Poet, Playwright, Workshop Facilitator
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Kelly's News BLOG

My News - announcements, workshops, events & publications!

all the way to the waterfall - and back - My Monthly Newsletter

"This is your dance, your sibling dance

of competition, confrontation,

and negotiation."

We've just returned from an annual family vacation where I took this picture of my three twenty-something children a few nights ago, playing a game. You can't see what's truly remarkable about this photo: the rifts in relationship that preceded this untroubled, unified vacation with sibling harmony and happiness. I took this picture because I'm grateful, and relieved - because I'm a sibling who has survived decades of conflicts and rivalries with two sisters and two brothers, to age together, still close, still unified, still there for each other, still bonded by love. 

In my 2001 book, Before You Forget - The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children, I have a chapter on writing diary stories about sibling rivalry - Chapter Ten: Conflict as Quest. I'm glad I wrote this sibling rivalry story about taking Landon and Perri, ages 8 and 3, on a quest through conflict - a hike to a waterfall in Vermont. I'm grateful for their dance, especially when it's toward each other. . . 

You can read the entire essay here and check out all my upcoming events!

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Pickup Playback Theatre, Racial Justice Training & Higher Education

A year ago I had the unique opportunity to join a Playback Theatre diversity training program for graduate school faculty led by Nisha Sajnani. As member of this "pickup" Playback Troupe, (a small group of us assembled specifically for these faculty trainings), I had the chance to enact faculty stories about racial justice in higher education, facilitated by Nisha for graduate faculty at Lesley University. Recently, an insightful and informational blog about this enlightening program was published by Nisha and her collaborator, Amanda Wager, on Playback Theatre Reflects - An independent blog for writing on Playback Theatre, curated by Jo Salas.

Below is an excerpt from this article, and to read the entire blog, go here

"Gaps, Complicities, and Connections: Stories from a Movement Towards Racial Justice in Higher Education," by Nisha Sajnani and Amanda Wager

In Playback Theatre we refer to “the red thread,” the connection that can emerge between spontaneously told stories–not simply a theme, but a kind of dialogue between the stories themselves. We are seeing a red thread emerge in this blog, a conversation about Playback Theatre’s capacities and responsibilities in relation to participation, inclusiveness, and social justice. This new article from Nisha Sajnani and Amanda Wager continues the red thread, looking at a sequence of performances exploring racial justice on an American university campus.

Nisha is the incoming Director of the Drama Therapy program at New York University and the principal editor of Drama Therapy Review. Amanda is an educator, researcher, and an Assistant Professor at Lesley University. See full bios following the article.

Below is an excerpt from this article, and to read the entire blog, go here




Two of My Nature Photos are Featured in "Prayers for the Planet" Issue of Young Ravens Literary Review

I'm honored to have two of #mydailywalk nature photos featured in Issue 6 of Young Ravens Literary Review - an issue themed "Prayers for the Planet" - I hope you'll have a look at what they've included in this issue's inspiration, about which they say: 

"In a time of environmental degradation and societal unrest, the artists and poets of Young Ravens gather around proverbial creative fires to send up prayers for this irreplaceable planet.
A silver river runs through all these works, and it is this: even the most mundane experience with nature opens the observer to an encounter with the magical, the numinous, the eternal. The gulls of Jenn Powers’s “Salt Water” and Ahrend Torrey’s “Recognizing Eternity” preside over this issue, inviting readers to embark on this sparkling expanse and soak in nature’s glories. Other artists explore the nature of our relationships with each other. In “The Universe is Yours,” Vivian Wagner thanks Emily for reminding her how to be grounded in the present and appreciate the shining now."

You can read the issue and view my images, "Seed Pod in Winter," and "Milkweed Bird" here.





because my father never took us to church, he attended his garden

Writing Truth & Beauty Newsletter, June 2017

My father loved growing peonies. He loved showing them to us when they bloomed in his yard every June. He would pick two - three at most - bring them indoors, and put them in vase for my mother. 

I miss my father's peonies every June. So, a year or two ago, I planted some of my own. This week they are in bloom. I picked one to bring inside for my mother and father in their absence.

I wrote this short personal essay (published in my chapbook, Tree of the Apple), about visiting my father in memory care during the gap of time when he longer grew his peonies and I had not yet planted my own. 


