Showcased Writer: Victoria Kelly

victoria_kelly_photographInterviewed by: Bre Hall

“The Departure” from Issue 11

Victoria Kelly received her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, her B.A. Summa Cum Laude from Harvard University, and her M.Phil. in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin, where she was a U.S. Mitchell Scholar. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Best American Poetry 2013 (Scribner) as well as Alaska Quarterly Review, Southwest Review, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Nimrod, and Hopkins Review, among others. Her chapbook, Prayers of an American Wife, was published by Autumn House Press in 2013. Her first full-length poetry collection, When the Men Go Off to War, will be published by the Naval Institute Press in 2015, as the first poetry collection in the Press’s 100-year history. Her debut novel will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2016.

How and when did you come to writing?

I have been stories and poetry for as long as I can remember, but it was while I was an undergraduate at Harvard that I began to think it was something I could pursue seriously. I was fortunate enough to take classes with wonderful writers there, including the poet Peter Richards and the novelist Katherine Vaz.

What was the inspiration by your prose poem, “The Departure”?

This poem is actually a true story. My father is a very intuitive person, and not long before my grandmother died, unexpectedly, he had a dream that my grandfather, who had died a few years earlier, came to get her. They had been married for over fifty years when he died.

Why did you choose to write the “The Departure” as prose poetry? Did you know it would be a prose poem from the beginning?

I set out with the intention of making it a prose poem from the start. I knew I wanted to compile a collection, and I wanted to experiment with different styles of poetry. I had been writing a lot of verse before that, and I wanted to do something different.

What genre of writing do you prefer? Is your other work similar to “The Departure” or different? How?

I also write fiction and earned my MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in Fiction. My debut novel is coming out with Simon & Schuster in 2016, and my debut story collection will be published with Queen’s Ferry Press that year also. The Naval Institute Press will be publishing my first poetry collection, When the Men Go Off to War, in Fall 2015.

How have you grown because of writing?

I cannot imagine doing anything else. Writing allows me to feel like my “work” is something I am actually passionate about, something worthwhile. I also have a one-year-old daughter, and another on the way, and it is something I can do while also being a mom.