Marlena Chertock is a digital storyteller and poet.

Photo by John Consoli.
Photo by John Consoli.

Marlena has two books of poetry, Crumb-sized: Poems (Unnamed Press) and On that one-way trip to Mars (Bottlecap Press). She has had over 130 poems published in literary magazines.

Marlena writes about growing up with a rare skeletal dysplasia. Other common themes in her work include identity, intersectionality, queerness, chronic pain, accessibility, science fiction, and how climate change impacts disabled people. She is an advocate for human rights — including disabled, LGBTQ+, people of color, immigrants and refugees, neurodivergent, incarcerated, and other marginalized folks.

She regularly moderates panels at literary conferences, participates in podcast interviews, facilitates writing workshops, and performs poetry at open mics and reading series. Previously, she served as a Co-Chair of OutWrite, Washington, D.C.’s annual LGBTQ literary festival, and on the board of Split This Rock, a nonprofit that cultivates and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2020. Her poetry and prose has appeared in Breath & Shadow, The Deaf Poets Society, Paper Darts, Rogue Agent, Wordgathering, and more.

Marlena is a writer/editor at UNCF (United Negro College Fund). Previously, she served as the Communications Manager for the Water Program at World Resources Institute. She writes articles for Electrical Contractor Magazine, covering topics such as the power crisis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and how to ensure safe construction sites during COVID-19. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Marketplace, Electrical Contractor Magazine, News21, WTOP, and more.

She is always open for collaborating, meeting writers of all sorts, and geeking out over space and books.


This Maryland Alum’s Poetry is an Out-of-body Experience
An interview with Marlena Chertock, sci-poet extraordinaire
Interview with Poet and Editor Marlena Chertock