Driving to memory care all my voices argue - I should bring a treat to lift his spiritsI should hug him and smile, say it’s me, DadI should skip it he’s probably nappinghe won’t know I’m there, except then how will I solve why he’s not

My garden, my peony

My garden, my peony

in his garden when I need to tell him hard or happy news and ask what is his plan for his summer – what seedlings are started and which soft day will he step me to the yard in front to bend my head and lean into the scent of peonies he’s staked under a fair and trusted sky

because my father never took us to church, he attended his garden. Who can say what this means about believing in God, this faith in what grows from a seed in soil he fertilized by  fresh manure, where he practiced error and trial, renewal and hope. Above all, how he put his trust in pails. This devotion to watering each cucumber plant or tomato by hand not hose, how he opposed giving weeds any advantage in a decent rectangle - a yellow squash blossom place he tilled for letting him reach us

but, now I am driving to find him, it’s lunchtime and that could mean naptime. He is sitting with his back to the window at the table of four at which three are seated, where a friend to his right is being fed and a friend across from him is finished. My father’s lunch is set before him. On his plate, the small scoop of ground beef, the white hill of potato. The little red carton of milk. The paper cup of vanilla ice cream. The dish of pudding. I am a surprise with a spoon in my hand, and he smiles, cheerful and hungry, hungry as a man at his first

meal, so I pour his carton of milk into a clear plastic cup. Magnificent! he says after sipping. A little cup of artificial ice cream is Out of this world! Processed potato, Amazing!

Can I eat all of this? he asks, marveling at the feast.

Every bite is for you.

Oh, that’s wonderful, he says and he means it. What offering is next – in a paper cup of water, a single pink extravagance

I paid for at a store.


Peony, Copyright Kelly DuMar 2017, Published in Tree of the Apple, Two of Cups Press
All photos copyright Kelly DuMar 2017


Reading Aloud: How He Asks, From Tree of the Apple

Do you know how much your life matters?

Listen - I'm reading my poem, How He Asks, from Tree of the Apple, my new poetry and prose chapbook, published by Two of Cups Press

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My Writing Truth & Beauty Workshop for the IWWG, March 25, 2017 in Florida

A Day of Creative Writing by the Sea

March 25, 2017, Ponte Vedra, Florida

Women Writers - Greet spring by breathing new life into your writing at the Florida Fling! Please join the International Women's Writing Guild for our 2nd annual regional day-long writing conference in Florida for an opportunity to warm up, awaken, bloom, refresh, renew your words and your writer-woman self:

Florida Fling 2017

WHEN:  Saturday, March 25, 9:00 AM5:15 PM

WHERE:  Ponte Vedra, FL (north of St. Augustine)

FEATURING a book fair, open readings, a catered lunch, and two fruitful workshops:

Writing Truth & Beauty: Using Your Personal Photos for Creative Writing in Poetry & Prose  with Kelly DuMar

Making More of Memoir: Tools for Drawing Readers To and Into Your Nonfiction Writing  with Judy Huge

For the conference venue and schedule, workshop descriptions, presenter bios, a printable flyer, and REGISTRATION, click HERE.

Additional event information will be included in your registration-confirmation email, but if you have further questions, contact Marj at iwwgquestions@gmail.com.

Workshop Descriptions & Instructor Bios

Making More of Memoir: Tools for Drawing Readers To and Into Your Nonfiction Writing

This workshop provides both new and experienced writers with practical tools and personal advice for adding depth to your nonfiction writing: keys to building better bridges between yourself, your reader, and the world outside your door. Coaxing a “sympathetic resonance from the reader” is the difference between writing the stories people choose to read on airplanes and the ones that speak gently to the depths of the human spirit.

Judy Huge graduated cum laude from Goucher College,   where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and holds a master’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University. She is the founder of the Goucher (College) Teachers’ Institute, a graduate program focused on improving the teaching of writing. Her own consulting firm, Work/Write consulting, helps clients make a difference in the way they define, approach, and solve the communications and management challenges that are unique to their particular situations. Judy is the author of “A Middle-Aged Woman and the Sea,” a tale of memoir and transition published in Women in the Wild, as well as her own business column and travel articles for the Gannett newspaper chain. She is a contributing author to 101 Ways You Can Help: How to Offer Support and Comfort to Those Who Are Grieving. Judy is Board President of the IWWG.

Writing Truth & Beauty: Using Your Personal Photos for Creative Writing in Poetry & Prose

The photos we save and the photos we take show what we care about and hope to preserve, what moves and mystifies us, the people, places, stories and experiences that bring meaning into our lives. In this workshop, we’ll write creatively from personal photos that arrest our attention and unpack why they do. 

Kelly DuMar is a playwright and poet from the Boston  area whose recent workshop presentations include the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, the Power of Words Conference, True Story Theater, Berkshire Women Writers, Playback North America, and the New England Theatre   Conference. She is the author of a nonfiction book, Before You Forget: The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children, and won the Lit House Press Poetry Chapbook Award for All These Cures. Her newest poetry and prose chapbook, Tree of the Apple, has been published this year by Two of Cups Press. Kelly’s award-winning plays and monologues are produced around the U.S. and Canada. Her award-winning one-act play for youth, The Adventures of Rocky & Skye, was published by Youth Plays. Kelly is a past president of Playwrights’ Platform, Boston, where she led play development activities for many years. She founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College.      www.KellyDuMar.com

My Creative Non-Fiction Essay is Published at Literary Orphans

My personal essay, So Much Wishing & Packing at Christmas, about hosting my father and his partner, Sylvia, for a Christmas with Alzheimer's, is published in Literary Orphans journal.

