Happy fourth SWEP-aversary, Kai!

Today marks FOUR YEARS since PERISCOPE HEART, Kai Coggin‘s debut collection with Swimming With Elephants Publications, was released! PH Postcard 4x6We want to take this time to congratulate Kai on her many and continued efforts in pursuing change in the world through writing.

More recently, she was published in HER Magazine, in an article that showcased her work in poetry and the ties to her culture therein. We are SO proud of our parade in everything they do. Congratulations, Kai! And happy publication anniversary, from all of SWEP family, to you!

Kai Coggin was born in Bangkok, Thailand, but is currently a happy blip in the 3-million-acre Ouachita National Forest in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. Author of PERISCOPE HEART, published by Swimming With Elephants in 2014, and Wingspanpublished by Golden Dragonfly Press on Earth Day 2016, Kai was a 9th/10th grade English teacher I wish I’d had, before she transitioned fully to a career in writing. She has more accolades than could fit on a page, and basically continues to slay in the writing world. Please be sure to check out her website, kaicoggin.com (where you can get a full list of all those accolades!) and continue to support her in all of her efforts.

Featured SwEP Author: Kai Coggin

Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC would like to reintroduce to you to Kai Coggin.

Kai Coggin’s collection, Periscope Heart, was published in late 2014 after winning first place in a SwEP’s 2014 chapbook competition.

“Kai Coggin’s first full-length collection, Periscope Heart – as the title may suggest – overflows with intimate reflections on life and love that offer the reader heartfelt observations into places ordinarily beyond our range of vision. Through sensual chronicles that beautifully illuminate taboo subjects, Coggin’s poetry draws from nature and personal narratives to intimate us with her passion for justice, social change and spirituality, in dynamic, seductive strokes.”

– Catherine Ghosh

Editor of Journey of the Heart: An Anthology of Spiritual Poetry by Women


Listen to her read here:

Order Kai Coggin’s Periscope Heart directly from her per her website: kaicoggin.com

or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble today!


Kai Coggin

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 brings the poet off the page into sound with the much anticipated release of her debut spoken world album SILHOUETTE.

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 competed for Regional Teacher of the Year against 5, 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 Blue Heron Review, 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 recently been nominated twice for The Pushcart Prize, as well as Bettering American Poetry 2015, and Best of the Net 2016.

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.

A Review of Periscope Heart by Rich Boucher

A Review of Periscope Heart

by Rich Boucher



Right off the actual bat, I should quasi-recuse myself and say that personally speaking, poems and books of poems that mostly address the notion of love for another generally don’t do anything for me. It’s just a taste thing. So with that context understood, Periscope Heart, Kai Coggin’s first full-length collection of poems (and the twentieth publication from the marvelous Swimming with Elephants Publications, LLC) really had its work cut out for it. No joke; I’m being serious. I have read and heard a lot of poetry that addresses some kind of romance/desire with the big R, and much of that just makes me really tired really fast. Maybe I’m not mature enough – who knows? Hand me another beer, love.


But the thing is this: I just haven’t got tired yet; in fact, the work found in Periscope Heart is at times stimulating, energizing and enervating, surprising even me. I stroll on the paths in this book and frequently some soft tendril of very, very careful neologism and pun-craft loops around my torso, and I can’t move. I think Kai Coggin knows this. At some points in this book I’ve suspected Coggin of witchcraft. Kai made a believer out of me and believe me, something in me resisted. Love just isn’t in my wheelhouse; on any given day I’d be more given to burying myself in poems about fetishizing panties and hails of gunfire. And many of the poems (not all) in this volume carry the love as their banner into battle. And I found myself right beside Coggin and marching along.


I’m going to take the magnifying lens to a small handful of poems in this review, but I want you to get this book and sit with it on either an early Saturday morning or a late Sunday night. And I’m being serious about that, too. Maybe you don’t like being told what to do. I feel for you; I really do, but I’m telling you what to do anyway. And I’m the one holding the riding crop. My eyes got pulled to the title “Alchemy” right away, as this is a kind of pet favourite subject of mine. Coggin here gifts us with powerful turns of phrase (“…my tongue knew of only churches inside you…”) and takes the notions of fusion and dissolution and mutability and cleverly finds their examples in this examination of attraction and desire (“…only a touch of alchemy in my bones remains/because you have loved me to earthen clay in your hands….”). Any book that contains a poem that closes with the standalone line “I have turned into gold” is worth both the price of admission and its own weight in the precious metal.


“Planting Stars” is just one of those quietly glorious poems that founds itself upon an arresting image (“…I buried a handful/of stars deep into the soil…”) but it’s more than just one of those glorious poems, because where another, lesser poet might dally too long, fascinated by their own scintillating creation, Coggin takes only the amount of time necessary to bring to our line of sight what she sees, leaving us to choose how long and how often we’ll gaze upon such a pretty, miraculous concoction. As it turns out, we keep coming back to it over and over again.


Some poems, only the real good ones, can mimic the soul and feel of music, of a song that’s both sad and up in one measure, and “Siren” satisfies this tall, tall order very nicely. I think of lines like this one from “Siren”: “…wanting nothing but homecoming/nothing but a respite on the open shores of someone’s thighs…” and I know without a doubt that where the casual reader will silently gape, the reader who is also a writer will gasp at the easy, unhurried majesty found in Kai Coggin’s poetry.


And not for nothing, but this poet knows how to top off her poems with titles that pull you and tease from the tableau of contents (“That Day I was Jesus Christ (Total Eclipse of the Heart)”, “This is how to eat your past:”, “Willing My Body Parts”), and in a nice reversal of a coup de grâce, Periscope Heart comes to you wrapped up in a very handsome, deep-blue package featuring some captivating cover art by Arkansas artist Joann Saraydarian. There are fifty-four poems in this first volume; think of yourself as truly getting away with it when you buy this book.


Visit Kai’s website to order a book straight from Kai, or pick one up on Amazon today.

Kai Coggin

KaiKai Coggin is a full-time poet and freelance writer born in Bangkok, Thailand, raised in Southwest Houston, and currently a blip in the  3-million acre Ouachita National Forest in Hot Springs, AR.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Poetry and Creative Writing from Texas A&M University.  She writes poems of feminism, love, spirituality, injustice, metaphysics, and beauty.  Kai has been published in Elephant Journal, Cliterature, The Manila Envelope, [empath], Catching Calliope and an anthology to be released summer 2014 called Journey of the Heart.  She released her first chapbook, In Other Words, in August 2013.  PERISCOPE HEART is her first full-length collection of poetry.

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.

If you would like to contact Kai to arrange a poetry reading or book signing, please e-mail her at periscopeheart@gmail.com.