K A I C O G G I N
Kai Coggin is a poet and the author of PERISCOPE HEART, her stunning debut collection released by Swimming with Elephants Publications, (2014). Her second full-length collection is entitled Wingspan, a deeper dive into the soul and sound of this woman, this activist, this lover, this spirit. Wingspan was released on Earth Day, April 22, 2016, by Golden Dragonfly Press. 2017 brought the poet off the page into sound with the much anticipated release of her debut spoken world album SILHOUETTE. Her third full-length poetry collection INCANDESCENT (2019) brings fire and passion to combat the darkness of our times. She is proud to partner with Sibling Rivalry Press to bring this light of resistance, rebellion, and beauty into the world.
Kai was born Kimberly Katherine Coggin on New Year's Day 1980 in Bangkok, Thailand. She was raised in Southwest Houston (Alief), and is currently a happy blip in the 3-million-acre Ouachita National Forest in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.
Before transitioning to a career in writing, Kai was first a 9th and 10th grade English teacher, who took her students outside for poetry and drum circles on the lawn, and built a life-size balcony, and meter-stick-aluminum-foil-wrapped swords in her classroom for Romeo and Juliet. People wondered about her methods… but the students learned… and loved her. She convinced her students of the power of their own writing with a poetry and persuasive writing project that culminated with a visit from the internationally acclaimed author of The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros.
Kai believes that learning is a personal journey for everyone, that cannot be constricted and confined by the classifications and labels of standardized testing. She strives to, someday, help change the paradigm of education as a whole. In Houston, despite (or because of) her radical methods, she was recognized as Teacher of the Year, District Secondary Teacher of the Year, and was a top five finalist for Regional Teacher of the Year out of 85,000 teachers.
Presently, with her focus shifted more towards poetry, Kai is a specialized Teaching Artist of Creative Writing, on the Arts in Education Roster for the Arkansas Arts Council and Arkansas Learning for the Arts. She also teaches a community adult creative writing class at Emergent Arts called Words & Wine.
Kai holds a Bachelor of Arts in Poetry and Creative Writing from Texas A&M University, and an honorary degree from the school of Hard Knocks. She writes poems of love, spirituality, the striving of the soul, feminism, race, sexuality, global injustice, metaphysics, and beauty. Everything that she writes is infused with Heart and Light.
Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Sinister Wisdom, Assaracus, Calamus Journal, The Rise Up Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Luna Luna, Blue Heron Review, Hoctok, Yes, Poetry, Lavender Review, Broad!, The Tattooed Buddha, Split This Rock, Yellow Chair Review, Drunk Monkeys, Snapdragon, ANIMA, Elephant Journal, and many other literary journals and anthologies. Her poetry has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize, as well as Bettering American Poetry 2015 and Best of the Net 2016 and 2018.
Kai knows that words hold the potential to create monumental and global change, and she uses her words like a sword of Beauty. She can be found most Wednesdays at a local venue, reading her poems into an open mic, hoping the wind carries her words out to the world.
Official Bio: Kai Coggin is the author of three full-length poetry collections PERISCOPE HEART (Swimming with Elephants 2014), WINGSPAN (Golden Dragonfly Press 2016), and INCANDESCENT (Sibling Rivalry Press 2019), as well as a spoken word album SILHOUETTE (2017). She is a queer woman of color who thinks Black lives matter, a teaching artist in poetry with the Arkansas Arts Council, and the host of the longest running consecutive weekly open mic series in the country—Wednesday Night Poetry. Recently named “Best Poet in Arkansas” by the Arkansas Times, her fierce and powerful poetry has been nominated three times for The Pushcart Prize, as well as Bettering American Poetry 2015, and Best of the Net 2016 and 2018. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Cultural Weekly, Entropy, NELLE, Sinister Wisdom, Calamus Journal, Lavender Review, Luna Luna, Blue Heron Review, Yes, Poetry and elsewhere. Coggin is Associate Editor at The Rise Up Review. She lives with her wife and their two adorable dogs in the valley of a small mountain in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.
Kai Coggin's first collection, Periscope Heart, was the spectacular debut of a poetic voice that the world needed to hear, a classically educated, peculiarly modern scholar with a cosmopolitan outlook and an irresistible southern charisma; it was a book that her editor described as 'the sound of wings opening.'
Her second book, Wingspan, takes the next logical step and launches her into brilliant and beautiful flight. She dips and soars through sensual and poignant autobiography; she tackles relevant, current societal problems like a raptor tearing into racism, body shaming, and gender identity oppression. Again, she demonstrates her agility, grasping classic images like the lips of a lover or the emptiness of grief on one page, then scooping up themes like #blacklivesmatters by their hashtags. She blends currency and radical activism with a steady, timeless devotion to the art and beauty of lyric poetry.
It's hard to follow a truly successful debut; it was a feat too difficult for Harper Lee, Robert Pirsig, or Emily Bronte. Wingspan not only lives up to the high expectations set by Kai's first collection; it surpasses them on every level. If you're a returning fan, you won't be disappointed. And if this is your first time meeting Kai Coggin, I have good news for you -- you're about to take a flight you'll never forget.
- Del Greer, Author of Forgotten Phone Numbers