Win a book gift card from Bottlecap Press

Bottlecap Press, the publisher of my book “On that one-way trip to Mars,” is holding a gift card giveaway!

For a chance to win a $100 gift card, tweet a picture of your favorite Bottlecap poem by March 31 — and be sure to tag them at @BottlecapPress.

You could tweet one of mine or plenty of other great Bottlecap poets for a chance to win!

The power of writers as activists

The incredible Taylor Lewis reflects on the power of writers as activists, her experiences teaching abroad in France, going to grad school in Hawaii, and the current political climate in a recent article in The Writers’ Bloc.

Back in 2011, at the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House at the University of Maryland, Taylor had the great idea to start up a literary-arts newspaper on campus — what eventually became The Writers’ Bloc. The University of Maryland had niche newspapers, but nothing like this.

I was grateful to be included in starting the paper, becoming its Editor-in-Chief years later, and am so proud of what it has grown into.

“Since then, it has evolved in ways I could have never imagined,” Taylor writes. “From Writers’ to Writer’s; from a focus solely on arts and writing to music and blogs and activism. The staff has grown exponentially from the few of us who started it, and though I haven’t met many of them, every new generation carries on the legacy, making it bigger and better.”

Taylor is absolutely right when she says, “We do not take kindly to walls.” We as writers, we as creatives, we as thinkers, dreamers, artists, we as immigrants, we as people of color, we as LGBTQ/queer people, we as disabled people, we as indigenous people/Native Americans, we as people.

We don’t take kindly to being walled up, walled off, with borders or bans — everything happening now we are actively fighting and speaking up against. And The Writers’ Bloc has always and seems to continue to offer an important space for these writers and artists.

Taylor leaves us with insight into another language; apt since she is studying second-language acquisition.

Hawaiʻi Loa, kū like kākou
Kū paʻa me ka lōkahi e
Kū kala me ka wiwo ʻole
ʻOnipaʻa kākou, ‘onipaʻa kākou
A lanakila nā kini e
E ola, e ola e ola nā kini e

All Hawaiʻi stands together, it is now and forever
To raise your voices, and hold your banners high
We shall stand as a nation
To guide the destinies of our generations
To sing and praise the glories of our land

Thank you, The Writers’ Bloc staff, for continuing this legacy of sharing your voices. This is so necessary. And thank you, Taylor, for dreaming up that idea all those years ago in the midst of overflowing undergraduate schedules. What a dream — and what a newspaper it has become.

District Lit seeks work for our Disability, Medicine, and Illness issue

District Lit is currently accepting poetry and creative nonfiction for our themed issue on Disability, Medicine, and Illness. We have Jen Stein Hauptmann, Assistant Editor at Rogue Agent, as a guest judge reading for this issue.

While District Lit is always open to work from writers with disabilities, this themed issue will highlight poetry and nonfiction about living with disability, illness, or medical treatments. We want writing and art about chronic illness, disability (visible and invisible), medical histories and procedures, recovery, and the body in all its forms. Send us your rawest poetry, powerful CNF, and embodied art.

The deadline is March 15, 2017.

Please submit your work.

That’s a wrap on AWP 2017

I am not invisible photo

Wow. AWP is over. I am exhausted, and sick (who gave me this cold?!), and heartened by the writing community I’m a part of.

This was my first AWP, and it is just as massive as it sounds. About 15,000 writers, editors, publishers, university professors, etc. attended. It’s like an entire city converging on D.C. for several days, spreading infestations of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, translation, and more.

I’m so grateful that I was able to meet several editors of literary journals who have been so kind to publish me. Meeting fellow editors and writers in person is such a wonderful experience. If I missed you, know that you mean so much to me. I really enjoy broadening my writing community — especially in these times, we need each other more than ever.

I tried to attend as many panels on disability and accessibility in writing as I could — unfortunately, I could not attend them all. I had to listen to my body, pace myself, take breaks, and find some time to eat. The off-site events, too, were supportive spaces, especially the Kick Ass Women Kick Ass reading, Split This Rock’s candlelight vigil for free speech, and the Inner Loop’s joint reading with District Lit, Sakura Review, and the Boiler Journal.

