Today, I have the incredible honor of self  interviewing a most interesting guest here at The Nervous Breakdown….Karen Kelsay.

Thank you! I’m so pleased to be here.


Karen, where did you grow up and did your childhood experiences shape your poetry in any way?

When I was six, my family moved to the city of Orange, which is very close to Anaheim, California.  As a child I spent a lot of time at Disneyland and often found myself daydreaming about hiding out at Tom Sawyer’s Island, then swimming across the water to spend the night in the Swiss Family Robinson tree house. My head was filled with Disney movies, I knew all the words to every song…I really wanted to be Hayley Mills (maybe that’s why I married an Englishman).


By Karen Kelsay


Alone on the playground’s edge,
surrounded by a troupe of invisible ballerinas
who transform her frayed skirt into a flash of tulle

while others play foursquare and hopscotch
on the blacktop, she exercises her superpowers
by blocking out thoughts of her mother’s demons.

DSC_0004This is the first time you’ve been interviewed as a poet—and it’s a self-interview.

I know. It’s weird.


Try to get past that and tell us why, having been a musician all your life, you started also to write poems.

Back in high school I pursued both music and poetry, but I matured far more quickly as a musician. So I went to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, then to New York to become a freelance drummer and percussionist. The beauty of freelancing, for me, is in the variety of musical styles I’m asked to perform in while collaborating with players who provoke me to make contributions I would never come up with on my own.