Sunday, October 1, 2023







NILAVRONILL: What are the factors that have influenced you immensely in the growing phase of your literary life? When, most probably when you were not certain of your future as a poet or writer. Do you think society as a whole is the key factor in shaping you up as a poet or your poetry altogether?


KELLE GRACE GADDIS: When I was in elementary school, kindergarten through sixth grade in the United States, I was bookish and quiet at school. In summer the public library hosted a reading contest each summer. To win, one needed to read the most books. I won every year from first grade through sixth grade, which gave me a wealth of knowledge in poetry and fiction at a very early age. I was able to read at a college level by fourth grade. So, like many who fell in love with reading at a young age, I soon began to imagine myself as a writer. In second grade, I created my first handbound book. I still have this little book today. So, to answer the question, I would say I fell in love with reading and the idea of writing from the time I could read. The books I read influenced me to become a poet and fiction writer. My influences were other writers ranging from Dr. Seuss to Sylvia Plath and all points in between.


NILAVRONILL: Is there anyone in your life who influenced you personally to develop your literary skills? Or inspire you to become a poet?


KELLE GRACE GADDIS: My father was a Doctor of Chiropractic, but when he was in college, he played in a band and loved all facets of the arts. Both he and my mother, who paints and sculpts, encouraged me to pursue any creative endeavors that I was drawn to. They kept me stocked up in books to read and journals to write in. My second grade teacher, Ms. Kane, was the one who encouraged me to create my first poetry chapbook. She taught me how to design the book and bind it together. A skill I still use today. Later in life, my high school and college writing peers also provided considerable encouragement.


NILAVRONILL: Do you consider your literary life an extension of your self-existence? If so, how is it related to the time around you?


KELLE GRACE GADDIS: My literary life is integral to my identity and life. Even when working in the non-literary world, I think like a writer. When I come up with an idea or think of an interesting turn of phrase at work, I quickly text to myself so as not to forget. I write it into a poem or short story when I get home. To this end, for me, the world is a poetic event. As I experience it, time provides an opportunity to capture life's inherent poetry and instill it with my personality. I see myself as one who weaves the world's humor, tragedy, and beauty into poems with varying degrees of success.


NILAVRONILL: According to you, what are the conditions to develop the creative soul of a poet in general? We would like to know from your personal experiences.


KELLE GRACE GADDIS: Firstly, I believe people are either born with a creative soul or not. However, if one is born with a creative soul, being well-read is essential for cultivating one's natural gift as a poet or writer of any other form. That said, some people only realize they have a creative soul later in their lives. Immersion in poetry is also extremely important. These days I have less time to read than I once did, but I still read some poetry and fiction every week to keep my mind attuned to my craft.


NILAVRONILL: Do you think in this age of information and technology, the dimensions of literature have been largely extended beyond our preconceived ideas about literature in general?


KELLE GRACE GADDIS: The view that technology enhances poetry is quite popular in academia. To some extent, I agree. Technology has taken us beyond our ideas of literature, especially if one accepts that AI-written poetry is sometimes quite good. The computers have access to all of the poetry uploaded into their memory banks, enabling them to replicate the best of poetry with new inputs that work. However, as a human being who likes to write, I prefer human-generated poetry, even if flawed, because its created by one mind and one imagination rather than an amalgamation of creative works input into a database. Technology-driven poetry is a novelty, whereas human-written poems and stories are the product of the mind and soul of a conscious human being.


NILAVRONILL: As a poet, do socio-economy and politics in general influence your literary visions? If so, how? If not, why?


KELLE GRACE GADDIS: I'm fascinated by the socio-economic and political events in the world. At times, these enter into my work. In 2015, I wrote a poem about a gelatinous man with no spine because he would not state his political opinions. It was published in Clamor Magazine and, later included in my book My Myths, published by Yellow Chair Review. And, in 2019, I wrote an anti-Trump poem published by Dispatch Editions anthology Resist Much Obey Little before I realized I'd been propagandized about the man. I now like Trump and wish I could retract that poem, but it is in print, so there is nothing to be done about it now. Since then, I've steered away from political poems because most of the poetry world leans into the far-left ideology I do not support. There are few places to publish poems from a Libertarian or Republican perspective. Not writing political poetry doesn't mean I don't write about politics. I wrote so many controversial essays on the Medium platform that their rigid censors banned me. I have several political essays up on the Substack platform now.


NILAVRONILL: Do you consider your national identity as an important factor in influencing your literary creativity identity? Is your national identity an incentive to find your own literary voice?


