Poet. Author. Creative writer. Story teller.
I'm a Vancouver Island poet, creative writer and novelist in the making. While you will find the occasional poem here about how awesome dogs, beaches or the white picket fences of my childhood are, I'm mostly passionate about creating literary works that deeply explore and navigate the many social developments our society is facing today, in hopes of connecting with others. Whether I'm writing about anxiety, depression, addiction, women's health concerns, eating disorders or finding solace from all that in the higher power that is love, nature, and gratitude, my mantra is this: I will come by it all as honestly as I can. When I sit down to create something, my first intention is never to provoke, retaliate or persuade. It is to bare my heart - to move it as effectively as I can, from my sleeve to the paper. You won't find a lot of heavy metaphors or hidden messages in my writing. I tend to air on the side of just saying it how it is, with a creative flare of course. I used to dislike that about my own work - how my best pieces pour fast and hard onto the page, undisguised, and then leave me feeling so exposed and...unpolite. Perhaps that's one of the reasons it has taken me five years since I last blogged to put myself back out here again. It is because of strong, self-made poets like Rupi Kaur, and a recent personal life threatening experience, that I have finally decided to fully embrace my calling again, and plan to take it to entirely new heights! How you interpret and connect to what I have written is up to you, Dear Reader; but I hope my words find you well and I thank you so very much for being here! Welcome to my little corner of the web!!
Photographer: Gloria Bell @
More on My Story
I grew up in the place where I currently live: the City of Nanaimo; the youngest sibling of three. At school, I was usually the shy kid and I wasn't exceedingly academic in most subjects. From early on, however, it was clear that I had a wild imagination, probably contributed to by the fact that my older sister, Kristy, had been reading me stories pretty much since my birth. If we weren't reading or watching movies together, we were playing make believe with the other kids in the neighborhood and had a rep for coming up with the most fun games, whether it was pretending our attic was really a classroom at Hogwarts, playing detective, or building a hideout from pirates at the end of our street, where the blacktop turned to dust. Back then, in our own world, the possibilities of creation were endless. By the age of six, I had so many thoughts and imaginative ideas constantly turning circles in my head that I started to write them into stories anywhere I could; in the car on road trips, in the outfield when I was supposed to be playing softball, during any free moment I could catch at school, and in the dead of night when I'd suddenly bolt upright, my fingers scrambling to switch my lamp on and tear into the drawer of my bedside table, in search of pen and paper. "Kailey is a natural story teller," my grade one teacher told my mom at a parent/teacher meeting once. That's my first clear memory of feeling extremely proud of myself, and that feeling charted the course my dreams would take, as far as they'd let me into my future.
By grade six, I was writing my first novel - a fantasy/adventure tale taking place in a magical kingdom. I always loved all things mythical and mysterious and that story quickly became my greatest obsession. Anything that tore me away from it felt like a bit of a nuisance, and that started to create some problems since, as a student, you must be able to promptly switch tasks. There were many times when my gift started to feel more like a burden and I tried to swear off of writing a few times just so I could reclaim some head space for pursuing other things. There is more to life than books, after all. However, it seemed the harder I tried to lay my inner fairytales to rest, the more real, and demanding, they became. I still will often refer to the characters I've created for my stories as my imaginary friends - needy ones who tap on the inside of my skull when not given enough attention. It is as if they are asking, Why haven't you told my story yet? And I have to remind them to await patiently their turn.
Over the years, I've asked them to become too patient, perhaps. I struggled with my mental health through most of my youth and had a hard time committing to large, time consuming projects. I also suffered from extremely low self esteem which put me at constant war with myself and arranging my priorities. I ultimately made the subconscious decision to put my novel-writing on the back burner, but I could never throw down the pen completely. I tried my hand at song lyric writing for a bit which soon turned into a memorization with free verse poetry, since I have a poor singing voice.
I started to share my poetry on a blog after I graduated from high school in 2012, but it received relatively low traffic and I wasn't exactly advertising myself as a poet for fear of having my novice work ridiculed. I had a boyfriend who I wanted to live with at the time and decided to go to university to become a Certified Dental Assistant, something I considered a sensible career choice. I received my certification in 2013, found a job, and didn't give my post secondary education much more thought until three years later. In the fall of 2016, at 22 years old, I decided I wanted to give the little voices in my head, which had followed me everywhere since childhood, the serious attention they deserved. "What?" I asked of them each day as the incessant skull tapping grew louder. "What is it that you need?"
You haven't told our story yet, they replied.
"So?" I snipped at them. I was bothered. Annoyed. I'd been busy after all. Busy building a career, busy tending to relationships, busy working around the house and busy adopting and loving on various animals. "What makes you think your story is so important?"
