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.

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.

Tabling with my sister at the DC Art + Book Fair

hannahrenaephotography
One of Hannah’s intricate hand cut pieces.

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.

dc art book fair poster with names of tablers

We hope to see you there!

‘How to feel beautiful’ in The Deaf Poets Society

howtofeelbeautiful_deafpoetssociety

My poem “How to feel beautiful” was published today in The Deaf Poets Society. It’s a reflection on chronic pain.

This poem rejects the notion that we have to be pretty above all else. Beauty is a feeling. When you’re in constant pain, sometimes it’s hard to smile, get out of bed, go to work, deal with other people. But this is something those with chronic pain and disabled people do every single day.

Tell yourself you’re beautiful
so you start feeling it.

That is why the poem ends in space, outside the world. It ends in our blood and the stars. Because even with chronic pain, even if you are blind or deaf, even if you are an amputee, even if you are neurodivergent, even if you feel like all your spoons are full and spent, even then

your blood is still
made up of iron from ancient stars.

Thanks for reading.

‘Body remembers’ in The Fem

For the past year, I’ve been suffering from intense lower back pain that also causes numbness in my right foot. This pain was different from anything I’ve experienced.

Although I was born with skeletal dysplasia, and have a bad case of scoliosis, my back never bothered me. Until last year. When it hit me hard.

For one week, I was flat on my back, unable to sit or stand because doing so exacerbated my pain. For a while, I felt like I’d be stuck there on my bed for the rest of my life.

I had X-rays, an MRI, several doses of steroids. I’ve seen many doctors who’ve offered me differing opinions — your pain will go away, it will just take time, it’s a long process, your numbness may never go away, you’ll be like this forever. Welcome to the new you.

You’ll be like this forever. Welcome to the new you.

So, of course, I wrote about it. My latest piece about the body, “Body remembers,” was published in The Fem on May 11. It is a history of the mutation of my COL2A1 gene — how my bone disorder affects different parts of my body. And how resilient this particular mutation is — it tries very hard to get passed on to children.

In the poem, I compare this chronic pain to office supplies, like a tangled rubber band ball or sharp paper clips because I first started experiencing it in an office setting. I was trying to place the reader in a swivel chair, seated in front of a computer screen, starting to feel pangs in their own back.

Pain is a full-body experience.

I also explore the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life — worse than this ongoing back pain and foot numbness — an ear infection I got after I flew with a cold. This ear infection made me lose my hearing for a good two weeks. And there’s not much you can do to alleviate internal ear pain. You just lay there, feeling as if you’ll never be pain-free again.

Today, I’m not stuck on my bed. I’m working full-time, going to poetry workshops, and marketing my book!

When you’re in the midst of pain, it affects you completely. Pain is a full-body experience that tires people out. Luckily for me, it ebbs and flows. And I’m able to say “take that” in pain’s face and write about it.