Poet, Playwright, Workshop Facilitator
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Kelly's News BLOG

My News - announcements, workshops, events & publications!

Kelly's News Blog

On Writing, Walking and My Awesome Experience at AWP18
Joy—that sharp, wonderful Stab of Longing—
— Kevin Ott, from "Shadowlands and Songs of Light: An Epic Journey Into Joy and Healing"

I fly away from Boston a day early to escape the oncoming winter whiteout to attend AWP18 (the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference, March 7-11, 2018). The first thing I love, on landing, is the location: tropical winter sun in Tampa, and the convention center’s water view and easy access to Tampa Bay. Which means, late afternoons, after sitting all day in artificially lit and cooled rooms, I can be outdoors under cloudless blue, breathing in miles of fresh air walking the Bayshore Boulevard sidewalk.

 Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa, Florida

Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa, Florida

Choosing among dozens of AWP panels, I’m most attracted to what my favorite poets have to say. And I’m sharing what I see and hear on social media  for the International Women's Writing Guild on  @wearewomenwriting, Instagram, and @IWWG on Twitter. One of the first panels I go to involves Aimee Nezhukumatathil on a panel, “Poetry, Myth and the Natural World." When she steps out from behind the podium to show us her glow-in-the-dark glitter skirt, I share a picture on @wearewomenwriting. She's wearing the fun skirt, she says, because “I never heard an Asian woman writer talk about joy before.” And she writes about joy, because, “joy is an act of resistance.”

   wearewomenwriting “Joy is an act of resistance” thank you for your  #poetry reading today at  #awp18  Aimee Nezhukumatathil  #womenwriters

wearewomenwriting“Joy is an act of resistance” thank you for your #poetryreading today at #awp18 Aimee Nezhukumatathil #womenwriters

. . . when I sit at my desk to write, there is a sense of urgency and a deeper sense of gratitude and celebration for this planet and its inhabitants. I know that my heartbeat is closer to the surface of my skin, so news about hate and violence affects me more than ever before, and I can’t help but feel sometimes that the only way I can push back against all this darkness in the world is to find ways to record instances of delight and beauty on this planet for my sons.
— Aimee Nezhukumatathil, from an interview on http://thejournalmag.org/archives/3827

Walking Bayshore, I wonder if I’ll be fantastically lucky and spot a dolphin in Hillsborough Bay. I don’t have an expectation, but I have a longing. Because seeing a wild dolphin suddenly breach is a quick, momentous splash of delight. And sadly, the last dolphin I saw on one of my daily walks was dead, washed ashore, an early August morning last summer on the beach of Vineyard Sound, Martha’s Vineyard. I wrote a short essay inspired by a picture I took of this dead dolphin, (recently published in Storm Cellar). Finding its beautiful, lifeless, body on the beach brought a stab of horror and grief – what I called “the enormity of lifeless.”

 Chilmark, Martha's Vineyard

Chilmark, Martha's Vineyard


The last afternoon of AWP18, I walk the long stretch of sidewalk, busy with bikes and strollers. The boulevard is famous for its length and stunning white balustrade edging the bay. Beside me, saltwater laps, calmly, against the white cement. Ahead, I notice a subtle rippling of water, something disturbing the surface from just below, and I hope and I wonder –

Earlier, during lunch this day, on a panel called “The Worst Writing Advice I Ever Got,” I listened to another favorite poet make a point of the importance of writing about joy. Ada Limón shared her own experience about giving herself permission: “I didn’t think you were allowed to write about joy,” she said. But she realized, “I can write whatever I want.”

There is an ancient Chinese Proverb that says, ‘A bird sings not because he has an answer, but because he has a song.’ That is how I have come to think about poetry—that a poem isn’t a problem to solve, but rather it’s a singular animal call that contains multiple layers of both mystery and joy.
— Ada Limón, from an article on https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2009/01/mystery-birds-5-ways-to-practice-poetry
   wearewomenwriting “I didn’t think you were allowed to write about joy,” poet Ada Limon on a panel bad advice for writers  #awp18  “I can write whatever I want”  #iwwgawp18   #womenwriters

wearewomenwriting“I didn’t think you were allowed to write about joy,” poet Ada Limon on a panel bad advice for writers #awp18 “I can write whatever I want” #iwwgawp18 #womenwriters

I catch sight of a fin, walk faster, chasing it. I’m already smiling, hoping for another surfacing, a better view. I see the dolphin breach – her, or him – ahead in the distance, then submerge in quick flashes, too quick to catch with my camera. When I’ve walked as far as I can for today, I turn around, heading back to the conference center.

