The long conversation that comes up for me at times like this though is the one that goes you catch hell tryin’ to make a livin’ here, but you learn everything you need to know if you’re paying attention to be even more successful elsewhere. I’m both happy and sad to share that Kelly Harris, award winning poet, performer, consummate volunteer, poetry workshop facilitator, and Cave Canem Fellow is getting married to what I already know is a wonderful man because she picked him, and moving to New Orleans—one of my favorite places to be in the world.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Kelly for about ten years and remember being struck by her good vibe, and tight, funk-driven, proud-to-be-Black and Christian driven poetry, her way of always being inclusive, and welcoming, her way of selflessly serving our community.
A native Clevelander, Kelly has stayed busy in other ways too—a member of our winning National Slam team, completing her MFA from Lesley University, 2007 Akron Art Museum’s New Words Winner, and honored as an emerging voice by Writers and Their Friends, are among a host of other things I could mention that this young, African American woman has accomplished.
When asked she always gives her mentor, Mwatabu Okantah credit for inspiring her to perform her work. We are blessed that he did—Kelly truly knows how to bring words to life. Kelly says that her “great-grandmother whom [she] never met dreamed to be a poet. I am living her dream.” Yes you are Kelly, yes you are. I’ll miss you, but know that this is not goodbye. I plan to visit you and your new family in New Orleans, and I’m certain I speak for many of us when I ask you to make certain to keep in touch—let us know how you are, and share details about the wonderful work I know you’ll continue to do.
Here is the text of Kelly's farewell posted at our sister list serve:
Dear Cleveland Poetics,
I will be leaving Cleveland for love and relocating near the New Orleans area this fall. My fiancé works for the media there. He’s also freelanced for Time, Essence and most recently, the Boston Globe. Who knows where life will eventually take us! Certainly New Orleans and the surrounding areas have challenges, but there are some wonderful opportunities awaiting me/us.
Most importantly I will finally have time to be write, complete Cave Canem, and do some volunteering for worthy organizations. Also there is a great community of writers there.
It has been my pleasure to work with some many of you whether it was for a slam, community project or serving as a board member for the Lit. Thank you all for your mentoring and support of me as a poet.
I’d also like to thank so many of you for your support during my mother’s bout with cancer. She is doing very well now.
In the future my husband and I will be offering a small poetry award to female poet in Cleveland. It will be administered by the Lit.
I am sure I will see many of you either at Writers & Friends, the Anisfield Book Awards or at my reading at Mac’s on September 10th.
Cleveland will always be home.
Kelly A. Harris, MFA
P.S. I've been in two great publications recently: www.pluckonline.com or ww.pms-journal.org (shameless plug for cool poetry and publications)