Kelsay Books

Karen Kelsay, Editor
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24600 Mountain Avenue 35
Hemet, California  92544

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karen kelsayWho is Karen Kelsay?

click on the links to read various interviews:

A Long Story Short  interviewed by Russell Bittner

The Nervous Breakdown self interview

Katie Hoerth's Blog interviewed by Katie Hoerth

A Motely Vision interviewed by Tyler Chadwick

Thick With Conviction interviewed by A. Lancaster
Coming Soon...

"It was a genuine pleasure to work with Karen Kelsay and her White Violet Press on my book Steel Masks. Her meticulous attention to detail, her quick response to inquiries, and her overall professionalism combined with a sure sense of design produced a book that I was proud to call my own. Kelsay did all that I asked, and made suggestions that were both sensible and helpful. I recommend her and the White Violet Press without hesitation."

Joseph S. Salemi - Editor, TRINACRIA
"When my chapbook was accepted for publication by Aldrich Press, I was at once happy and apprehensive. It was, as they say, my first dance with a publisher. I was both afraid of stepping on and being stepped upon. As it turned out, the process was amazingly smooth. Expectations were clear, the process outlined, and followed.

My first book, Driving Home, arrived before schedule. The quality of its cover, format and design have brought both praise and envy from my fellows. Without reservation, I encourage those fortunate enough to be accepted by Karen Kelsay's company, to go forward with pride and assurance."

Jim Gustafson
"Karen has published two chapbooks for me -- Zero Gravitas (White Violet Press, 2012) and ALPHABETRICKS (Daffydowndilly Press, 2013) and both times she was a delight to work with– remarkably speedy, patient, helpful, and professional. With the first cover, she designed it beautifully; with the second, by my request, she let me design it. Authors have lots of input into layout and design; you won't feel "steamrolled" into accepting the first design proof. As always, authors should be very careful with proofreading.

Karen helped with PR by getting the word out on Facebook and by landing me a spot on the First Books Panel at the West Chester (PA) Poetry Conference. She's terrific!"

Barbara Lydecker Crane
"Having published hundreds of poets myself over the last twenty years, I know how difficult it can be for poets and editors to work together, especially on larger projects like poetry books. But my experience with Karen Kelsay was entirely positive, and I can recommend her services without reservation. I and my wife Beth are delighted with Violets for Beth, inside and out, and are very appreciative of the time Karen invested in the book, and her careful attention to every detail. I was also immensely pleased to be able to work with an editor who didn't discriminate against poems that express honest human sentiments, such as my unabashed love poems."

Michael R. Burch, editor, The HyperTexts
I worked with Karen through Aldrich Press on my second full-length collection and I can't say enough about her professionalism, friendly nature and good humor, pertinent suggestions, and timely replies to my questions. As a poet herself, she understands the whole gamut of writing and publishing, and treats her writers as collaborators that enjoy an understanding among each other. She produced my book earlier than I'd expected (a thrill!) and I love the end result. She not only has a talent for the mechanics of publication, but an artist's eye for design. Everyone who has seen and bought my new collection makes the same comments about the cover, the layout, and the overall quality: "What a gorgeous book," "This is really beautiful!" and on and on.

I'm proud to say my publisher is Kelsay Books/Aldrich Press, and I recommend Karen all the time to my poet friends.

Bernadette McBride, author of Food, Wine, and Other Essential Considerations—an Alphabet
"Karen Kelsay published my fourth book of poems, which was for me a particularly personal one since its fifty-one sonnets, taken as a whole, detailed my father's life and his descent into age-related dementia. Karen was absolutely lovely to work with. Her personal, and incredibly prompt responses, to my questions and concerns was something I hadn't experienced before, and although she was also working on other books simultaneously, I always had the impression that my book was just as important to her as it was to me. She allowed me to use a series of black and white photographs inside the book, as well as enthusiastically signing off on a personal photo of my father and me for the cover. On her website Karen promises to respond to manuscripts within seven days, and if she accepts your manuscript, to bring your book out in less than five months. I sent her my manuscript on December 10th, 2012, she sent me an acceptance and a copy of the contract onDecember 15th, and my book was in print and available for sale by March 25th, 2013! And it isn't just any book. It's a beautifully-produced, thoughtfully-designed book I'm proud to sell at readings.

I hope to meet Karen some day because she seems like someone I've already sat down with to talk about things that matter. She's remarkable, and not the least because she is also an award-winning poet herself who understands the frustrations and impediments that accompany the writing and publishing life."

Myrna Stone, author of In the Present Tense: Portraits of My Father
"I am writing to recommend Karen Kelsay Davies as an editor and publisher and Kelsay Books as an avenue for publication of a book of poetry. Working with Karen made the publication of my chapbook Paideia a pleasant experience. Her insightful suggestions made me feel as though I came up with them. Her emails were always professional and encouraging. She seemed a sort of editor, advisor, and publisher. Karen's sense for book design is one of her strengths. I am so pleased with the look and feel of my chapbook that I am certain that I will look to Kelsay Books or Aldrich Press when submitting in the future. Karen also stays in touch with the people she publishes. We are connected on Facebook and LinkedIn and follow each other. I give the Aldrich Press and Karen my highest recommendations. Anyone looking for a professional publication process and product and an expert and yet personal editor and publisher should submit to Kelsay Books."

Richard Murphy
"When my chapbook was accepted for publication by Aldrich Press, I was at once happy and apprehensive. It was, as they say, my first dance with a publisher. I was both afraid of stepping on and being stepped upon. As it turned out, the process was amazingly smooth. Expectations were clear, the process outlined, and followed.
My first book, Driving Home, arrived before schedule. The quality of its cover, format and design have brought both praise and envy from my fellows. Without reservation, I encourage those fortunate enough to be accepted by Karen Kelsay's company, to go forward with pride and assurance."

Jim Gustafson
"Working with Karen Kelsay at White Violet Press was such a joy. She was meticulous, passionate, prompt, and upbeat: all qualities I greatly admire. She knows what people like to read, and she knows the business. Because of her experience as an editor of an online journal, she knew the communities beforehand, and brought these communities with her into book publishing. Also, given the VIDA numbers, it is important to have strong editors of both genders shaping the course of the publishing future, and Karen Kelsay is certainly the future."

Kim Bridgford
"Kelsay Books produced a good quality, perfect bound, full-length collection of my poems. Everything from the cover to the inside was well done. I own many books from various publishers on my shelf and this is one of the better produced books. It was a pleasure to have gone through the process; whereas, with another publisher I had a bad experience which led to a cancellation of my book. I can compare and contrast and I can easily say that I would like to be published again by Kelsay Books."

Martin Willitts, Jr, author of "The Heart Knows, Simply, What It Needs", Kelsay Books
"Karen Kelsay has more energy than any editor I have ever met. Every year she produces dozens of new books and works hard to get them into the hands of readers. When I browse through her new offerings I always feel like a kid in a candy store. Among other things, she is one of just a small handful of publishers committed to serious metrical poetry in America and she publishes some of the best, such as David Landrum and Kim Bridgford. In order for there to be poetry, there have to be poems -- Kelsay works hard to produce attractive books, from cover to contents, and her commitment both to poetry and to its publication is making a difference."

David J Rothman
"Working with Karen Kelsay on my book, Hobble Creek Almanac, was a wonderful and refreshing experience. Karen is a straight shooter and open about her expectations and process. There were no surprises, other than to be delighted with the pace and results of the final product. I have worked with many editors over the course of my writing career and I must say Karen is at the top of my list for providing me with a pleasurable experience. From a swift response following my initial submission, to Karen's incredible work ethic, and receiving my product, everything went as advertised and agreed upon. Karen cares about the work and doing her best to satisfy the expectations of the writer. She looks at the production of a book as collaboration, which makes the birthing process from manuscript to book quite pleasurable. I can't say what the future holds for me or my writing, but I would hope it would include working with Karen again."

Justin Evans
"Karen Kelsay made things easy at every turn, and I was delighted to discover that once I had assembled my manuscript all the hard work on my part had been done: The editorial process was a breeze, especially since I was spared the effort of pagination and compiling a table of contents. The hour or two of necessary proofreading was nothing less than a welcome opportunity to get things letter-perfect, as well as a period of grace in which to make last-minute revisions -- the lifeblood of a poet's conceit. The search for appropriate cover art, which Karen undertook, yielded some excellent choices, and the result, I am happy to say, was a rather handsome well-formatted book of poetry."

CB Anderson
"Working with Karen Kelsay was a seamless pleasure. She is a serious poet and knows instinctively what matters to other poets. She understands that typeface and layout can make or break a poem. Her high standards work to fulfil the intentions of the poet. She loves to make things and her books bear witness to this love of craftmanship. I greatly appreciated her patience and tolerance."

Janet Kenny
"When I signed a contract with Karen Kelsay-Davies to publish The Harvest, I did not have high expectations about editorial aid and input. I was keenly aware of at least one famous poet who still, when presented with his initial collection for signing, first thumbs through the volume and changes at least five instances of errata, apologizing to the buyer. To my good fortune, Karen did have high expectations for herself as an editor. It took her very little time to get out a proof copy to me, and I cannot tell you how many times that proof went back and forth between us so that we could get it just right. Throughout the process, two qualities in Karen stood out to me: patience and concern for what I wanted in my book. I was, and am, delighted with the final product, and am very proud to have been one of the first poets to have been published by Kelsay Books."

