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Samantha Malay Young Poet's Scholarship & Kansas City Poetry Jam

Flying Ketchup Press exists to help writers catch up. We were established in 2018 by poet and artist Polly McCann to champion new voices in poetry and short story. Our dream, to share worlds of wonder and delight; making room for personal narrative that empowers, heals, and unites diverse audiences. To share your story.

This month, we have news about a new solo poetry collection by a teen author, and it's time to save your seat now at our upcoming micro-festival for regional poets: The Kansas City Poetry Jam.

The author, Lily Chesgreen, is shown in a black dress and black combat boots. They sit on a cut log in a sunny forest glen of ivy.  The photo is black and white. The author has their hands crossed placed over one knee and is smiling with.

Congratulations to Lily Chesgreen, the recipient of our first Samantha Malay Editorial Scholarship to have a young adult artist create a solo poetry collection, "Kismit." We think you'll love it for its hand-drawn illustrations and its beyond-quotidian Neruda-style questions that will make any poet sit back and ask for more. This was an editorial mentorship through the process of organizing, editing, and publishing a book of poetry. Lily sorted through hundreds of pages of poems to curate a first edition about the poetic life: a life where "You could dedicate your whole life to a melody that only you may ever understand." In "Thunder has a Soul," they write, "When we start to fear lightning, we forget the life dependent on those storms." Designed by artist Kevin Callahan, the poems read as an lyrical journal, a book of questions.

Kismet is Lily’s first published collection, but their poetry has appeared in multiple anthologies. They are a junior at Notre Dame Preparatory School in Baltimore, Maryland. When Lily is not writing, they can be found painting, acting on stage, or playing with their dog, Penny.

Here's a note from Lily:

The cover of "Kismet" the poetry book is green and black with white line drawings. The drawings suggest a candle with smoke and a butterfly in an art deco style.

Becoming a published author is a dream I have always had. I am inevitably the person at a party with a book instead of socializing, or the one asking if anyone has a pen so I can write down an idea. If you had asked me a few years ago if I thought I could have a published book before college, I would have said that it was nothing more than a dream.

I've learned through writing though that nothing is truly impossible if you love what you are trying to do. I wanted to create something that not only was a reflection of my own experiences and thoughts but that others could relate with. I find so much joy in writing, and I wanted to share that joy with others.

"Kismet" started as a much different collection on the outside, but I feel both drafts have the same soul. The first version of the book was over a hundred pages and even had a different title. With Kismet, I feel as if I got to the bottom of why I was writing the book in the first place. Kismet is about finding strength in your own being – about enjoying a melody you've created even if no one else understands it. It's about passion and acknowledging the beauty of every living thing.

Publishing this book has taught me a lot, but the most important thing I've learned is to always have faith in your own ideas. I would always overthink my poetry, like I do with most things in life, but poetry is meant to be a raw expression of your own mind and creativity. Therefore, there is no such thing as "bad" art or “wrong” poetry. Every poem you read or piece of art you see is a perspective of the world you have not witnessed yet, and that is a beautiful experience. I hope people can see "Kismet" as a book of not only questions and thoughts but of perspectives they can relate with. I hope you enjoy!

Thanks, Lily. This is great advice for those who want to share their poetry. And for more news below...

A 70s Record Jive style illustration with drippy red jam. A cute little jar with wings has a label which reads "poetry JAM" and the text says September 30th 11 am to 5 pm. The colors are vintage white, red, yellow and teal.

Kansas City Poetry Jam: We Need You!

When & Where:

September 30th from 11 am to 5 pm. And grassroots open mics throughout the weekend.

We are so glad to the folks at Englewood Art Center for hosting us. Our location, Englewood Arts. 10901 E Winner Rd, Independence, MO 64052. The venue is located in the up and coming Englewood Arts district on the east side of KC. It has a small stage with theater, conference seating and tables, a classroom, outdoor gathering space, and meeting areas. This is an accessible space.

Please get your ticket to the Kansas City Poetry Jam! A one-day micro-festival for all those on the poetic spectrum: readers, writers, teachers, students, performers, editors, and publishers of poetry. If you love poetry, join us for our first annual event. Poets should stick together, let's jam! So many of us enjoyed past festivals and want to return to a space where our many unique groups and sub genres of poetry can reconnect, network and enjoy the artistry. Ticket sales go to paying a stipend to our teaching artists, guest speakers, panel discussion guests, and open mic emcees, as well as coffee, tea and munchies for hungry poets.