KELLE GRACE GADDIS: I was born on the Tulalip Indian Reservation, which is part of the Native American Nations in the United States. I wrote many poems about my early life there and my transition from the reservation to mainstream USA. Because I chose the American national identity, my nation is important to me. My family was part of the "melting pot" generation, and I believe our assimilation benefited my literary career and personal growth. Many would disagree with this choice in today's woke climate, but I stand by it.


Reservations in the 1970s were bleak places. My parents ensured I had a mainstream American education, which, back then, was very different from the education young people get today. I was fortunate to be immersed in classic literature, philosophy, and history, which I still love. Reading the great works inspired me to write. So, embracing the American spirit and American way gave me the confidence to create, think and grow as a writer.


People with different national identities can also create, think, and grow through their experiences. The embrace of the love of one's country can be an inspiration regardless of the country one is born. It's about collective values and ideology, a turnkey connection with others of similar backgrounds. When one writes from a national perspective, there is an automatic connection to those with a similar foundation, and for those from other countries, national poems offer insight into the people outside of one's own national identity.


NILAVRONILL: In between tradition and modernism, which one influences you the most and why?


KELLE GRACE GADDIS: Aesthetically, I prefer traditional poetry, most likely because, as I have mentioned, I was raised reading classic literature and poetry. That said, I have written modern poetry and seek to grow as a writer by exploring new forms from time to time.


NILAVRONILL: Do you think honest literary criticism has much to do with the development of a poet and the true understanding of his or her poetry?


KELLE GRACE GADDIS: When I first attended college in the late 80s and early 90s, literary criticism and group critiques were common. I grew considerably as a writer during this time, and I still believe it is valuable for a writer to receive criticism of their work. Honest criticism will always make the work better. Later, between 2011 and 2016, when I acquired a Certificate in Finance from Yale and a Master's in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, I learned that honest literary critique in poetry circles had become a thing of the past. People giving honest critique is more beneficial than exclusively receiving hollow praise, but modern poetry students are more sensitive to criticism, so it's rarely given. In my MFA writing program, so-called "negative criticism" wasn't allowed. Without the help of my fellow writers' critical eye, it is more difficult to work out the kinks in a poem. I have cultivated a couple of literary friends who will give honest criticism, and I am profoundly grateful for them.


NILAVRONILL: I would like to know if your contemporaries inspire your writing in any way.


KELLE GRACE GADDIS: I am inspired by all poets. It doesn't matter if someone's poetry is written in my or a completely different style; every poet teaches me something.


NILAVRONILL: Do you believe literature can help people to uplift human conscience?


KELLE GRACE GADDIS: People have always grown and changed through story and poetry. And, although civilization is under fire from woke ideology, which seeks to destroy it, I am optimistic because writers are still producing meaningful literature that impacts people's morality and ethics. As long as there is literature, conscience, and civilization will continue.


NILAVRONILL: Humanity has suffered immensely in the past and is still suffering worldwide. We all know it well. As a literary person, how do you foresee the future of mankind?


KELLE GRACE GADDIS: Although some suffer more than others, no one escapes suffering. As a poet and literary person, creativity, writing poems and stories, is a way to heal, teach, and transcend issues. Writers’ strike universal chords in the hearts and minds of their readers, which can bring people together. On a grander scale, I believe the future of humanity will be experienced differently by people. Some will experience a nightmare, others a mediocrity, and others still a dream. People everywhere can find themselves in any of these, if not all, throughout their lives. Which one becomes their most profound experience depends on how flexible they are. Those who can adapt or are willing to take action to improve their circumstances will do better than those who are rigid and unwilling to change. My short answer is that the future is bright if one is willing to see brightness regardless of circumstances.


NILAVRONILL: We are almost at the end of the interview. I remain obliged to you for your participation. Now, personally, I would like to know your honest opinion of Our Poetry Archive. Since April 2015, we have been publishing and archiving contemporary world poetry each and every month. Thank you for sharing your views and spending a lot of time with us.

KELLE GRACE GADDIS: I am in awe of your eight-year commitment to Our Poetry Archive. As a former publisher, I know how much time and work goes into curating literary works. Secondly, I'm grateful for your generosity and worldwide reach. You allow so many of us to connect with others worldwide through your amazing creative endeavor. I have enjoyed reading and sharing work with this worldwide literary community. Thank you for including my work in Our Poetry Archive and also for the interview!


KELLE GRACE GADDIS is the author of My Myths published (Yellow Chair Review) and When I'm Not Myself (Cyberwit). Her work has appeared in BlazeVOX, Rhetoric Askew, Dispatches Editions, and elsewhere. She is a 4Culture "Poetry on the Buses" winner, a National Fiction War winner, and a three-time NYC Midnight top fifteen finalist.




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