I’m heading to Mars right now. I’ve left orbit. This amazing review from Bethany Mary has blasted me off the planet!
Bethany reviewed “On that one-way trip to Mars” in Vagabond City Lit, calling it warm and chilling, covering human emotion and the expanse of the solar system.
She gets the pain I was trying so hard to express somehow, some way.
Neck braces constrict like halos just a little too low. Spines curve so much it is hard to balance.
She is spot on in her assessment that my poems suggest “it is self-centered to believe that we are not sometimes alien.”
That can make being different, being born with skeletal dysplasia, having chronic pain easier to swallow, sometimes. To know that we’re probably not the only ones in this universe, our pain isn’t the only thing going on in the world, there are others beside ourselves.
Haven’t we learned already that we are not the center of the universe? This little poetry book reminds us of that.
Thank you for your beautiful, thoughtful review, Bethany. It means the world and Mars and all of the stars to me.
When your book is out in the world
you start seeing people actually reading it.
One of your old professors rates your book
on Goodreads. It’s actually real. A physical thing
taking up space on people’s bookshelves
or weighing down their backpacks.
Maybe people will read it on the Metro
or a road trip. Maybe they’ll put bookmarks
inside of it, dogear its pages, underline
a favorite line. Make it feel read.
So, if you couldn’t tell, I’m still having trouble processing that my book is real and out there in the world. That’s why I had to write a poem about it. People are buying it, reading it. That’s all a writer could ever hope for.
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.