What's on the schedule?

Featured Readings by Kansas Poet Laureate, Traci Brimhall and celebrated Missouri Poet, Justin Hamm. Spend time networking with other poets during a bring your own sack lunch and book sale & author signing. Enjoy a panel discussion of authors and editors on “Poetry, Publishing, & New Technologies.”

Experience Workshops from Six Teaching Artists:

Traci Brimhall: "Memory Feast" Explore connections Between Food, Memory & Language
Nettie Zan: "Press Play" Kinetics to Release Unconscious Creativity
Tyrone "Inkwell" Gethers Jr: "From the Wells of the Mind": Beginning Poetry for Beginning Writers
Lisa Allen: "Two Ears, One Mouth" Listening at the 'Side Door' Prompts
Jamie Lynn Heller: "Unbreakable" LineBreaks & other Pauses
Waco Porter: "Total Eclipse" Rhythm, Rest & Renewal

Sponsors: We are still seeking sponsors and volunteers. Begun by Flying Ketchup Press as an outreach to make room for regional writers, Ketchupedia's mission is to provide annual mentorships, publications, workshops, and open mics. This festival has grown out of our annual editorial mentorship. This year Mary Silwance helped inspire us to do more than a few workshops but truly bring people together. Our goal is not only to reconnect but to reach out to new poets, those interested in poetry, and those writers still looking for a writing community in our region. We need volunteers and open emcees to help make for a smooth Poetry Jam experience. Sign up here:

What about the Open Mics?

The event will be followed by five individually sponsored open mics and readings in the Kansas City area that weekend to bring poetry out into the community for a "poet-tree" effect. It won't be just our regular meet-ups and slams. We're looking for new and unusual venues to reach new audiences and new undiscovered poets with poetry readings and spoken word. Contact us to volunteer. All open mic sign-ups to read your work will be in person, first-come-first-serve at each individual location, and will be run by individual poets. A list of open mics will be posted on our website, at the KC Poetry Jam Fest, and on our social media pages. Thanks!

What if you want to sell books?

If you're interested in bringing your books to sell at The Kansas City Poetry Jam, we will have an attendant near the book tables to collect money or direct digital payments directly to you. You may bring up to three titles, and we won't take a cut or charge a booth fee. Fill out this bookseller form, and we'll send you bookseller info.

Tickets & Questions?

Tickets are $39 each, and proceeds go to our featured Poetry Jam readers, teachers, panelists, and emcees. Contact Polly Alice McCann, managing editor of Flying Ketchup Press, or Mary Silwance, Poetry Editor. Find more FAQ's on our ticket page. Click the button below to reserve your seat now! Tickets are limited.



The Kansas Poet Laureate is pictured in a library signing books with a smile on her face. She wears a black lace long sleeved top. She has curled shoulder length hair and brown eyes.

Traci Brimhall is the author of four collections of poetry, as well as her forthcoming book Love Prodigal (Copper Canyon, 2024). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Orion, The New York Times Magazine, and several times in Best American Poetry. A recipient of fellowships from the National Parks Service and the National Endowment of the Arts, she’s a professor at Kansas State University and the current Poet Laureate of Kansas.

The poet, Justin Ham, is pictured with hands folded on a desk. He wears a straw hat and a yellow bandana around his neck. He wears a blue denim button up shirt with rolled cuffs revealing a pine tree cuff tattoo. The poet is pictured with a beard and glasses in a green sunny room.

Originally from the flatlands of central Illinois, Justin Hamm now lives near Twain territory in Missouri. He is the founding editor of the museum of americana and the author of three collections of poetry, The Inheritance, American Ephemeral, and Lessons in Ruin, and a book of photographs entitled Midwestern. His poems, stories, phot

os, and reviews have appeared in Nimrod, The Midwest Quarterly, Sugar House Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and a host of other publications. Recent work has also been selected for New Poetry from the Midwest (2014, New American Press) and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize from the St. Louis Poetry Center.


