Kathryn Gahl, who holds dual degrees in English and nursing, is a brightly lit performer whose use of language reaches out and grabs an audience. She thinks her focus on language began as a child, eating alphabet soup. Her multi-genre writing, deeply rooted in everyday life, combines a certain human pathos with quick wit and smile-worthy lines. Her works appear in three anthologies, four ekphrastic art shows, and over fifty journals, with awards from Glimmer Train, Margie, Chautauqua, Rosebud, The Mill, Talking Writing, The Hal Prize for Fiction and Poetry, New Millennium Writings, and Wisconsin People & Ideas

A Pushcart nominee, she served as Writer-in-Residence at Lakeland University. In 2019, The Council of Wisconsin Writers presented her the Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award and in 2021, THE VELOCITY OF LOVE (Water’s Edge Press, 2020) received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association. Future releases include HARD LIFE, HARD LOVE (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming 2022), THE YELLOW TOOTHBRUSH (Two Shrews Press, forthcoming 2022), and MESSENGERS OF THE GODS (Cornerstone Press, 2022).

An avid ballroom dancer, she believes in the power of dark chocolate, deep sleep, and red lipstick. 

The Backstory

Born to an Irish nurse and German farmer, Kathryn grew up in a farmhouse at the end of a half-mile gravel drive with seven siblings and assorted dairy cows, beef cattle, turkeys, chickens, pigs, cats, dogs, and her brothers' pet rabbits. She rode a bus seventeen miles to high school and studied all the way there and back.

After that, wanderlust took her to four colleges and waiting tables in Vermont and Switzerland. She worked as a nurse in a Greenwich Village Nursing Home, a hospital in Juneau, AK, a Girl Scout camp on the Potomac, and Johns Hopkins intensive care. Other ventures included newspaper columnist, stage performer, and OB nurse-manager in WI.

Awards & Honors

  • Wisconsin People & Ideas Poetry Honorable Mention for "Liminal," 2021
  • Hal Prize in Fiction, Winner for "Yes, No, I Don’t Know," 2020 
  • Hal Prize in Poetry, Winner for “Daytona Beach at Dusk,” 2020  
  • Wisconsin People & Ideas Poetry, Second Place Winner for "Sister," 2020
  • Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award, 2018
  • Chautauqua Poetry Contest, Finalist for "For The Eighth-Grade Girl Writing Love Lyrics"
  • Wisconsin People & Ideas Fiction Winner for "Stones," 2015 
  • Wisconsin People & Ideas Poetry, Honorable Mention for "Heaven," 2014 
  • Talking Writing Flash Fiction, Finalist for "Sure," 2013
  • Wisconsin People & Ideas Short Story Third Place Winner for "Miles," 2011
  • Wisconsin People & Ideas Poetry Finalist for "On Being a Farm Kid," 2007 
  • Marjorie J. Wilson Award, Finalist for "Freedom Fighters," 2006 
  • Glimmer Train's Very Short Fiction, Finalist for "FRANCE," Winter 2003/2004
  • Glimmer Train's Very Short Fiction, Finalist for "The Dresser


Readings, Interviews, & Press