A Farewell and Transposition

Over the past five years, Transpositions has been for me an inspiring touchstone, a guidepost, a classroom, a stage, a playground, a church, an art studio, and most importantly, a meaningful network of people wrestling with and expressing the ways we encounter God through the arts.

Now, in what feels like a long and satisfying exhale, it is time for me to say farewell as Editor-in-Chief and offer my gratitude to this space in which I have been able to explore and grow among some of the finest people – team members and contributors alike.

It has been a most enriching journey and I am grateful to Brett Speakman for inviting me to the team during my first year in St Andrews.  His commitment to quality and consistency during his tenure as Editor-in-Chief ensured high calibre content and growth.  Jake Morley continued this commitment and was a wonderful colleague with whom to explore new directions.  I have been very proud of the work we have done together, the contributors I have encountered, the series I was able to introduce each term – especially the highlights on ITIA’s artist group, Transept – and the way we have engaged the issues of our strange time.  To say my background in improvisation came in handy over the past two years is an understatement.

But most important to our success is the team that has surrounded me.  I could not be prouder of them and the work we have done together in the past couple years – during a pandemic, no less.  The optimism and talent of this team – Ewan, James, Matthew, Karlee and Elizabeth – has been extremely inspiring, and I value the friendships we have built.

So I am beyond thrilled to pass the baton on to Ewan Bowlby, a dear colleague and friend who has made incredible contributions to Transpositions over the past few years – both as an Associate Editor and a contributor.  Under his leadership, Transpositions will only grow stronger and even more compelling.  Ewan has been a great inspiration to me and a strong partner in navigating these odd times.  I am excited to see the wonderful things in store this term as new pages are written, composed and transposed, continuing a tradition of meaningful work.

And as I make my own transposition of sorts, I offer this poem from Zebediah Rose, a member of ITIA’s Transept group, and I dedicate it to everyone who has been part of the Transpositions editorial team over the past eleven years, all of whom have contributed to a rich archive of work, like canticles resounding through a cathedral.


A song,
Chanting lowly,
Weaves among the columns,
Builds up cathedral walls – from where
They fell to dust.
But now the octave soars,
A spring with eight walls comes to life,
The bread, the wine, a leaking
Bag of sand
Find higher pitch –
With broken canticles, we come
Near as we can to the golden key,
The heights come down – the dust alights –
In holy song.

(Zebediah Rose, 2020)



What’s next?

For Transpositions – an exciting, continuing crescendo as new ‘canticles’ find voice, and notes composed by each contributor are raised to the heights.

For me – as I hand off the baton and exit stage right, I look forward to the next improvisation, and the one after that, and on… invigorated by the creativity and the rigourous and delightful work I have enjoyed with our Transpositions teams; and by the knowledge that it plays on.

In the spirit of my beloved improvisation art form, Playback Theatre, I say with great anticipation for the future of Transpositions, ‘Let’s watch…’


~ Karen
Transpositions Editor, 2017-2022








Image Credit

Man with music notes on wire: iStock.com/ALLVISIONN



  • Karen is finishing a PhD program in the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts after careers in corporate management, consulting, and pastoral and theatre ministry. She explores theological and theatrical contexts of ’empty space’ and general human disposition toward it, with emphasis on improvisation (specifically Playback Theatre) and Holy Saturday. Since 2017, Karen has led or advised ITIA’s Transept group, a postgraduate-led group of multidisciplinary practicing artists. Karen was an editor for Transpositions from 2017 to 2022. As Editor-in-Chief, she fostered a closer partnership between Transpositions and Transept, hosted the In/break exhibition on the Transpositions site, and introduced regular series into the publishing schedule.

More from Karen McClain Kiefer
Introducing Rebekah Lamb: ITIA’s Newest Lecturer
Transpositions is pleased to welcome Rebekah Lamb as Lecturer in the Institute for...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

1,551,469 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments