Contributor Spotlight: Kelli Allen


“If you sleep, no one will die,” “The price is the pearl you buried,” and “Sweet water then, darling” by Kelli Allen appeared in our Fall – Winter ’16 issue and can be read here.

Tell us a little about these poems.

Each of these three poems addresses moments in myth. The stanzas incorporate animal images to serve as reminders that our stories are not just our own. The notion that our global community is one comprised of humans, yes, but also every other awake thing excites me. Every object is worthy of attention.

What was the most difficult part of writing in this style?

The most difficult part of these poems rests in how they play with the vertical. The images are not simple and there is risk in layering too much allusion in contemporary poetry. Reading the great stories and learning fairy tales is not exactly en vogue anymore—this makes alluding to the Greco Roman pantheon, as well as Native American lore and the Hero’s Journey, dangerous. The intimacy in the poems is an attempt to connect the inward world with the larger, richer one we sometimes occupy. There are tethers in these lines, but not ones made of silk.

Recommend a book for us which was published within the last decade.

I recommend Tinkers by Paul Harding. Yes, this is a novel, and it is a gorgeous one,  and has taught me more about paying attention to the quiet, violent natural world than any poetry collection I have read in the past ten years.

If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be?

I would happily, greedily, sit down with Neil Gaiman and have a spot of tea. I would ask him to tell me three stories and I would try ever-so-hard not to openly swoon.

What are you working on now? What’s next?

My newest full-length poetry collection comes out from C&R Press early 2017. I have another collection in the works that deals heavily with Trickster tales. We can only side-eye Coyote, scraggly yellow beast that he is, for so long. The most cunning tricksters always get their due.

Our thanks to Kelli for taking the time to answer a few questions and share her work. Read Allen’s wonderful poetry here:



Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and internationally. She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has won awards for her poetry, prose, and scholarly work. She served as Managing Editor ofNatural Bridge, is the current Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Review, is an editor for River Styx, and holds an MFA from the University of Missouri St. Louis. She is the director of the River Styx Hungry Young Poets Series and founded the Graduate Writers Reading Series for UMSL. She is currently a Professor of Humanities and Creative Writing at Lindenwood University and teaches for The Pierre Laclede Honors College at UMSL. Her chapbook, Some Animals, won the 2016 Etchings Press Prize. Her chapbook, How We Disappear, won the 2016 Damfino Press chapbook award. Her newest full-length will be released from C&R Press January, 2017. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books in 2012 and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.