On that one-way trip to Mars reviewed in Agape Editions

My first book got some love today! Jennifer MacBain-Stephens, herself the author of three poetry collections, reviewed On that one-way trip to Mars in Agape Editions.

Jennifer explains that with the book sectioned into planets in the solar system, reader(s) “quickly realizes how the poems reflect different characteristics of not only planets but people. Each planet possesses a different appearance, has select wants and needs. Each planet holds specific gifts.”

This is something that I wanted to express in the collection. On that one-way trip to Mars didn’t start off in that solar system structure. But slowly as I was piecing the manuscript together, the poems seemed to be broken into chunks of emotion, theme, and voice.

Despite the collection’s title, alluding to an escape, most of Chertock’s words are rooted into the earth, the here and now, the real, the sensual, the fight.

Jennifer also said that “when not in space, Chertock’s poems excel at exploring what lives on the ground,” which I’m so glad to have done even a little bit right. I come from the Earth, so all of my writing is a form of tribute to my home. Even though I’m constantly looking up at the stars, at beyond, I know and love where I come from.

My first book focused on my bone disorder, but was also very ingrained in space and the universe at large. Jennifer writes, “There are doctor visits and tests and pills and pain, but also warrior-like strength and immense love.”

I’m grateful for Jennifer’s thoughtful reflection on my work. You can read the full review here.

Featured in Noble/Gas Quarterly’s Objects of Derision

Noble/Gas Quarterly chose me as their September Objects of Derision feature. They interviewed me about my inspirations for writing Crumb-sized, — being bullied as a kid and somebody actually calling me “smaller than a crumb” — and included four old and new poems.

It should be called womenstruate,” which was first published in Wicked Banshee Press’s The Devil’s Doorbell: Vagina Edition, questions the way menstruation sounds like men. The prefix makes it seem like a male activity or a male word given to such a female part of life. Through periods, women are connected. We seep together.

Unfold me gently,” which was first published in Crumb-sized, uses lyric and imagery to explore what bodies are, what disabled bodies mean.

Migration” is how I feel about borders. They’re imaginary and human-made. We must remember, we don’t really own land. We’ve been migrating and immigrating since the first people could walk. The politics of immigration, of keeping suffering people out, of denying a person’s life, are impossible to ignore and impossible not to grieve. As a poet, I hope I can help by raising awareness in some small way.

The only awkward one” is a brand new poem! I’m working on a book of poetry about my summer camp, and this is a sneak peak.

Thank you, Noble/Gas and Editor-in-Chief Emma Fissenden! And what a great issue 204.3 is!

Crumb-sized in the press 🙏📢

Crumb-sized has been out for a month! How did that happen? It’s old enough to move its arms jerkily, squeeze its non-existent hands into fists. I’m a proud book mama.

In its one-month debut, Crumb-sized has already garnered some press. I’m so grateful for the reviews it has received and interviews I have done with editors. Here is a roundup.

  • Yasmin Gunaratnam wrote a beautiful review in the Chicago Review of Books on publication day. She called me a space nerd exploring my inner cosmos — and hit it right on the head.
  • Mike Northen, the editor of Wordgathering, wrote an extensive review in September. He said I “began carving out a unique space for herself in disability poetry.”
  • Eric Cline, the editor of Calamus Journal, interviewed me about my interest in science-fiction poetry and the power of creating more diverse, representative worlds of the future.
  • Paul Semel interviewed me about my inspirations and why I choose to be radically honest in my writing.
  • Noble/Gas Quarterly chose me as their September Objects of Derision feature. They interviewed me about my inspirations for writing Crumb-sized and included a few new poems.

Interview in Rogue Agent

I was recently interviewed in Rogue Agent’s August issue!

Editor Jill Khoury posed important questions about my journey toward writing poetry that describes the experience of living in a body, the structure of On that one-way trip to Mars, and advice for others who want to explore embodied writing and art.

Read the full interview here.

And when you’re done, make sure to read all the great work in the August issue!

Worthy bodies: Highlighting disabled writers in District Lit

District Lit, the journal I’m the Poetry Editor for, recently published our Disability Issue. These writers and artists share their raw truths about living with disabilities, chronic pain, invisible illness, and medical treatments. They share intimate medical histories, fears, hopes, pain, and scars.

These are important voices, and I’m so excited and honored to share them. I’ve been wanting to highlight the voices of people with disabilities and chronic illness for a while, and District Lit offered a great home for these important stories and experiences.

These writers and artists share their raw truths. These are vital voices at a time when the Affordable Care Act, healthcare, Medicaid/Medicare, and disability rights are threatened.

These contributors show the disabled and chronically ill body unflinchingly. They show their bodies are valid bodies.

You can also read my and Guest Editor Jen Stein Hauptmann’s Editors’ Note for more background on the issue.

