Writing it off

GVL / Courtesy - Kelsey may

Kelsey may

GVL / Courtesy – Kelsey may

Taylor Fussman

Getting published is a writer’s ultimate dream. For Grand Valley State University student Kelsey May, she’s achieved that dream and more by being nominated for a Pushcart Prize, a national literary award.

The Pushcart Prize accepts up to six nominations from small magazine and book editors throughout the world. These nominations can include poetry, short stories, essays, memoirs or stand-alone excerpts from novels.

May, a senior at GVSU majoring in writing with a minor in English, has been writing a long time, so getting nominated for the award is an honor for her, even though she did not make it to the final round of judging.

She knew she wanted become a writer when she was still in high school. While her main love was for poetry, she also has essay and nonfiction writing in her portfolio.

May said she started improving and becoming a stronger writer relatively recently in her career. She said this was partly due to beginning to read from poetry books every day.

“My biggest piece of advice to writers is to read,” May said.

She attributed her recent growth to some of the professors at GVSU that have had an impact on her writing abilities.

One of these professors is Brian Deyo, an English professor at GVSU, who had May in a class that introduces students to the fields of literary and critical theory.

“In all honesty, I feel as though the ideas we encounter and grapple with had a profound impact on Kelsey’s writing,” Deyo said. “(That) powerfully reflects her thinking, not to mention the way she feels about a range of pressing social and political issues.”

This impact can be seen in some of the projects May is currently involved in. May received a grant from GVSU to research sexual assault and domestic violence and to write a series of poems about these issues. The poetry series is called “The V-Card Series” and provides an accessible and non-threatening way to address these social concerns.

May’s involvement in projects like that have allowed her to continue on with her passion of writing as well as explore the topics important to her.

“Without a doubt, I believe Kelsey’s passionate commitment to the life of the imagination is what makes her the sort of writer she is,” Deyo said.

May was first published in May 2015 and has been published at least once a month since then.

“I get turned down probably nine times out of ten, but it’s all worth it for that one time,” she said.

Her work has appeared in publications such as the Maine Review, Damselfly and Paste Magazine, and is forthcoming in Barking Sycamores, Broken Plate and Pine Hills Review.

May plans to continue to raise awareness of various social and political issues with her passion for writing as she moves forward in her career.