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

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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!

‘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.

When your book is out in the world

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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.