Silence. It would take me awhile to think on that. What does make telling stories so important? I initially came up with several intriguing answers but none that triumphed higher over this one, and it's the same answer I usually find when looking for meaning in anything: Love. I loved it. Plain and simple, I wanted to be writing. So, I figured I should do that but, first, I had two problems I needed to overcome. The most pressing one was that I wasn't sure if I was any good at writing. I mean, I knew I could put words together in an appealing way on paper, but what I didn't know was whether or not I had anything important to say. Other than my sister and my parents, I had been my only real critic. For that reason, taking writing classes seemed like a good place to set a little fire under my passion, which inevitably led to my second problem. Money. I wasn't broke but I was basically in a pay-cheque-to-pay-cheque situation to keep my living environment comfortable. So, maybe it wasn't the moment to jump in full time and aim for a bachelor degree. But I could take a small, insignificant loan out and take one evening class a week. I started with Intro the Poetry. It was the best decision of my life.
Not only did I get to spend those precious evenings in a classroom with people who all shared
the same interest as me, but I got to explore and test my poetry skills in a way I'd never done
before. So, it wasn't all about trying to be a modern Shakespeare after all. There was a real
market for free verse writers like me, but it was still fun trying out different poetry formats and
realizing I was able to step up to any writing assignment challenge - enthusiastically at last!
Suddenly the kid who rarely spoke up and was generally seen as unacademic, was a woman
who maybe should have considered throwing her hand in the air a little less. But I couldn't help
it. When it came to writing classes, I was a total Hermione Granger. My instructor, Dr. Sonnet
L'Abbé, gave me awesome grades on almost everything I handed in and I got to meet Patrick
Lane once, who gave me some treasured advice: "There will only ever be one Kailey. Only you
can write in your voice, so don’t ever try to change it." I might be paraphrasing, but I'll never
forget that. After his reading, I literally skipped down the school's steps all the way to my car.
I'm not the sort of person who skips. It was nighttime, I'd spent all day searching used book
stores for a copy of his novel, 'Red Dog Red Dog', he'd signed it and then said the words I needed to hear most. The stars had never looked so bright or more beautiful.
Perhaps the most actively transformative part of that year was meeting Naomi Waken. She was still the Inaugural Poet Laureate of Nanaimo at that time and she told me the city was looking for its first Youth Poet Laureate. I entered several of Naomi's writing contests such as the "Poetry in Transit" initiative and she later recommended me for the Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate position. I got it, accepted it and did my best to fulfill what the role had to offer for a two year term: 2017-2018. It was amazing to me, to be believed in by someone who wasn't motivated by being my friend or family, and the feeling I had every time I overcame my social anxiety to read my work aloud on stage or in front of a class was so empowering. I mean, yes, I was usually up there with my cheeks burning red hot and I didn't exactly perform my poetry like the more experienced poets did. But I got up there. Pushed away every doubt in my mind that I didn't belong with the "real artists" and seized my moment, over and over and over again.
Flash forward to my life now. It's been a startling three years since my Youth Poet Laureate days. I continued with my creative writing classes one subject at a time for as long as I could until my financial resources officially ran dry. That wasn't helped by the fact that all those animals I was rescuing kept getting sick and passing away. My mental health took a real turn for the worst when my husband and I lost our first and only pregnancy. It was an ectopic pregnancy so my right fallopian tube was gone as well and I had this horrible, unshakable feeling of "now what?" for the next five months until...I finally realized I was ready to write again. Because that's what I do. It just is.
So, that's where this website begins - where the means to define myself in some other way reached an expiry point. No, that doesn't mean I can't see myself as anything other than a writer. I am many things, including a writer. It's just that my recent experience reconfirmed that this isn't just a hobby to me. It's a way of life. Knowing and using this artform may have actually saved my life, or at least led me back to it. I can't think of a better reason to keep doing something except, perhaps, love, as I mentioned before.
If you've stuck with me this far, Dear Reader, you're a trooper. Thank you for spending your precious time on my heartfelt ramblings. I hope you'll click over to the Blog section of this website and take a gander at what I've been up to for the last five years. I'll be posting new stuff biweekly; that is, if I can keep the writer's block at bay. It's becoming less tricky to manage as I get older and braver, I find. There is more and more to life that feels poetically relevant and the most irrelevant thing of all is becoming my former position on holding so much back. I do still believe in the subtle art that is choosing words carefully, just not so much in self-monitoring what inspires them. See for yourself and tell me what you think! Believe me, I know there is plenty of room for improvement; and improve, I shall.
“A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”
― Stephen King