My Poetry Book Wins Contest!

Some good news! My first full-length poetry collection has been accepted by Texas Review Press (see the first link in the comments). My book was chosen for their Southern Breakthrough Series, a contest that seeks new works from a different southern state each year. My collection, titled Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers, was chosen to represent WV, my home state. The title refers to something bucks do to harden their antlers in anticipation of the fighting come mating season. This is my first full-length book, a longstanding dream of mine! The book will debut in February 2023. My thanks to TRP, all the editors who first published these poems, and especially the editors at Kestrel, A Journal of Literature and Art, where the title poem first appeared (thanks Donna Long, @Elizabeth Savage, Suzanne Heagy). #poetry


Speaking of Marvels: Chapbook Reviews

This week Speaking of Marvels, a site that publishes interviews by chapbook authors, published an interview with me about the creation and publication of Velvet Rodeo. Other recent interviews have include poets Danez Smith, Allison Joseph and Elizabeth Savage. For anyone interested in the creation, production, and marketing of chapbooks, the site reveals the various processes and provides sample poems by the authors. Click here to read the review:


Lots of shout-outs in the interview to those folks tagged.

Velvet Rodeo Kick-Off Reading 4/4/14

Velvet Rodeo Kick-Off Reading 4/4/14:
Some Pittsburgh poets are coming to town and they asked me to read with them. Join us at Tattooed Mom’s on 4/4/14. I don’t know if I will actually *RANT*, but I’ll do my best to wax poetic!  This meeting of Pennsylvania east and west will also be the Philly debut of VELVET RODEO. 7 pm at Tattooed Mom’s, 530 South Street in Philly. Featuring Bob Walicki, Angele Ellis and Philly poet Laura Spagnoli.




VELVET RODEO Book Tour – Spring 2014

Announcing the VELVET RODEO Book Tour!
Scroll down for dates. #VelvetRodeo #Poetry

VELVET RODEO is the recent winner of the Bloom Chapbook Prize, judged by poet C. Dale Young, who wrote of it: “‘The tongue I try to master / is a sticky one, forked and full of tricks,’ is the opening of a poem in Velvet Rodeo, and it becomes a point of return for the collection. These poems understand that to tell the truth, one must lie, play tricks, and even dare to say the unbelievable. Careful and exacting, these poems exact a price from a reader. They linger with you long after you have finished reading them.”



Order at:


March 28, 2014. Friday, 6 pm. SIBLING RIVALRY PRESS Group Reading. Kelly McQuain’s first reading in NYC! The New York debut of Velvet Rodeo! Celebrating the Rainbow Book Fair at Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia Street. With Sibling Rivalry Press authors. Hosted by Bryan Borland and Seth Pennington.

March 29, 2014. Saturday afternoon. Rainbow Book Fair Reading at the Midtown Holiday Inn, New York City. Noon.


April 4, 2014. Friday, 7 pm. VELVET RODEO — the Philly Book Launch!!! Tattooed Mom’s bar, South Street, Philadelphia. McQuain reads with Laura Spagnoli and Pittsburgh poets Bob Walicki and Angele Ellis.

April 12, 2014. Saturday. PHILADELPHIA POETRY DAY!
3 pm: Reading at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. On April 12, 2014, poetry will bloom in Philadelphia. Poetry Everywhere! Here at the Sketch Club in the Exhibition Gallery surrounded by the works of the Small Oils Exhibition, a poetry reading by four area poets is scheduled from 3:00 to 4:30 pm. Juditha Dowd, Kelly McQuain, Helen Mirkil and Wendy Steginsky!

May 13, 2014. Tuesday, 7 pm. PAINTED BRIDE QUARTERLY Featured Reading at Black Sheep Pub, 247 S. 17th St., Philadelphia. Also featuring poet Teresa Leo, author of Bloom in Reverse.

May, 2014. Saints and Sinners Literary Festival — TBA.

June 11. Wednesday. 7 pm. MOONSTONE READING SERIES. Fergie’s Pub. Reading with Teresa Leo. Open mic to follow, hosted by Charles Carr.

If you’d like a sneak peak at one of the poems in the collection, here’s one that appeared in Bloom:

Another of the poems, “Lent”, is scheduled to be republished in The Philadelphia Inquirer on April 30th.



Kestrel Pushcart Nomination for “Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers”

Just when I needed a nice shot in the arm to tackle some new writing projects, I got some terrific news from the journal Kestrel. The editors there nominated my poem “Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers” for the Pushcart Prize awards. The poem is the first poem in my forthcoming poetry chapbook, Velvet Rodeo, due out from Bloom press in early 2014. My thanks to the editors at Kestrel for making my day!


New Kestrel Poetry Publication: “Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers”


I received two copies last week of the latest issue from the fine folks at Kestrel literary journal. They published my poem, “Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers”, in their new issue, #30/Spring2013. It’s a longish poem, and I’m happy it found a home in that WV journal since that is where the poem is set: the hill upon which my grandfather’s house set out at Kerens, WV. A big thanks to the editors and staff of Kestrel for publishing this poem, which is part of a manuscript I’m readying this summer. Here are a few lines from the opening:

Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers

As you take the hill, the hill takes you–
raking you and your siblings into
a grassy sway of beetles and spiders moving,
and the day’s hot ricochet of blue bottle flies
and bees gone crazy in their looping.
Your brother and sister run to catch the horizon.
You wade slowly through the lashing,
alive with combustion, eager for bursting…

Find out more about Kestrel, including how to order copies or subscribe on FB or by Googling their main page.