[joy] has a lithe, muscular lightness to it. It’s deft. It produces longing that weighs heavy on the heart, but it does so with precision and coordination…
— Kevin Ott

I hear a loud splash beside me – but it's gone before I see it. Still, I scan the surface, see the rippling, hold my camera ready. There’s the dolphin! Next to the balustrade up ahead, breaching and swimming, and I catch only a flash of fin here and there. Until, suddenly, the dolphin is leaping up out of the water with its fresh catch in its jaws! and the fish, still alive, thrashing it's bright yellow fins.

  "[joy] dashes in with the agility of a hummingbird claiming its nectar from the flower, and then zips away." ~ Kevin Ott

"[joy] dashes in with the agility of a hummingbird claiming its nectar from the flower, and then zips away." ~ Kevin Ott

I’m struck and stunned by this moment of aesthetic awe – like experiencing a perfectly wrought, arresting image in a poem – and I realize, yes, a poem is like a dolphin, a dolphin is like a poem - as Ada says, "a singular animal call that contains multiple layers of both mystery and joy."

It pricks, then vanishes, leaving a wake of mystery and longing behind it.
— Kevin Ott

– leaving, yes, but not only a wake of mystery and longing. A moment that leaves me with a fresh image to write from:

Dolphin, alive and thriving; fish, alive and thrashing.



All photos and text copyright Kelly DuMar 2018 unless otherwise attributed

A Visit to Jardin de Balata, Martinique
 Thanks to my friend, Karin Stanley, for taking this photo of me during our visit

Thanks to my friend, Karin Stanley, for taking this photo of me during our visit

A slideshow of my visit to Le Jardin de Balata, Fort-de-France, Martinique

Usually, I'm afraid of heights. I'm not a fan of crossing bridges. When I was a child I would crouch on the backseat of the car if we needed to cross a high one on a family trip. The first terror I remember, a drive from Maine to Cape Breton Island along the Cabot trail.

As an adult, I've learned to keep my eyes entirely open crossing the Bourne Bridge to get to Cape Cod. But, even ten to fifteen years ago, on trips to New Mexico and Corsica with my young children, I ducked my head and trembled and moaned with misery driving on the edges of cliffs on skinny, mountainous roads. But, On Monday, March 26, 2018, when we visited the the Jardin de Balata in Martinique, it was the Robinson Crusoe-like hanging bridge in the mahogany trees, La Balade Dans Les Arbres – "A unique walk to the top of a Botanical Garden" – that gave me the most thrilling, satisfying experience of my Caribbean island stay. I was eager to climb and circle the garden from above, and thoroughly enjoyed bouncing along, stopping to appreciate stunning views of the garden, the sea, the mountains, the sky.

We visited the famed garden on a warm, overcast, sometimes rainy day, very pleasant under the lush, exquisitely planned garden. Once or twice we ran under shelters to stay dry during a downpour.  

All paradises are gardens, thus it is not surprising that the magic of the place feeds the visitors with unexpected feelings.

Once upon the year 1982, Jean-Philippe Thoze, horticulturist, landscape designer and poet comes back on the trail of his childhood, in the Creole house of his grandparents. From then was born his passion for botanicals which will lead him worldwide.
The Garden built around this typical creole house is the result of a perfect alchemy between a «back-to-childhood» experience and a one-of-a-kind artist.
— Le Jardin de Balata

Here is a slideshow, pictures in no particular order, of my favorite sights in the garden. Not pictured here, the way I felt –my skin, my spirit, cleansed, refreshed, hopeful, and the tremendous awe I felt at the way plants and trees share the comfort and strength, breathtaking beauty, the zest and joy of their existence.