So Much Wishing & Packing at Christmas by Kelly DuMar

My father arrives for Christmas with Sylvia, the widow of his best friend from childhood. In the year they both lost spouses they moved in together. Blissed out on the amorous effects of simultaneous dementia, they assume they’ve always been together. They delight in a never-ending present of a past they never shared.

Masking. A need to feign competence cements their bond. Sylvia solves the problem of ordering food she cannot name by saying, I’ll have whatever Dusty’s having. Dad solves the problem of missing items by endorsing Sylvia’s theory – thieves. While they’re out and while they sleep, burglars run off with Glen Miller cd’s, dad’s chain saw, tubes of toothpaste. Their amusements are simple. At night, they sit in the dark with flashlights on. Cuddled on the living room couch they create safe.

I need my father to have Christmas dinner with us, just as he always has. Sylvia is welcome. We had to sneak the car away from them after Sylvia’s daughter complained about their long days driving lost in New England. So, my husband picks them up at noon on Christmas Eve and drives them to our house with overnight bags.

From the couch in my living room after lunch, my father spontaneously shares a revelation. It’s strange. . . but I don’t know where I live anymore.

He no longer recognizes my home, in the town he lived in for fifty years. You live in Springfield, now, with Sylvia I say.

Is that right? I can’t picture it, he says, calmly. Sylvia breathes softly beside him.

Continue reading here. . . 

How How Pictures Heal - My Featured Blog for the Transformative Language Arts Assoc.

Special one-time sale! Been thinking about jumping in? Now's the time! Join Kelly next week!

Transformative Language Arts Network

Published by Teri Lynn · 22 hrs

Special weekend sale!! 20% off Kelly DuMar's profoundly healing course.

On March 1, 2017, my six-week online course, "How Pictures Heals," begins, sponsored by the Transformative Language Arts Network. Here's my article featured in the TLA blog about the healing process of writing from personal photos.


To continue reading go here

My Interview about Tree of the Apple is featured on the Carpe Noctem Blog


Poet Nicole Rollender, who edits the Carpe Noctem Blog, just interviewed me about my new chapbook of poetry and prose, Tree of the Apple. I really enjoyed answering her probing questions about what kind of world I was trying to create in shaping my chapbook and about how my poetry process works and much more. 

Here's an excerpt - I hope you'll read the interview here

What were you trying to achieve with your book?
I wanted to feel close to my father every day I was losing him to Alzheimer’s. Also, because he was smart and funny and brave and tender and hopeful and appreciative – and he fought back hard against losing what he loved, and I admired him for that even when it made caretaking scary and tough.
I wrote poetry as a way to understand what he was trying to tell us after he lost his words – his caretakers, friends, and loved ones. Also, his “wrong” words activated my poetic imagination with fresh, startling metaphors and point of view.


My New Chapbook, Tree of the Apple, is available for pre-order at Two of Cups Press!

Kelly DuMar's new poetry & prose chapbook, Tree of the Apple, is available for purchase now at Two of Cups Press


About Tree of the Apple Poetry & Prose, by Kelly DuMar

In this beautiful cycle of lamentations, Kelly DuMar follows her father through the wasteland of Alzheimer’s, tracking his failing mind with the faithfulness of a daughter and a poet. The sounds of the words as I say them, he watches, she writes, evoking the fathomless movements behind his eyes. Elsewhere, she lets him speak for himself as he gathers petals under a trellis: This is how you bend without tipping/This is how you kneel and lift a soft thing/up like a flake of cold that falls from a cloud/when it’s white all over. This is how you lose without breaking, says this book, so filled with that rare poetic sentiment: steadfast family love. At the end, all five siblings gathered around his bed, someone hits on the idea of reading David Copperfield out loud. …we take turns reading/to each other with the masterful passion of a/parent comforting a child to sleep at the end/of a day breaking. Keep this little book nearby, for its passion and its comfort, because nothing comforts like knowing you are accompanied in your sorrows. - Aimée Sands

Holiday Offer - 10% off My Online Course: How Pictures Heal

The Transformative Language Arts Association is offering a holiday discount on my upcoming online course - register by Dec. 31, 2017 to receive 10% off! Click here to go to the registration page - and feel free to contact me at kellydumar@kellydumar.com if you have any questions or concerns!