Kari O'Connor - Las Vegas, Nevada

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Mission Statement
To marry my love of writing and other creative exploits with my love of learning - forever and ever amen. I believe in the power of the word to do anything - and creating a better world is just the tip of the iceberg.

Background Highlights
  • Born in Henderson, Nevada (just outside Las Vegas).
  • During high school I worked at a Family Fun Center where I was a ticket taker, skate guard, arcade tech, and runner of go-carts and bumper boats; I sold candy; and I had a short acting job as a rat lady scaring people off the backs of trucks on a haunted hayride. My junior year, I participated in the Southern Nevada Writing Project. Graduated from Green Valley High School in 1996, lettering in Varsity Orchestra (I played violin for about 6 years).
  • My first paycheck went to buying an acoustic guitar. I taught myself chords using a Beatles book that my mother gave me for my birthday. I still play it almost every day.
  • Went to college at the Johnston Center for Integrated Studies at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California. Graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in The Poetry Of Belief: Writing And Religion, a course of study focusing on Creative Writing with a Religious Studies minor. While there I studied studying under Patricia Geary and Tim Powers.
  • During my freshman year at Redlands, I taught myself basic HTML.
  • The spring term of my Junior year I studied abroad at the University of East Anglia, where I took classes on Chaucer (reading the original Middle English), Religious Philosophy, and Modern Literature (including works by Woolf, Forster, and Conrad). Spent 3 weeks on the European continent and visited France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, and The Netherlands. I also performed at open mic poetry nights on the UEA campus.
  • In 1999, I started blogging on Diaryland as a way to vent about college (amongst other things that people in their early 20s vent about!), but it turned into part of my Senior Project in 2000 to blog about the study of Death and Grieving. In the summer of 2001, I moved to Blogger. I moved to WordPress in July of 2006, and have been using it (and loving it) ever since.
  • Moved back to Vegas in the summer of 2000 to help take care of an ill father and learn about the bar business by doing some accounting and being a sort of manager at Noreen's Lounge.
  • Right out of college, I joined a band called drop_alpha. I played bass. We lasted about a year or so.
  • In 2001 I performed at my first poetry slam. It didn't go well. Didn't compete for 2 more years.
  • 2001 also saw my first paying writing gig with Las Vegas CityLife.
  • In 2002 I particpated in the "48 Hour Movie Project" in Los Angeles, where I did just about everything - writing, acting, producing, editing, and music.
  • Got on the Las Vegas Slam Team in 2003, and went to Chicago where I performed alongside Def Poets that I'd seen on TV.
  • Started helping with the organization of Las Vegas Slam in 2004, and have been helping and organizing in some capacity since then.
  • Also in 2004 I went on a poetry tour along the west coast of the U.S. and Vancouver, Canada.
  • Finally was paid for blogging starting in 2005.
  • Was in the inaugural 2007 class of Clarion to be in San Diego.
  • Had my first major publication in 2009, a flash fiction piece.
  • In 2010 I traveled to Tibet and Cambodia. Highlights included Potala Palace in Lhasa, Mt. Everest Base Camp, and Angkor Wat.
  • 2011 saw me performing in front of my biggest crowd ever: thousands of particpants in Downtown Las Vegas for the Susan G. Komen Southern Nevada Race For The Cure.
  • In 2013, after 10 years of slamming, I was crowned Grand Slam Champ for the Battle Born Slam. The team I was on came in 24th out of 72 teams in the competition. Our team made it to Group Piece Finals, where we came in 7th out of 10 teams.