All photos and text copyright Kelly DuMar 2018, unless otherwise attributed

My Nonfiction, Hybrid piece published is in Storm Cellar - Death, Sex, Celebrity: My Vacation Status

My flash, hybrid lit piece,"Death, Sex, Celebrity: My Vacation Status," inspired by three original photos I took last summer on Martha's Vineyard, is published today by StormCellar literary magazine. It's composed of three faux "Facebook status" updates inspired by the real life photos I took on the remote beach in Chilmark on #mydailywalks last summer. My story features a real dead dolphin, a real clay penis, and an imaginary encounter with an ex-president. I hope you'll have a look. Details about how to purchase the issue follow.

 Excerpt from Storm Cellar 2018

Excerpt from Storm Cellar 2018


Print copies are available here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/595464377 and ebooks are available here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/581660816


StormCellar is a nationally distributed, independent, literary arts magazine rooted in the Midwest, a journal of safety and danger in many senses since 2011. More details at stormcellarquarterly.com/about.

Poetry, Politics & The Power of Change - My Interview with Yun Wei
Yun Wei recording graphic.jpg
Making the female perspective the universal perspective.

This is Yun Wei’s answer to the question “What will women bring to poetry/fiction in the next few decades?”

On Tuesday, February 6, Kelly DuMar, our Digital Village Chair and Social Media Coordinator, interviewed poet and fiction writer Yun Wei in our Member Book Spotlight.

If you missed this graceful conversation, you can watch it HERE.

Yun and Kelly discussed poetry, politics, and the promise of change. If you want to get your singular female perspective out into the world, check out these journals (list provided by Yun, compiled by Rattle’s “Poets Respond” team) that publish “news” poems:
— Marj Hahne, IWWG
Mystery Shopper in Memory Care - Poem for Today

This morning I took a picture on the ice covered brook of this beautifully aged leaf. It inspired me to make and share this audio recording of a short poem I wrote for my father in memory care. It was first published in Foliate Oak in 2014 and then on the Alzheimer's Support website where you can read it now as you listen.

Georgia O'Keeffe: A Slideshow of My Visit to her Abiquiu Home; A Visit to the current Peabody Essex Museum Exhibit & A Cultivating Place Podcast About Georgia O'Keefe's Garden
my photo of Georgia O'Keeffe's Blue #2 on exhibit at Peabody Essex Museum in Salem

Yesterday, I toured the O'Keeffe exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA: Georgia O'Keeffe: Art, Image Style (through April 2018). In early November, I toured the garden and home of O'Keeffe in Abiquiu (here is the slideshow of my pictures of her home).

So, today, I found the perfect podcast to listen to two days before New Year's day: Cultivating Place: A New Year Vision - The Abiquiu, New Mexico Garden of Georgia O'Keeffe - bringing together three completely satisfying and exceptional experiences of cultivating place in nature and art. I'm delighted to share them with you - and hope the exhibit, the slideshow of my visit to her Abiquiu garden and home, and the Cultivating Place podcast will inspire and delight you as well!

Copy of My Visit to Georgia O'Keeffe's Home & Studio, Abiquiú - A Slideshow

On my recent trip to New Mexico, I spent a warm autumn day visiting Abiquiú, where I had a tour of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe's home, garden and studio. It just happened to be October 31, Day of the Dead. The cottonwoods were a gorgeous gold.

Photographs are allowed outside the property, but not in the interior. This slideshow is of my experience in the home she created from the buildings and land she lived in from 1945-1984.

All photos copyright Kelly DuMar 2017

Places of Origin & Her Loaf, Half Baked Published in Crab Fat Literary Magazine

Two of my short prose pieces about childhood memories of grandparents, imperfect and un-charming, Places of Origin and Her Loaf, Half-Baked, are published in the December issue of Crab Fat. You can read both pieces online here.

They let you eat cake on White Pond Road

. . . I make trip after trip across the piazza in front of all the mothers and fathers and grandparents, helping myself, plating slab after slab in my hand, to the yard, melting every leftover rose on my tongue, caring so much for a cake everyone has forgotten, I feel queasy and crawl with my ache, my rose blue lips, onto my mother’s lap. . .
— http://www.crabfat.com/article/kellydumar
My Visit to Georgia O'Keeffe's Home & Studio, Abiquiú - A Slideshow

On my recent trip to New Mexico, I spent a warm autumn day visiting Abiquiú, where I had a tour of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe's home, garden and studio. It just happened to be October 31, Day of the Dead. The cottonwoods were a gorgeous gold.

