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Kathryn Petruccelli is a bi-coastal poet, teacher and performer with aspirations in radio, obsessions around the meaning of home and belonging, and a deep belief in the power of story. Her professional life has included translating “Hotel California” for Hungarian high schoolers and anthologizing poetry by rival gang members. She got her start in the world of poetry slam and spoken word and believes strongly in the power of voice. She’s also passionate about getting contemporary poetry, particularly that of poets of color, in front of youth.
Nominated for Best of the Net in 2020 (“Daal/In the Midst of the Pandemic“), she was also a finalist for the 2019 Omnidawn Broadside Poetry Prize judged by Dan Beachy-Quick. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Southern Review, New Ohio Review, Rattle, Poet Lore, River Teeth’s Beautiful Things column, Catamaran Literary Review, december Magazine, SWWIM Every Day, Literary Mama, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Ruminate, and Split Rock Review. Her piece “How to Read This Essay” was chosen as a past winner of San Francisco’s LitQuake Festival essay contest, and her poem “Little Steps: Workshop, Week 10” earned honorable mention for the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest judged by Marge Piercy. She has had the great fortune to work with poets Ellen Bass and Danusha Laméris and owes much to these two women.
Raised on Long Island, NY and Cape May, New Jersey (Exit 0, thanks for asking), Kathryn moved to the west coast to pursue a Master’s degree at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 1998. She graduated with an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and continued to live on the beautiful central coast of California for 13 years. She admires fireflies and sarcasm a great deal, both of which seem to be in short supply on the west coast and could be why she returned to the east with her family in the summer of 2011 while keeping close ties to California.
Kathryn has taught English, creative and expository writing and life skills via the adult school and community college systems, and California State University Monterey Bay, as well as for secondary school kids in Veszprém, Hungary and campers in the Czech countryside. She has taught poetry and performance workshops for California Poets in the Schools and independently and written distance curriculum for high schoolers adopted by Mass Poetry as well as teaching online for that organization. She served as host to the Rubber Chicken Poetry Slam (co-founder), and the Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Tuesday Poetry Readings, and has aired literary interviews for the now-defunct KUSP radio (Santa Cruz, California) and bookotron.com with amazing folks like Isabel Allende, Gish Jen, and Nikki Giovanni. For eight years, she was a regular freelancer covering community events and theatre in the Monterey Herald’s GO! entertainment supplement.
Kathryn’s poetry has consistently planted her squarely between the angst-ridden, chain-smoking spoken word crowd and readings attended by refined people in silk scarves. Kathryn’s intent in her work is often to ask people to rethink cultural habits. Her favorite thing, besides writing about herself in the third person, is storytelling and geeking out on language. Delving into conversations about the places the page and the stage interact is one of her very favorite activities. She performs her work whenever possible and reads everything out loud. Voice: it’s biological. Performance is just another avenue for people to center their lives around creating art, which Kathryn feels strongly is pretty much what we’re supposed to do while we’re on the planet. She has been known to burst out sobbing at the sound of a beautiful singing voice.