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.

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.

Upcoming panel for #AWP2017

Not Invisible: Editors of Literary Journals Speak Out on Disability and Building Inclusive Writing Communities

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) hosts a huge writing conference in a different location every year. AWP 2017 is coming to Washington, D.C. next year. So I knew I’d be attending for the first time since it’s my city. But I didn’t know that I’d also be a part of the lineup of amazing events.

I’m thrilled and humbled to have my panel accepted for AWP 2017. The selection process is incredibly selective — and I don’t take the acceptance of this panel lightly. My panel is titled “Not Invisible: Editors of Literary Journals Speak Out on Disability and Building Inclusive Writing Communities.”

I think we’re experiencing a new passion and increased support for the ADA movement and disability rights. That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited to get to discuss this and more at AWP in February 8-11, 2017. I’ll keep you posted about what day and time this panel will be held.

Here’s the full list of accepted events.

Our panel will focus on how disabled writers are often viewed as invisible. Chronic pain can be unseen from the outside. Disabled writers have typically had fewer publishing opportunities than their able-bodied peers. But we’re not invisible — we’re taking up space, writing our experiences, and submitting our work. Literary journals are featuring calls for disabled, neurodivergent, and underrepresented communities. Recently, the Deaf Poets Society was founded to feature disabled writers. Many editors of literary journals are seeking work from diverse and disabled writers. We want to showcase them and their stories. We want to see more of ourselves.

The fabulous Sheila McMullin will moderate the panel. The panelists include: Jill Khoury, Mike NorthenSheryl Rivett, and me. Sheila is the managing editor at VIDA–Women in Literary Arts; Jill is the editor of Rogue Agent; Mike is the editor-in-chief of Wordgathering; and Sheryl is the editor at ROAR Magazine.

I hope to see you at my panel and many others! Early-bird registration is open now.

awp2017panel