Jeff Holt
"Working with Karen on my poetry manuscript went so smoothly. Karen was able to turn my inarticulate vision into a gorgeous book cover we both loved. What I especially liked was Karen's ability to enhance Cracking Geodes Open all the while never compromising its inherent integrity. When it came time to publish and distribute, Karen has been consistently on top of getting copies of into the hands of book reviewers and book shows. Integrity, trust, vision! Thank you, Karen!"

Sherry O'Keefe
"Karen was a joy to work with on my first book. She responded immediately to any inquiry, made herself available as a sounding board, and was personally involved in every aspect of the production process, from line edits, to art selection to advice on collecting blurbs. When the shipment of author copies arrives and you hold the first one in your hands, you appreciate the personal attention that results in an attractive and well-made book that meets or exceeds your expectations."

Tim Hawkins – author of Wanderings at Deadline (Aldrich Press, 2012)
"Kelsay Books is a good choice for any publishing poet. A poet herself, Editor Karen Kelsay has the ability to put herself in your place and to help make appropriate choices for your book. You will find that working with her is like working with a good friend. "

Sally Cook
"I was lucky to have my work accepted by Kelsay Books/The Aldrich Press, and I was even luckier when it came to working with Karen Kelsay. When I could not find a cover to communicate the theme of my book, she found one that said everything I wanted to say, and said it elegantly. She was a patient and meticulous copy editor. After the book was published, she continued to support my work by notifying people about reviews of my work and sending out press releases where I needed them to go. She also came to a reading I arranged to promote the book. Kelsay Books/The Aldrich Press not only gave me a chance, but also the confidence to introduce myself and my work to a larger literary community."

Jane Rosenberg LaForge
pushcart pictureThe Pushcart Prize - Best of the Small Presses, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America. Hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in the pages of our annual collections.

Writers who were first noticed here include:
Raymond Carver, Tim O'Brien, Jayne Anne Phillips, Charles Baxter, Andre Dubus, Susan Minot, Mona Simpson, John Irving, Rick Moody, and many more. Each year most of the writers and many of the presses are new to the series.

Our Pushcart Prize editions are found in most libraries and bookstores. Each volume contains an index of past selections, plus lists of outstanding presses with addresses.

The Pushcart Prize Fellowships is the endowment for The Pushcart Prize, and appreciates contributions in any amount. For more information contact Bill Henderson at Pushcart Press.

Each year will select six excellent poems for the Pushcart Prize before the first of December

Pushcart Nominations 2017

Fairy Dust
Margaret Chula ~ from Daffodils at Twilight

My Walk to Work
Felice Aull ~ f
rom Mandatory Evacuation Zone

Descanso Drive
Charlotte Innes ~ from Descanso Drive

The Best Years of My Life
Robbi Nester ~ from Other-wise

Madame Cézanne with Unbound Hair (1869)
Laurie Byro ~ from The Bloomsberries and Other Curiosities

From No Longer at this Address
Ruth Bavetta ~ from No Longer at this Address

Nominations 2016

How to Summon Your Inner Child
Allison Joseph ~ from her book  Mortal Rewards

You Wasted Nothing
Claudine Nash ~ from her book Parts per Trillion

Widow at the Samples Display
William Aarnes ~ from his book Do in Dour

The Poem Blanks Her Verses to the Good Ladies of the Underground Railroad
Joy Roulier Sawyer ~ from her book  Tongues of Men and Angels

House Burning
Donna Spector ~ from her book  Two Worlds

Wendy Sloan ~ from her book  Sunday Mornings at the Caffe Mediterraneum

Nominations 2015


John Warner Smith ~ from his book A Mandala of Hands

Full Moon Silhouettes

Christine Klocek-Lim ~ from her book  Dark Matter

Poem beginning and ending with lines from James Agee

Bill Mayer ~ from his book  A Truce with Fantasy  

Minuet in Pink

Esther Erford ~ from her book  Leaves from an Autumn Wood 

Apple Eating

Lynn Marie Houston ~ from her book  The clever Dream of Man

Elegy for a Third Grader

Marianne Smith Johnson ~ from her book  Tender Collisions       

Nominations 2014

My Son, Contrary to Medical Expectations, Is Born Laughing
Richard Nester ~ from his book Buffalo Laughter

Quilters of Gee's Bend
Alarie Tennile ~ from her book Running Counterclockwise

Joan Colby ~ from her book Properties of Matter

Poem for a Sunday
Justin Hamm ~ from his book Lessons in Ruin

To the Ocean in Summer
Jean L. Kreiling ~ from her book The Truth in Dissonance

Nearly and Almost
Tina Hacker ~ from her book Listening to Night Whistles