Photographs are allowed outside the property, but not in the interior. This slideshow is of my experience in the home she created from the buildings and land she lived in from 1945-1984.

All photos copyright Kelly DuMar 2017

My Photo Inspired Poem, A Portal Nearing Sixty, is published in Remembered Arts

There is nothing more vulnerable

or vigorous

than a woman coming of age.

Inspired by the journal's fall theme of "frailty," my poem with original photographs, A Portal Nearing Sixty is published by The Remembered Arts Journal. To read the poem, go here.

My Photo is Published in 3Elements Review


I have a photo published in this issue of 3Elements Literary Review, and I hope you'll be inspired to write from the prompt I'm offering (below) after taking a look at the photo. 

This is the second time I've had photography featured in this theme-based literary journal, and I really like their concept. Every quarter they invite submissions of poetry, prose, fiction, photos and art - inspired by one or all of the 3 elements they choose for that quarter. The idea is that the elements inspire new creative works, or breathe new life into already existing ones. 

When I saw their call on the elements of Peppermint, Breach and Scale, I searched #mydailywalk photos for one that might fit. I found a favorite picture I'd taken on a long walk along the Atlantic coast of Florida between St. Augustine and Daytona beaches when I was presenting at a writing conference for the International Women's Writing Guild last March. The heroic potential of the bright red (empty) chairs, standing in a line down the sandy beach awakened my imagination. And, this photo seemed to fit the element of "scale."  

I used the photo as a writing prompt for a class I was teaching, "How Photos Heal," that inspired some powerful writing for my students when I suggested they imagine who, or what, was in the empty chair. After you have a look at my photo on page 15 in 3Elements Literary Review, here's the prompt you can write from:
Empty Chair Writing Prompt: 

Who’s in your chair?
This is a picture of a bold and awesome chair – heroically poised with a singular purpose: Safety & Rescue.
The Empty Chair Technique in psychodrama (and Gestalt therapy), is when a director asks a protagonist to speak/address someone (or something) AS IF (surplus reality) she/he/it is sitting in the chair, in real time.
For this prompt, I invite you to imagine or address a real LIFEGUARD/LIFESAVER in your life who is sitting in this chair. Write as if you are speaking directly to this LIFESAVER, whoever she or he may be. Alternatively, you may write FROM the empty chair, in the role of the LIFESAVER or LIFEGUARD, as if she or he or “it” is addressing you, in the first person, here and now.

And, consider submitting your writing or art for their next issue, with the three elements:

You can submit to 3ELEMENTS LITERARY REVIEW here

Delusion Blueprint Fisherman
Due October 31, 2017, for winter issue, no. 18. 

All photos and text copyright Kelly DuMar 2017

Announcing the 11th Annual Our Voices Festival, Sept. 24, 2017 at Wellesley College

The 11th Annual Our Voices Festival of Boston Area Women Playwrights will take place September 24, 2017 6:30 p.m. at Wellesley College in the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, Alumnae Hall. This FREE event is open to the public, and we hope you'll join us to support new writing by Boston area women playwrights. 

 Some of the Playwrights from the 2016 Our Voices Festival

Some of the Playwrights from the 2016 Our Voices Festival

We start with a reception (refreshments) at 6:30 p.m., and doors open at 6:50, and seats are first come first served. The new plays and monologues will feature the talents of some of Boston's best actors and directors performing new plays by:

Anne Marilyn Lucas    My Husband’s Keeper
Zahra A. Belyea   An Editorial
Sue Huggans  The Way Out
Phyllis Rittner Nobody’s Sweetie
Alicia Olivo Flood
Kathleen Miller Blue Socks
Lida McGirr   A House Divided
Andrea Fleck Clardy LISTEN UP!
Hortense Gerardo Virtuous Reality
Kelly, Franci & Perri DuMar Run Aways 

(Please note: Not in order of lineup)

Our Voices Mission: Our Voices aims to nourish Boston area women playwrights by providing a supportive, inspirational setting for developing our unique voices and sharing our vision by presenting plays and monologues in process with talented actors and directors in front of an audience. Over the past eleven years Our Voices has supported over 150 women writers to develop work for the stage. The festival is supported by the generosity of Nora Hussey and the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, Wellesley College.