Here’s my roundup:

  • It’s the End of the World as She Knows It: Apocalypse Poetry by Women
  • The Politics of Queering Characters
  • Beautiful Mysteries: Science in Fiction and Poetry (got some sweet STEM temp tats from this panel)
  • Body of Work: Exploring Disability, Creativity, and Inclusivity
  • Audio Drama and Podcasting: The Future is Now 2.0
  • Not Invisible: Editors of Literary Journals Speak Out on Disability and Building Inclusive Writing Communities
  • Page Meets Stage with Carolyn Forché, Sarah Kay, and Derrick Brown
  • Writing With and About Dis/Ability, Dis/Order, and Dis/Ease
  • Reading and Conversation with Aracelis Girmay, Tim Seibles, and Danez Smith

Read some of my thoughts on these panels on my Twitter by searching #AWP17 on my timeline.

On Friday, I had a vital and challenging conversation on my panel about disability, accessibility, and building inclusive writing communities. Listening to and talking with Jill Khoury, Mike Northen, Sheryl Rivett, and Sheila McMullin was so powerful.

Mike summed it up when he said, “As editors, we’re always walling someone off.” As gatekeepers, how do we check our privileges and biases and make sure to open the door to others, especially disabled writers, women writers, LGBTQ writers, writers of color, and more. These voices are so often overlooked and left out of publishing. We discussed some ways we try to do this. And I’m always open to hearing how to improve and keep building more inclusive (writing) communities.

Thank you to all who attended our panel and asked important questions. Thank you to VIDA for sponsoring, and to Sheila for planning and leading our panel.

Interview in Crack the Spine

I was recently interviewed in Crack the Spine’s Wordsmith series! They asked me how long I’ve been writing, what my greatest challenge as a writer is, and the best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer.

Read on to find out more about the main message in my short story in Crack the Spine, as well as important issues like my favorite word and the pressing question of chocolate or vanilla?

Read the interview.

AWP is next week!

I am not invisible photo

I’m so excited for AWP. It’ll be my first time at the enormous conference that brings writers and editors of literary magazines together. The week will be packed with panels, readings, difficult and necessary discussions, and more.

I’m looking forward to widening my writing community, making new friends, and meeting writers and editors from all over the country. I’m planning to attend panels led by disabled writers, LGBTQ writers, and writers of color — especially because these voices are so often overlooked or left out of the publishing world (and the world at large). So to see diverse voices and people speak on panels and attend this conference is really heartening.

Also, I’m overjoyed to be speaking on my panel with some amazing editors. We’ll be talking about how to build inclusive writing communities. The panel, “Not Invisible: Editors of Literary Journals Speak Out on Disability and Building Inclusive Writing Communities,” is Friday the 10th at 3 p.m.

Hope to see you there or at the other events!

Literary goals for 2017

I’m starting off January strong! This month, I’ll be participating in two online writing workshops. I’m so grateful I was included in each, and can’t wait to begin what’s going to be a challenging, writing- and reading-filled month.

The first workshop is Lit Mag Love, taught by Rachel Thompson, an online course on how to research, find, and submit to literary magazines. There’s about 50 writers across the world beta testing this course. I love extending my writing community in person and online, and these writers range in age and come from many backgrounds. I’m excited to gain more insight into the publishing world and to offer feedback on the course.

The second is Hollows Shout the Mountain Down, hosted by Monstering and Winter Tangerine magazines, which explores the spectrum of disability. Every participant identifies as disabled. There will be guest seminars from Jillian Weise and Joanna Valente. I can’t wait to delve deep into this workshop and improve my voice and craft in my disability-themed writing, and in general. It will be great to meet other disabled writers, as well, and learn from their experiences and strong writing.

Next month, I’m on a panel at AWP 2017. I’ll be discussing how to build inclusive literary communities with Sheila McMullin, Jill Khoury, Mike Northen, and Sheryl Rivett. The panel is titled “Not Invisible: Editors of Literary Journals Speak Out on Disability and Building Inclusive Writing Communities.” I’m looking forward to our discussion and to continuing this important conversation with others.

I’m hoping to keep this momentum going through the year. I’m working on another collection of poetry. So far it’s chapbook sized, and I’ve sent it out to several small presses. We’ll see what happens with it in several months.

‘Ilana and the science experiment’ published in Crack the Spine 🔬🔭⚗️

Ilana and the science experiment first few paragraphs

Ilana is just a typical seventh grade girl. She buys $1 lipsticks at the store with her friends and spends most of her day in school. She “was a little scared that she’d splutter and bubble on her way to becoming a woman,” but it doesn’t seem as dramatic as her older cousins have made it seem.

It was routine to bleed through all seven class periods for seven days. Until Paul told Ilana periods smelled.

Ilana has to face Paul’s comment, determine if she’s changing irreparably like tossing salt on a slug, or if she’s really able to stay the same while growing up. Read on in “Ilana and the science experiment” published in Crack the Spine.