Cardamom  (appeared in The Fourth River, 2016)

Tell me—
does it taste like the glow of marigolds
strung along a white wedding tent?

Does it taste like a heel of pulla bread
slipped in my great grandmother’s wool
coat pocket as she boarded a ship
in Helsinki, bound eventually for
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

Does it taste green?
Or like white blossoms
streaked fuchsia, or like
rhizomes sprung ground-level from
upright sprays of leaves?

Does it taste both warm and cooling,
like a balm for tubercular lungs?
Does it illicit a promise of calm?


As we head into the very end of NaNoWriMo for Poets, we look to a whole last month of poetry events. This Friday Dec. 2nd is the re-opening of the Cleveland State Poetry Center Room, followed by a reading, and on the same day, same time, 4:00 p.m. is the reading and book launch at Judson Park of A 24 Hour Cotillion by Leonard Trawick.


Here are three from 2015 to round out your year/month/week or NaNoWriMo

Nov, 28 - List as many things you can think of that no longer exist in your world that once did (manual typewriter, push lawnmower, correction tape, landline, Betsy Wetsy, particular TV shows, characters, windup alarm clock….) Write a poem about them, titled “Ubi Sunt”

Nov. 29 - Write  your own prompt for a poem. Now write that poem.

Nov. 30- Choose one of the poems you have drafted this month and revise it one of these ways: break it into stanzas, or make it all one stanza; cut every other line; or add a line between each line.

Thanks to all the poets who responded to this retro on prompts! See you next November!

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