An image of poet, Mary Silwance, wearing huge orange ceramic earrings and a black blouse. She is smiling widely with eyes toward the camera while black curly hair frames her face.

Originally from Egypt, Mary Silwance lives in Kansas City and is a mother of three daughters. She has been an English teacher, Farm to School Coordinator, environmental educator, and farmhand. Mary provides writing workshops is an adjunct at KCAI and serves on the editorial team of Kansas City Voices. Mary is the 2023 Poet and Poetry Editor in Residence at Flying Ketchup Press. She also explores ecology from an intersection of justice and spirituality in workshops and writing. While her poetry and essays appear in numerous publications, you can find her work, chapbooks, radio, zoom presentations, and workshop offerings at When not writing, you can find Mary gardening, hiking, thrifting, or planning her off-grid village.

Editor Polly MCCann is pictured wearing a purple cotton scarf and wide black glasses hanging off the end of her nose. She has blue eyes and brown hair.

Polly Alice, McCann is an artist, book designer, and poet with her MFA from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. Her art has been published in US newspapers and magazines, most recently Rattle Magazine, and has shown internationally from Santa Monica to the Netherlands; collected by buyers on four continents. She is the author of three picture books, a spiritual memoir, many collections of poetry, and editor of three international poetry anthologies. An adjunct humanities professor, she is the founder and managing editor of Flying Ketchup Press, where she “curates” galleries of talent inside small sharable packages. She teaches workshops on poetry, creativity, and art. She says her favorite thing is to tell stories, maybe yours. Find more at


The former MO poet laureate is pictured sitting on a bench with a statue of Mark Twain.

Maryfrances Wagner

Missouri Poet Laureate 2021-2023. HER newest books are The Silence of Red Glass, The Immigrants’ New Camera, and Solving for X. Her newly reissued book Red Silk won the Thorpe Menn Book Award. She co-edits I-70 Review, is president of The Writers Place board, was 2020 Missouri Individual Artist of the Year. Poems have appeared in New Letters, Midwest Quarterly, Laurel Review, American Journal of Poetry, Poetry East, Green Mountain Literary Review, Voices in Italian Americana, Main Street Rag, Rattle, River Styx, Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry, et. al. For more, check her website:

The poet stand in front of a mic reading his poem wearing brown kakis and bright aqua blue tennis shoes. He wears glasses and has a crew cut.

Kēvin (Keevin) Callahan

Kēvin Callahan is an “accidental poet” who often finds his poems in the work a day activities of yard work or romantic remembrances of a long and happy marriage. In his other art endeavors Kēvin is a painter, photographer, and published author of A Sheltering Place, a book of short stories, Road Map: Poems Paintings & Stuff, several self-published short stories and one novel. Kevin resides in Parkville, Missouri with his wife, Karen. His two grown sons are both accomplished artists. You can find more of Kēvin’s work at

Jerri Miller, the author, is pictured in a sunny hallway with blond hair and a navy blue shirt.


When Jerri is not writing, she is figuring out how to share her writing, and that usually means untangling tech stuff. From creating graphics, to websites, to books, Jerri keeps pulling at threads until she understands it enough to start experimenting. She shares her writing on her website, social media, emails, PDFs, books, and most recently, Substack. Oh yeah, video and podcasts, too. Chat with Jerri on socials: IG and Pinterest: EverydayScribe_com. FB, LinkedIn, TikTok: EverydayScribe


An image of poet, Mary Silwance, wearing huge orange ceramic earrings and a black blouse. She is smiling widely with eyes toward the camera while black curly hair frames her face.

Nettie Zan, award-winning poet and artist, defies categorization by making endless lists of labels. They might be a friend of wasps, they probably have dirty fingernails. "The poem for me does not end on the page. I’m interested in seeing how the poems can live in other spaces. I’ve translated poems into storytelling performances, into high-intensity performance art, into comedy bits, into one-take videos, and into one-of-a-kind hand-made books. Sometimes, the same poem can be versatile enough to fit into more than one of those spaces. I’m particularly interested in creating multi-sensory environments for poems, and combining projections, music, smells and sometimes physical objects like hand-made pillows into the performance of a poem. To fully immerse a live audience in the spell-binding of a poem is a tremendous challenge, and incredibly rewarding. Poets sometimes have a reputation for dry and monotone delivery, I enjoy running counter to that idea and creating rich and spell-binding poetic happenings." You can reach them by asking Polly for their phone number or emailing You should watch their YouTube videos.

