Meet Kayla

My parents always said, “Kayla, follow your dreams”—until I wanted to be a writer. Then they suggested accounting.
Now, I’m a Poet Laureate, a bestselling author & a Rad Woman of Canadian Poetry.
Although I was told often enough that no one would ever want to read a collection of narrative poetry about working on cruise ships, my first poetry collection won the Bailey Prize. was a finalist for two awards & made the Calgary Bestseller list.

an east coast Entrepreneur

Writers commune with place & my home, Moncton, is a writer’s refuge. Small, natural, fluid in landscape and tongue, our most abundant commodity is time. Life is slower here. New Brunswickers are hardworking friendly & caring. These values are a part of my business. I care about my clients, I give you my time. My clients are writers of all levels & genres, women in business & public life, entrepreneurs & small businesses, non-profits, academics & students—anyone who needs assistance with documentation or writing projects.

Interviews & Readings

My “We Are Diamonds” interview with poet and community leader Reem Fayyad Abdel Samad about my experience in the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic: OMG I wish I could be as bored as everyone else!
An interview with emerging author and motivational life coach Ali Ettarnichi! We had a ton of fun filming at Victoria Park in Moncton.
Reading Mahmoud Darwich with Reem Fayyad Abdel Samad and Maha Imazitene in the original Arabic, English and French for Love in the Eyes of Poetry, Valentine’s Day 2020 with the Arab Culture Club, Moncton NB

At five years’s old I knew what I wanted to do with my life: write.

A video my bestie took of me reading my teenage poetry at Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids. It was a great night. Formally trained poets are discouraged from losing their composure, but the audience was infectious. I turned into Morty Smith, “Awww geez.”

My Journey

Everything is story. In narrative, in words, there is power. Yet, I was born into a storyline I was powerless to change. That’s what I was told—don’t even try. In 2015, I stumbled across a book of ACOA studies & learned why this was thought to be true. A Brothers Grimm of behavioral psychology, it told my story in percentages & control groups, disorders, medications & dead ends. By then, I’d walked off those pages into my own life.

I believe the highest compliment a writer can receive is to move their readers or audience. How did you reach into me & say exactly what I was feeling?; I thought I was alone.; I grew up just like that.; Can I give you a hug? This level of connection, these profound & authentic reactions, still surprise me. I find myself giving lots of hugs after a reading. I don’t believe this would have been possible without an early introduction to literature. My mother taught me to read when I was two years old & that made all the difference in my life.
I raised myself somewhere between Dickens & dysfunction.

Books became my refuge. I grew up surrounded by novels & musty encyclopedias, National Geographic magazines, neglect & other traumas. My life skills were severely limited—I could cook & I could write. Stupid, I was told so often I was stupid & lacked motivation. I was not invested in my future. What future?

As a young writer I had very little support—actually, I was strongly discouraged from pursuing writing as a profession. I think I hate the word “hobby” for this reason. My first love has always been poetry. Like other kinds of high art, poetry seeks truth. In the variety & power of words I found myself.

After working on cruise ships, I was accepted into UNB. During my BA, I won the Angela Ludan Levine Award for my poetry. At the awards dinner, the English Department Chair said, “Come see me on Wednesday.” That afternoon she welcomed me into her office. “I pulled your transcript. I think you’re bored.” She pushed a sheaf of papers across her desk & tapped the line at the bottom of the page. “Sign here.” I hesitated. I had no idea what I was signing. She arched her eyebrows. I scrawled my signature. “Welcome to the Honours Programme,” she smiled. “You won’t regret it.”

The first day of my first seminar, my peers, the advanced students couldn’t help but ask, “Kayla, what are you doing here?” “I’m in Honours,” I replied. “Yeah right,” they laughed. I hoped I wasn’t blushing; I already felt like an interloper. As I took a my seat, they told me, “Joke’s over. Go on, get out.” “Dr. Rimmer enrolled me,” I snapped, “she clearly feels I belong here.” No one was going to question the department Chair. The prof scanned her roster and nodded. “She’s in the right place.”

But I didn’t feel that way. Honours was all about faking it, yet some of my profs really believed in me. They showed me I could excel & I soon made the Dean’s List. The writing workshops, however, were both brilliant & brutal. Why can’t someone write successfully outside the “established narrative”? What happens if I just write what I want anyway? Perhaps it is not “what” but “how?” Why is a “feminine” voice or subject matter wrong? I began forming ideas about how we write & why.

In 2012, I graduated with an MA in English & entered the technical field. Choosing challenging roles that diversified my skillset meant I was often exhausted from months of overtime or from working remotely on national projects. I wrote very little. I felt the world I loved slipping away from me.

I was working as an IDS, writing courseware for Air Traffic Controllers when the CBC recognized me as a poet who reflects the “enduring strength of the literary form in this country.” Was I wasting my talents in the corporate world? One month later my position was eliminated & I decided it was time. Within a year I was an entrepreneur, the new host of the Attic Owl Reading Series & Moncton’s inaugural Anglophone Poet Laureate. 

When I opened that book five years ago, I was pleased I could no longer point to a case study & say, “That sounds like me.” I’d gone far beyond the best I could expect of myself; the percentages showed that this was rare. I was hopeful. Maybe, maybe if I worked harder, I would become a published author & then I could use my formal training to encourage others, no matter their background or profession, in the craft of fine, authentic writing.

Kayla Geitzler, July 2020

“I am ready to face any challenges that might be foolish enough to face me.”

Dwight Schrute, The Office

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