Preceding the evening of staged readings, an all-day development workshop for selected playwrights to share works in progress for discussion, features:

Daytime Reading Assignments:

12:00 Mickey Coburn The Left Bower

12:30 Fabiola Decius  Draped in History

1:00   Cass von Braun The Legend of Will o’ the Wisp

1:30   Amy Ostreicher   I’ll Tell You a Story

2:00   Carole Frohlich   Double Jeopardy

2:30   Elise Griffin   A Presidency

3:00   Geralyn Horton   Vice Presidential

3:30   Ann Marie Shea  At Your Service

4:00   Rosie Rosenzweig, A Ghost

For more information, contact founder and producer Kelly DuMar (KellyDuMar@gmail.com) or call her at 508.647.0596.

Wellesley College is located at 106 Central Street, Wellesley, MA. The Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre is in the basement of Alumnae Hall, which is wheelchair accessible. There is free parking in the garage across from Alumnae Hall.

Directions Link:  https://www.wellesley.edu/sites/default/files/assets/departments/slater/files/incoming/campus_map.pdf

My Poem is Featured in Mass. Poetry's Poem of the Moment today

I'm pleased and honored that my poem, "How He Asks," is featured as the Poem of the Moment by Mass. Poetry today! This is one of the poems from Tree of the Apple, my recent chapbook inspired by my father's Alzheimer's, published by Two of Cups Press. Hope you'll have a look!

Kelly DuMar: How He Asks

Where did you come from? By this I mean what fills
your days and how did you lose me, I mean when did
I leave you and how did you find me somewhere?
Let’s go back to the beginning.

How did you get here? By this I mean tell me
how I brought you into this world and what are you
— . . .

Continue reading here

  Available at  Two of Cups Press

Available at Two of Cups Press

Your Memoir as Monologue TLA Blog about my upcoming class

Your Memoir as Monologue – How to Create Dynamic Dramatic Monologues About Healing and Transformation for Performance


Kelly DuMar is teaching the six-week online class “Your Memoir as Monologue” starting September 6, 2017. She’s a poet, playwright and expressive arts workshop facilitator who has been a leader of new play development in the Boston area for over fifteen years. She founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 11th year.

What inspired you to teach this class?

I love monologues. Listening to them, helping others write them, and writing them myself. First person narratives are gripping invitations to audiences, particularly when they present a dramatic journey, and moments of survival of someone – a person, a character – who has enlisted my compassion and concern.

Don’t you love the invitation to enchantment? The theatre, darkened, the stage lit.
Whether I’m in the audience or the playwright, I’m involved and transported by possibility. The theatrical question, What if. . . is an invitation to be enlightened, and changed through storytelling.

I love helping writers tell powerful stories on the stage – particularly those whose voices
and stories have been unheard, silenced, trivialized or marginalized. Eleven years ago, I founded a play festival, Our Voices, for new and experienced women playwrights to have a uniquely supportive place to develop their stories for the stage. Our Voices is an all day play lab that has supported nearly 150 women playwrights to develop plays with actors and directors. I love how one participant last year describes her experience in Our Voices, because she nails why writing monologues based on life experience can be so validating:

“Writing is my solace and joy, coming to me in bursts of laughter or darkness.  I have stories to tell yet, at times, I shrink from sharing, doubting my own voice.  Through more workshops and conversation, I hope to strengthen that confidence in my point of view and reinvigorate the process to write the things I don’t yet dare to consider.”

How is writing for the page different from writing for the stage?

Collaboration with other artists is illuminating, joyful, and challenging – and writing for the stage requires it. Sitting day to day at one’s desk can be lonely. But writing for the stage invites us into a theatre – a rehearsal, into a relationship with actors, directors, and audiences. Here’s what an Our Voices participant shared about writing for the stage:

“One of the things I love most about writing plays is the possibility of witnessing one’s words and dramatic vision come alive on stage.”

