‘On that one-way trip to Mars’ is an Elgin Award candidate 🌟

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.

Rikkud and Tinnitus in Tiny Tim Literary Review

I have a few new poems in the Tiny Tim Literary Review, a journal dedicated to normalizing chronically ill/disability narratives and humanizing medical professionals. This is such a necessary journal, and I’m so glad to be seeing more like it in the past few years.

My poem Rikkud is about Israeli folk dancing with pain at summer camp. That’s where the above excerpt comes from. Rikkud was a magical evening where all of the campers and counselors at my summer camp gathered on the dimly lit, cracked basketball court, running and stepping in movements our ancestors might have made. It was a place I felt more Jewish than Hebrew school, than synagogue. Something about the actions connecting me to others, to the past.

I wrote tinnitus in a very different form than I normally write. I have tinnitus, and wanted to give it a more distancing/prescription sort of tone, while still having the poem be accessible to those who don’t constantly hear ringing in their ears.

A few of the other poems were previously published in The Deaf Poets Society and Noble/Gas Quarterly.

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!

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.

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.

2016 reflections

Some 2016 accomplishments I’m proud of:

  • Bottlecap Press published my book On that one-way trip to Mars.
  • More of my disability-themed poetry was published. Thanks The Deaf Poets Society, Noble/Gas Quarterly, The Fem, Wordgathering, Words Dance, and others.
  • I got to talk to so many amazing young scientists and women in STEM for stories with Society for Science & the Public. I’m so glad they’re the future.
  • Tabling with my sister Hannah Chertock at the first-ever @dcartbookfair was so much fun. We sold our art, and met amazing writers/artists.
  • I discussed poetry and diversity in literary magazines on panels at Split This Rock’s poetry festival and the Frostburg Indie Lit Fest.
  • My panel was accepted for AWP 2017. Excited to have conversations about building inclusive communities in publishing and literature.
  • I read poetry in NYC at Berl’s Poetry Shop for a Bottlecap Press featured reading. It’s great to meet poet friends in new places.
  • I got an LGBT short story published by Paper Darts. So happy it found a great home.
  • The first of my Forecast stories, detailing various eco-futures, was published by OMNI Reboot.
  • Moonsick Magazine published my short story on migrants, based on a heartbreaking episode of Story Corps.
  • In 2016, I got 13 poems and 5 stories published. I’m so grateful to each and every one of the online and print magazines that accepted my writing, and that rejected me. My writing has grown from each rejection — and I can’t wait to submit more, hopefully get more acceptances, and probably more rejections, along the way.

Here’s to 2017. To submitting more writing, supporting each other, and speaking up loudly! Happy New Year!

Three poems in Noble/Gas Quarterly

Noble/Gas Quarterly published three of my poems today in their 203.4 issue. I’m honored to be included with so many other great writers.

Application to NASA” is a retelling of my previous poem “On that one-way trip to Mars.” It’s my way of calling NASA out for its height restrictions, of blaming my bone disorder from keeping me from the stars (even though I didn’t actually major in a STEM field or take any path to flight school). These poems are my version of reckoning with the limitations my body and imperfect bones place on me.

I am rotting log of wood” uses natural imagery from forests and trees as another way to understand my body. Trees are often seen as strong, immovable — but cut inside and you’ll see rings with more information. Tree rings show times of drought, temperature, moisture in the atmosphere, and growth the tree endured. I’ve always felt a connection and respect for trees. So I used an extended metaphor of a rotting log of wood as my cartilage-deficient body in a forest full of able-bodies.

Harriet Tubman was disabled” tries to do justice to the amazing Harriet Tubman. Not only did she lead over 300 slaves to freedom, but she did so with a traumatic head injury. This is something we don’t learn when reading history books about her story. I actively work to keep disabled/chronic/invisible illness voices from being erased. This poem is one of my attempts.

Read the full 203.4 issue here.

Another scifi poem blasts into the publishing world

Today, Calamus Journal published my poem “The martian comes to me” in their second issue.

I’m always honored when my poems are accepted for publication in new journals. When a literary journal is just starting up, it’s a magical time. There’s so much possibility, so much slush pile to read through, so much that could go wrong.

When an editor (really, a person who truly believes in literature/poetry/voices/sharing writing, really, just a person) decides to start up a lit mag, it’s no small feat. I’m always impressed by new lit mags starting up and thriving, trying to make themselves heard and create a strong space for good writing, or even failing. It’s an impressive accomplishment to create a lit mag — so thank you, Eric Cline and Trevor Richardson, for sharing your new literary magic with me.

This poem was a fun reflection on transportation, and what another lifeform might think of our messy traffic and the ways we get around.

🚄 It starts on a subway in Paris.

🚌 Moves to a bus in Chile.

🚢 Sinks into depths in a German submarine.

✈️ Takes off in an American airplane.

🚀 All for the martian to find the method of commuting that reminds her most of her spaceship. To find out more about transportation and herself.

You can read the poem here.