SLANT Feature Poet

Feature Poet Profile – Candice Kelsey

This spring was a busy and productive time for Slant contributor Candice Kelsey. She witnessed the publication of three books:

  • A full length poetry collection titled The Poet Dreams of Driving a Ding-A-Ling Ice Cream Truck & Other Means of Escape from Pine Row Press
  • A poetry chapbook titled Choose Your Own Poem from Cherry Dress
  • And a prose chapbook titled Puzzling Things from Fauxmoir Lit Press.

The Poet Dreams of Driving a Ding-A-Ling Ice Cream Truck is Candice’s third full-length collection. Her first, Still I Am Pushing, appeared in 2020 and was followed by A Girl / Woman / Teacher / Poet in 2022. The Poet Dreams includes her poem “Portrait of the Poet at Truxton’s Neighborhood Bistro,” which first appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of Slant

About this new book, Sam Szanto, author of If No One Speaks and Splashing Pink, writes:

Candice Kelsey writes beautifully and lyrically in this wide-ranging collection about our attempts to escape and failures to do so. These are brave, funny and fearless poems, which consider the issues of family, grief, feminism, violence, poetry alongside many others with the poet’s signature brand of brilliant and wry observation. Kelsey is the rare intellectual who manages to write poems that are accessible to everyone.

The two chapbooks have received equally favorable reviews. Jared Beloff, author of Who Will Cradle Your Head, describes the short poetry collection as a “highly inventive, sobering, beautiful and remarkable collection” and adds, “This poetic homage to the Choose Your Own Adventure narratives reinvents what it means to read poetry. The juxtaposition of poems is now partly in the hands of the reader: you are delighted to find yourself rereading a poem in a new way and you choose to do so again and again.”

And Dhana Musil, author of Write As If Your Parents are Dead, contributes the following about the fiction chapbook: “Family, history, and universal longing intersect through Puzzling Things in a masterful weave. Each story and its accompanying puzzle is a doorway into a literary and figurative world that is always compelling, sometimes harrowing, sometimes shocking but always timeless.”

Candice is a poet, educator, activist, and essayist originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, who mentors emerging writers and particularly enjoys working with the incarcerated population. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English from Miami University of Ohio, with an emphasis on epic poetry. She later earned a Master’s degree in English, with an emphasis on feminist theory, at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She now divides her time between L.A. and Augusta, Georgia. Her work has also appeared in a number of other journals, including Passengers Journal, Variant Literature, and The Laurel Review. She also serves as a poetry reader for The Los Angeles Review and previously served as a fiction reader for The New England Review.

You can read her poems “Portrait of the Poet at Truxton’s Neighborhood Bistro” at Slant Fall 2022 and “Bea Arthur’s Stare” at Slant Spring 2022. And you get to know her better at