Writing monologues for the stage makes the healing power of writing visible, visceral and accessible – not just for the playwright, but the audience as well. People are so amazingly resilient! Writing monologues for the stage is a natural way to find out how resilient you are – and sharing what you write inspires other people to feel hopeful and resilient.

What are some of your favorite dramatic monologues? 

My favorite is definitely Emily Webb’s “Goodbye,” monologue in Thornton Wilder’s classic play, Our Town. What moves me in a dramatic monologue is when a character goes on a compelling emotional journey and takes me with her – she begins in one place and ends in another – she’s more awakened, and so am I. Watch these Youtube videos of two different performances of the Emily Webb role – the first is from a movie:


Here’s the same monologue in a recording of a stage performance:


What can students in this class expect?

We need spaces where we can give ourselves permission to un-silence our deepest truths and most authentic self. In Memoir as Monologue, I facilitate a safe, supportive, healing environment for writers to tap into their deep feelings and beliefs and find the courage and skill to share them for personal growth and craft them for performance. Participants can expect to express ordinary and extraordinary life experiences, and feelings and construct powerful, dramatic stories with universal appeal.

 Kelly DuMar, M.Ed., C.P., is a poet, playwright and expressive arts workshop facilitator who has been a leader of new play development in the Boston area for over fifteen years. Kelly founded and produces the Our Voices Festival of Women Playwrights at Wellesley College, now in its 11th year, and she teaches playwriting at the International Women’s Writing Guild. Kelly’s award-winning plays have been produced around the US and Canada, and are published by Brooklyn,HeuerYouth Plays, and Smith & Kraus Audition Anthologies. She’s author of a non-fiction book, Before You Forget: The Wisdom of Writing Diaries for Your Children, and two poetry and prose chapbooks, All These Cures and Tree of the Apple.She’s a certified psychodramatist and a playback theatre artist. Kelly is honored to serve on the board of The International Women’s Writing Guild and the TLAN Council, and she moderates SPARKS: a bi-monthly teleconference where she interviews a notable TLA practitioner and leads an open mic. You can learn more at kellydumar.com

Praise for Kelly’s Monologue & Playwriting Workshops

“Memoir as Monologue taught me the power of my own story. Kelly’s guidance on creating effective drama, her concrete feedback on improving my work, the nurturing environment she created for participants and the excellent resources she brought to the table opened a whole new world for me. This was one of the most effective online classes I’ve taken.”

“Kelly provided excellent resources, offered valuable, timely feedback, sought our feedback as the course progressed and created a nurturing atmosphere. The opportunity to both write and hone monologues and then hear our work performed by a professional actress exceeded my expectations of the class. I learned the freedom monologues offer in contrast to writing.”

“[I learned] better ways to approach monologue than the ways I’d been trying; liked that I cracked open a tough nut of a story in a new way, identifying the core problem Narrator needed to solve (which was different from the problem she was trying to solve).”

“Thank you so much for guiding us all into a most wondrous experience . . . and your attentive intelligence in keeping us on track and focused as each shared and bared depths.”

“Your class was awesome, inspiring and so very insightful. What gifts you bring and give. Thank you!”

“Your memoir-to-monologue class has inspired a whole new project. Thank you. And thanks to my classmates. I learned so much from each of you.”

“Thank you for creating such a collaborative atmosphere of mutual support.”

My Martha's Vineyard Photos are Featured in Follow Summer Blog
 Gregory George's Blog

Gregory George's Blog

The 25 Best Things to Do on Martha’s Vineyard

The season may be waning

but summer memories of  The Vineyard still warm and welcome our late August memories. Primarily known as a summer colony, and only accessible by boat or air, Martha's Vineyard still charms with end of summer pristine beaches, bright gingerbread cottages, over flowing farmers markets and sun-setting lighthouses. Stay 'On Island' with these followsummer recommendations and enjoy these last remaining kisses of summer on Martha's Vineyard.

Read more here

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!

Want my monthly newsletter in your e-mail? Subscribe here!
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