I love summer for countless reasons. There’s more time to lounge and read, the days grow longer, my birthday falls in the summer. My spirits are always higher in this season — something about the warmth of the sun on my skin, the fireflies lighting up the night.
When I was a kid, summer vacation also meant summer reading, great for an avid reader like me! That’s stayed constant in my life even after school. I’ve already read lots of books this summer, and plan to finish more.
Also, this summer is jam-packed with poetry readings and literary festivals. Here are some upcoming events that I’m super excited about:
• July 28: I’m a featured reader at The Deaf Poets Society’s reading at Bards Alley in Vienna, Va. at 7 p.m. Bards Alley is a brand-new bookstore in the DMV area, and the DPS literary journal has been doing incredible work at offering a space for D/deaf/disabled writers and artists. There are going to be incredible readers, like Camisha Jones, so make sure to come to this one.
• August 2: As a part of The Ask Rayceen Show, I’m participating in the Authors’ Corner with OutWrite 2017 panelists at the Human Rights Campaign at 7 p.m. There will also be live music, poetry readings, and a burlesque performance.
• OutWrite 2017, August 5:
Hope to see you at some (or all!) of these events! Happy summer (reading)!
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.
I have a few new poems in the Tiny Tim Literary Review, a journal dedicated to normalizing chronically ill/disability narratives and humanizing medical professionals. This is such a necessary journal, and I’m so glad to be seeing more like it in the past few years.
My poem Rikkud is about Israeli folk dancing with pain at summer camp. That’s where the above excerpt comes from. Rikkud was a magical evening where all of the campers and counselors at my summer camp gathered on the dimly lit, cracked basketball court, running and stepping in movements our ancestors might have made. It was a place I felt more Jewish than Hebrew school, than synagogue. Something about the actions connecting me to others, to the past.
I wrote tinnitus in a very different form than I normally write. I have tinnitus, and wanted to give it a more distancing/prescription sort of tone, while still having the poem be accessible to those who don’t constantly hear ringing in their ears.
A few of the other poems were previously published in The Deaf Poets Society and Noble/Gas Quarterly.
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.