My book “On that one-way trip to Mars” has been nominated for a 2017 Elgin Award!
I want to thank the Science Fiction Poetry Association for the consideration. The Association’s members nominate books for the award, which is given to the best book and chapbook published in the preceding year. This year’s award chair is Josh Brown.
My sister Hannah and I were accepted into the first ever DC Art + Book Fair! We’ll be sharing a table showcasing our art and writing on November 12 at Lab 1270 in Washington, D.C. There will be dozens of incredible artists, zines, writers, and more!
Hannah will be selling her hand cut bookmaking and journals. A lot of her art uses internal body imagery to bring awareness to disability and chronic pain. View more of Hannah’s work on her Instagram.
I’ll have copies of my book, “On that one-way trip to Mars,” available for sale, plus a space sticker of your choosing. My book is half Voyager mission/traveling through the Solar System, and half exploration of my skeletal dysplasia.
The event is organized by the DC Art Book Fair Collective: Malaka Gharib of The Runcible Spoon zine and The Little Filipino Coloring Book, Alison Baitz of On Flora zine, illustrator LA Johnson of The Intentional, and illustrator Elizabeth Graeber of A Field Guide For Redheads.
Jim Thompson, the founder and poetry editor of Cacti Fur, reviewed “On that one-way trip to Mars.” He called my book an imaginary “tour of our solar system” and “a pleasant balance of narrative and science.”
This review makes me starstruck; I’m so humbled by his words. See you on that one-way trip, Jim!
When you go to Mars, why can’t you come back to visit Earth? What if you don’t like it? Don’t worry, if Chertock is with you … it’s OK, she knows the way.
This book is a mix of detail, dream, David Bowie, confession, resolution and healing.
“On that one-way trip to Mars” is now on Goodreads!
Goodreads is an online community where you can organize and track your reading shelves. You can now add “On that one-way trip to Mars” to your shelves, ask me questions about the book, or leave a review.
And if you still haven’t ordered a copy, there’s no time like now to join the one-way trip journey!
After a brief pause in shipping to update the book, “On that one-way trip to Mars” is Bottlecap Press’ first-ever glossy covered book! Shipping has now resumed.
So if you’ve ordered yours, look out in the mail. If you haven’t yet ordered, there’s no time like now to join the journey to Mars.
Read what others have been saying about the book:
“In her first full-length collection, Marlena Chertock’s keen observations swing from the bodily to the astral, confidently taking on family history and imaginary lovers alike. Chertock leaps to planets and points-of-view other than her own with a sure-footedness wrought by an intimate tone, fresh, direct language and fully articulated images.” -Johnna Schmidt, Director, Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House
“In Marlena Chertock’s debut poetry collection, On that one-way trip to Mars, the poet paints the narrative of a woman with Spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia across the planets of our solar system. Like moving between microscope and telescope, Chertock zooms in to look at this woman’s genes while simultaneously zooming out to search for a life form who will understand her. This book, beautifully written and yet accessible to any reader, provides the very adventure she yearns for.” -Kelly Ann Jacobson, I Have Conversations with You in My Dreams
“The poems of On That One-Way Trip to Mars speak of journeys — far-reaching ones that arc into the celestial, and inward meditations on the failings and transformations of the body. Chertock takes incisive, observant inroads into illness, family, and personal histories, confronting pain and physicality with a voice as aware and alive as a solar beam.” -Rachel Adams, Editor, Lines + Stars
“Chertock’s poignant poems soar across the solar system with humor and heartache landing on each planet with a thud. They tell a story of a poet born with skeletal dysplasia who writes with surprising candor and lives with unshakeable courage on planet Earth. Get ready; put on your space suit and follow Chertock on a remarkable journey into outer space.” -Lalita Noronha, Her Skin Phyllo-thin
These poems travel the solar system, describe my skeletal dysplasia, what it would be like to float in zero gravity and give my bones a break, and how much I want the human race to explore the stars and not end up dead on this planet.
I’ve been working on the collection for over a year. It’s my own version of the Voyager’s Grand Tour.
With each passing year, it’s becoming more of a possibility that NASA or other space agencies will send people to Mars. Some have said it would have to be a one-way trip — to conserve fuel and weight on the rockets. If they had to design a rocket that could launch off Mars and return to Earth, it might be harder. I float in all these obscurities, confusions, fears, and dreams in this collection.
I first started writing when my third grade teacher assigned a fable story. I wrote how the dog got its bark. I was hooked ever since, filling countless journals with ideas, typing stories and saving them on floppy disks, scribbling poems on the Metro. Since university, I’ve managed to publish 33 poems and seven short stories. If you’d asked 8-year-old Marlena if she would be a published writer a few years later, she’d probably get a huge grin on her face and give you a hug.
So, blast into orbit and explore the solar system with me. Discover the genetic material that makes me up, that dictates who I am, how I look, how much my bones ache. Experience space travel, sexual encounters with astronomers, and the increasing warmth of the sun.
Electric Literature published an advice column in early June where a white male poet addressed his privilege head-on and asked if the time for white writers has come to an end.
“I am a white, male poet—a white, male poet who is aware of his privilege and sensitive to inequalities facing women, POC, and LGBTQ individuals. But despite this awareness and sensitivity, I am still white and still male. Sometimes I feel like the time to write from my experience has passed, that the need for poems from a white, male perspective just isn’t there anymore…”
“Sometimes I write from other perspectives via persona poems in order to understand and empathize with the so-called ‘other’; but I fear that this could be construed as yet another example of my privilege—that I am appropriating another person’s experience. Write what you know and risk denying voices whose stories are more urgent; write to learn what you don’t know and risk colonizing someone else’s story. I genuinely am troubled by this.”
The column received lots of response from the literary community, including a lengthy article in The Atlantic.