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Kiesa Kay

poet, playwright, person

My Story


I'm a fifth generation Kansan, grew up in Gardner, Kansas, and graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.S. in journalism and an M.A. with honors in English. Inspired by time at Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers, I founded Oleander Cottage, a writing retreat in Montgaillard, France, where several writers found haven from 2004 to 2014. I wrote the first draft of my memoir, Tornado Alley, at the Cottage. Also I spent time in France researching a play about Camille Claudel, the sculptor. My plays include Love Makes a Home: The Life of Rebecca Boone, which has been presented in 15 venues in three states, including Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative at Lenoir Rhyne University, White Horse Black Mountain, and as a convocation for Berea College and the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center in Kentucky. My first public play and grant

recipient from the Fine Arts Guild of the Rockies, Thunder is the Mountain's Voice, was presented at Rocky Mountain National Park and Park Village Playhouse. 


My work as a nationally certified child forensic interviewer led to the creation of What Every Grandparent Needs to Know About Childhood Sexual Abuse, and I am a Darkness to Light Stewards of Children facilitator. My first anthology, Uniquely Gifted: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of the Twice Exceptional Student, united experts nationwide in the study of twice exceptionality. My second, High IQ Kids, co-edited with Deborah Robson and Judy Brenneman, received the Legacy Award as the Best Book for Parents and Educators in its publication year.

Elaine McAllister Dellinger joined me to create Images of America: Yancey County. 

Adventures at three intentional communities led to my novel, The Cicada Year.  My writing celebrates survival and reinforces resilience. I taught undergraduate English classes at the University of Kansas, and now lead writing workshops and provide mentorship to others who want to share their stories. Writing brings connections and comforts. I led a writing workshop for secondary trauma survivors at the Violence Intervention and Prevention Summit, and worked with the Forest Children to complete my friend Robin Carrington's children's book after she passed away. Now that my children have grown, there's time to play old time fiddle and psaltery, and to direct plays as well as write them. Writing interweaves the threads of this treasured life.



Victor Frankl said, "He who has a why to live can put up with almost any how."


My workshops will help you turn your life into words you can use and share. Whether you need individual support or want to join a community of writers or both, you will find sanctuary for your work here.

~Healing Art of Writing~

If you’ve never written a word but you know that your life deserves a voice, then this workshop is for you. If you’ve written for years but shown no one, this workshop is for you. If you’ve lived through trauma that needs to be told but you can’t find the right words, this workshop will help you find your way.

~Good Grief~

Transform your loss and sadness into something you can use to help others and yourself. We will go deep and surface here, using the trouble as the starting point for creating hope. It sounds impossible, but it works. In this workshop, you will learn to find your own core of strength, and you will rise. 

~From Rage to Stage~

Use the situations that have made us angry; write monologues, dialogues, and one-act plays that can be performed on stage. As a group, we will decide what form our performance art will take. 

~Poetry with a Purpose~

We will walk to a waterfall or along a nature trail together, then sit in shared silence to write together. 

~Daring Dreams~

What dream has not claimed you? What do you still want to do? In this workshop, we will focus on our dreams, both the ones we have while asleep and those that stay dormant inside us. We will explore the messages in our dreams and find our way forward. 

~Family Stories~

Every family has stories. For some of us, the story can be how we had no family at all. Others have stories handed down through generations. In this workshop, we will explore how to share our stories in groups both large and small. 

~Inner Child Play Day~

Let's spend a day in free form artistic expression. Through coloring, dancing, finger-painting, clay art, and laughter, we will have fun together and create work to enjoy. Make sure to wear clothes that can get messy. It's Play Day. 

~Empowering Poetry~

This workshop will be a time for sharing and reading poetry that empowers. The works will include poems by workshop participants and favorite poems that inspire our own creativity.

~Love Stories~
Write real love stories—about happy times that have set us free, what we've treasured most about our deepest, strongest loves. 




Do you need coaching and support to complete a long-loved project? Do you want feedback on your work, and help to craft your thoughts into something you can keep? Kiesa offers one-on-one writing support.





For more information about the workshops, dates, times, and locations, please contact me or visit Events.

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

A Tale of Two Charlies

Sherry Lovett and Larry Pearlman star in this play, directed by Kiesa Kay and written by Jo Carson. 

This play about family stories from the McKinneys and the Silvers was scheduled to occur March 28, 2020, at the Abbey, Burnsville, NC, and May 7, 2020, at the Orchard at Altapass, Spruce Pine, NC. Those performances have been cancelled as the venues are closed due to venue closure and need for social distancing.  

Red Barn Studios in Lindsborg, Kansas, will be the site of a writing residency May 20 to 30. Workshops and reception cancelled due to coronavirus. 

Lake Life

June 6, 2020 to July 6, 2020


This exhibit on five generations of family at Gardner Lake has been set for June 6, 2020 to July 6, 2020 at Gardner Area Historical Museum, with a reception on June 13. The museum is closed currently and it is uncertain whether it will be open this summer.

Contact Me

Contact Me

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