Editor Polly MCCann is pictured wearing a purple cotton scarf and wide black glasses hanging off the end of her nose. She has blue eyes and brown hair.

Waco Porter was born in Galveston, TX on December 12, 1974 and was raised in the Marines. He met his wife in 1996. She and his three daughters have reinvigorated his pen and have been the backbone of his writing; the anchor for his wandering mind. He has two collections of poetry: Total Eclipse and Bus Stop and works as a physical therapist assistant with pediatric and nursing home patients. He likes living and writing in Kansas City where he’s experienced ”growth and support.”

Tyrone Gathers Jr is pictured in a restaurant with his hands folded near his face. He has a beard and wears leather and stone bracelets and a kaki suit.

Tyrone "Inkwell" Gethers Jr. is a freelance writer and author of two poetry collections Assorted Emotions: a book of Poetry and Prose and Love/Lost. He is the founder of Obsidian's Pen Writers Group as a space where writers can feel free to create in a space that is safe…where we, writers of color can feast upon banquets of ideas and practice. He is the host of "The Source of the Inkwell" on KUAW Radio and sits on the board of directors: Knowledge, Understanding, And Wisdom, (KUAW) radio is a Community Broadcast Project of the Black Family Technology Awareness Association. Tyrone sits as Vice-Chair of the organization poetry for Personal Power, lead Administrator for Poets EDU, a board member with The Music and More Foundation In his spare time, Tyrone enjoys spending time with his son and other family members."

The Poet Jamie Heller, poses in a kansas field of green. She wears an emerald green shirt and smiles for the camera.

Jamie Lynn Heller uses poetry as her caffeine (and she needs a lot to keep up with her life of school counseling, teaching, parenting, wife-ing, daughtering, aunting, neighboring, writing, and other-ings ). Her book Buried in the Suburbs was published in 2018 (Woodley Press) and received the 2019 Kansas Notable Book Award. Her chapbook Domesticated: Poetry From Around the House was published in 2015 (Finishing Line Press). She has 90+ poems published in literary journals and magazines. Visit

The poet poses for a selfie. She has glasses, red hair, dark eyes and a black shirt.

Lisa Allen's work has appeared in journals including Lily Poetry Review, South 85 Journal, Heroin Chic, Bear Review, The Normal School and more. Her essays have been included in three anthologies, including Listen to Your Mother, What She Said Then, What We're Saying Now (Putnam). She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from The Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program, where she was a Michael Steinberg Fellow. Her poem, "Prolapse: Etymology," was a finalist for the 2023 Best of the Net anthology and she has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Lisa is a co-founder and co-director, with Rebecca Connors, of the virtual creative space, The Notebooks Collective, as well as a founding co-editor of the anthology series Maximum Tilt.


Upcoming Poetry and Short Fiction Collections by Flying Ketchup Press

  • Universe in a Bottle: Tales from Time Sci-Fi Anthology October 2023- edited by Polly McCann

  • Halloween Clock: Tales on the Hour October 2024- edited by John Waterfall

  • Of Our Own Accord: Women's Poetry Anthology 2024- edited by Mary Silwance


a flying ketchup bottle with a pirate font that says Flying Ketchup Press. The bottle has wings and is slightly lifting off the ground. Its cap is a jaunty teal color. The ketchup is very red and the label is yellow.

Flying Ketchup Press ® established in 2018 Kansas City, Missouri to champion new voices in poetry, art, and short story. Our dream, to share worlds of wonder and delight; to share stories, maybe yours.

Ketchupedia is an outreach of Flying Ketchup Press ® began in 2020 as a grassroots network to connect the Kansas City & regional writers community through weekly blogs, a writer's word of the day podcast, a live poetry radio show, and an annual poet-in-residency including open mics, classes, and events to allow regional artists to explore motivation, creative goals, and advocacy. Our editorial mentorships create an exponential "poet-tree" effect making room for personal narrative that empowers, heals, and unites diverse audiences. You can find us a Flying Ketchup Press.

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