The issue includes artwork by Christine Stoddard and Paul Flippen; nonfiction by: Emma Bolden, Shari Eberts, Kaleb Estes, Jenn A. Garvin, Heather Taylor Johnson, and Amy Wang Manning; and poetry by: D. Allen, Judith Arcana, Roxanna Bennett, J V Birch, Kristene Brown, Aubrie Cox Warner, Katherine Edgren, Robbie Gamble, Jane Ellen Glasser, Joey Gould, Carrie Purcell Kahler, Jen Karetnick, Christoph Keller, Adrian Kresnak, Travis Chi Wing Lau, Sarah Lilius, Jennifer Met, Daniel Edward Moore, David Olsen, Jeff Pearson, Maria Ramos-Chertok, Andrea Rogers, Ruby Stephens, Denise Thompson-Slaughter, and Jessica Tower.

Poet Kaveh Akbar even tweeted that everyone should take time with this important issue. Thanks for your support, Kaveh!

Please take some time with our Disability Issue.

Poems in Wicked Banshee Press’s The Devil’s Doorbell: Vagina Edition

I have two poems in Wicked Banshee Press’s The Devil’s Doorbell: Vagina Edition, which was published in March. You can now purchase print copies ($10) or the ebook ($2.99), by emailing wickedbansheepress@gmail.com.

I’m honored to be included in this anthology of women, trans women, non-binary, and non-gender conforming writers. We need to talk more about vaginas, periods, and women (in all their forms).

My poems in this edition are “It should be called womenstruate” and “On it II.” In “It should be called womenstruate,” I discuss the history of the word menstruate, and how the prefix makes it seem like a male activity or a male word given to such a female part of life. Through menstruation, women are connected. We seep together. “On it II” is also a history poem, documenting different girls and women who first get their periods or experience different situations while menstruating, some embarrassing, some empowering.

Buy the Vagina Edition of Wicked Banshee Press.

Interview in Wordgathering

I was recently interviewed in Wordgathering’s June issue!

Editor Mike Northen asked great, difficult questions, including: how I see my role as an editor, what I look for when reading poems for District Lit, how literary magazines can be more accessible to all writers/readers, disability science poetry as a genre, and more.

Read the full interview here.

Poems in Daughter Literary Magazine

I’m so excited to have two poems in Daughter’s inaugural issueDaughter, a new literary magazine focusing on sharing the voices of women or female-identifying people, calls itself a lit mag for all women.

The poems included are “This isn’t a poem about motherhood” and “Recipe to reduce pain.”

“This isn’t a poem about motherhood” (pg. 22-23) is about pregnancy when you have chronic pain. “Recipe to reduce pain” (pg. 32-33) lists rituals of self-care, like taking a long, hot epsom salt bath.

Read them here.

Poems in The Deaf Poets Society’s ‘Crips In Space’ issue

I’m over the moon about The Deaf Poets Society’s newest issue, called “Crips In Space,” which includes eight of my poems. The journal, its editors, and these writers/artists are bringing disability and the disabled into the final frontier.

Make sure to read the editor’s note to see how the idea for a #CripsInSpace issue formed. The guest editors for this issue were Alice Wong, a disability rights activist, and Sam de Leve, a writer and wheelchair athlete. They brought important perspectives and ideas to the special issue.

My poems included in “Crips In Space” are:

  • On that one-way trip to Mars
  • Application to NASA
  • Moon, or no moon
  • The martian comes to me
  • A speck of pain
  • I give a cosmic middle finger
  • Aging with the solar system
  • You magnify the universe

Read them all here.

Sharing poetry with scientists and the public

Seven-foot-tall banners of various poems.
Seven-foot-tall banners of various poems.

I had a fantastic time bringing poetry to scientists and the public during today’s Science March in Washington, D.C.

Leading a poetry teach-in for those who write and those who never knew poetry could be science-themed was so fulfilling. And even though it was pouring rain, the weather brought more people into our tent, who ultimately took up a pen and paper to try erasure, writing about insects, or personifying nature, storms, or planets. I’d estimate about 200 people came through the Poets for Science tent during our poetry teach-ins.

Many people stopped by our tent to learn how to write science-themed poetry.
Many people stopped by our tent to learn how to write science-themed poetry.

I want to thank Jane Hirshfield for coming up with this incredible idea, Split This Rock and Sarah Browning for recommending me as one of the workshop leaders, the Wick Poetry Center for their great staff and banners, and all the local poets who led workshops and made this such an incredible event! This was a great space where we made connections between science and poetry — because, truly, the two go hand-in-hand. They are intertwined.

Science is full of images, minute details, precision. And so is poetry. They are both vivid, raw representations of our natural world.

Jane Hirshfield was the mastermind behind Poets For Science. Honored to have met and worked with her.
Jane Hirshfield was the mastermind behind Poets For Science. Honored to have met and worked with her.

For those who couldn’t make it to the Science March or our tent, here are the workshops and poetry banners. Keep writing.