Career Timeline (Post-College)
  • Secretary for the Slot Department, Sam's Town Gambling Hall | Took phone calls, filed employee paperwork, data entry. Left for personal reasons.
  • Freelance Arts & Entertainment Writer, Las Vegas CityLife | Album reviews, concert reviews, various news bits. My editor left, so I moved on.
  • Manager, Bartender, and Webmistress, Noreen's Lounge | My father passed away in 2001, so I helped my brother as a silent partner, occasionally filling in as a bartender. I also put together the website for Noreen's Lounge and set up a Facebook presence for the bar. Most of my role presently is marketing and online presence, but I also do the books and am on-call when my brother is out of town, along with occasional bartending.
  • Administrator and Entertainment Content Manager, Pregame.com | Helped write bios for Pregame's employees for a corporate site. Also helped to aggregate news media appearances from such sources as Forbes.com and ESPN. Took a weekly email property about betting on entertainment and added a blog to it called HollyWagers that ended up being a top Google hit for "How to read odds." Eventually HollyWagers garnered some media attention, including being chosen to create odds for the Toyota Celebrity Race in Long Beach, California. Howard Stern Show's Robin Quivers was one of the participants, and interviewed one of the other writers on-air. Eventually I was given the job of creating press releases for the company as well. Left because of laws passed against Internet gambling.
  • Manager and Salesperson, Awards West and Action Trophy | Learned how to use laser and automatic engraving machines. Put together plaques and trophies. Helped customers word their products and gifts. Assisted the owners in making clearer copy for their website. Was laid off due to the poor economy.
  • Marketing Copywriter, Shift4 Corporation | Learned corporate language in my writing while revising internal and external communications pieces, website copy, white papers, and email properties. The position was retooled, so I was let go.
  • Administator and Content Writer, Established Online | I helped manage Twitter properties, (including maintaining lists, growing following lists, and creating and sending tweets. I also created content for EO clients Postconsumers andTiny Green Bubble. I have also created SEO content for some of our clients, including skin care and men's fashion accessories.
  • Copywriter and Social Media Manager, DHD Global Media | A web design company focused on adult content, not only did I write website copy and scene descriptions for our clients, I also managed DHD's Twitter account, wrote for the company's official blog, and also helped implement SEO copy during my time there. Wrote my first ever Wikipedia page for Katie Kox.
  • Social Media and Content Marketing Specialist, Selling Source Direct | Writing website copy, email content, social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, as well as PPC ad copy, sweepstakes content, and maintaining and distributing blog content.

More Detailed Writing Timeline
  • Graduated from University of Redlands with degree in The Poetry of Belief: Writing and Religion: Creative Writing with a minor in Religious Studies, studying under Patricia Geary and Tim Powers

  • 2001-2002:
  • Wrote for the A&E section of Las Vegas CityLife doing CD/concert reviews and local music news
  • Participated in the 48 Hour Movie Project -- writing, acting, co-producing, co-editing, and music for "The Case of the Lactose Intolerant Pop Star"

  • 2003:
  • Member of 2003 Las Vegas Poetry Slam Team that went to Chicago
  • Opened up for Def Poet Big Poppa E

  • 2004:
  • Organizer of the '04 slam season
  • Opened up for New York Times Bestselling author Beth Lisick
  • West coast Las Vegas Poetry Circus tour with Andy Hall and Keith Haubrich

  • 2005:
  • Placed second at Grand Slam, member of the '05 team
  • Organizer of '05 season
  • Host of Poets Anonymous at Café Hookah
  • Opened for KRS-One in L.A.
  • Head of screenwriting workshop at Barnes & Noble
  • Entertainment Content Manager for HollyWagers.com
  • Winner of Best Female Poet, Best Slam Poet, and Best Slam Piece in the 2005 LasVegasPoets.org Awards

  • 2006:
  • Placed third at Grand Slam, member of the '06 team
  • Organizer of '06 season
  • Winner of Best Political Poem and Inducted into the LasVegasPoets.org Hall of Fame in the LasVegasPoets.org Awards

  • 2007:
  • Coach for the '07 slam team
  • Participant in the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Workshop

  • 2008:
  • Founded Seldom Seen Poets reading

  • 2009:
  • Published in the anthology Last Drink Bird Head

  • 2010:
  • Organizer of '10-'11 slam season

  • 2011:
  • Coach of the 2011 slam team
  • Winner of the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Southern Nevada Poetry Contest
  • Contributor to Postconsumers and Tiny Green Bubble
  • Featured on "Future Experience" on 91.5 KUNV
  • Guest on KNPR's "State of Nevada" talking about Slam and Spoken Word poetry

  • 2012:
  • Placed third at Grand Slam, member of the '12 team
  • Co-organizer of '11-'12 slam season
  • Mentor for LVARTReach
  • Interviewed in Las Vegas CityLife about organizing the Battle Born Slam and my history of becoming a slam poet

  • 2013:
  • 2013 Battle Born Grand Slam Champion
  • Co-organizer of '12-'13 slam season

"My biggest fear has always been that if my life were to pass before my eyes during a moment of life-threatening duress, it would be rated PG."
--Dennis Hensley, Misadventures in the (213)