I’m hosting a book giveaway for a signed copy of Crumb-sized! Who will the lucky winner be?
The giveaway ends October 25th and is open to U.S. readers.
My first book got some love today! Jennifer MacBain-Stephens, herself the author of three poetry collections, reviewed On that one-way trip to Marsin Agape Editions.
Jennifer explains that with the book sectioned into planets in the solar system, reader(s) “quickly realizes how the poems reflect different characteristics of not only planets but people. Each planet possesses a different appearance, has select wants and needs. Each planet holds specific gifts.”
This is something that I wanted to express in the collection. On that one-way trip to Mars didn’t start off in that solar system structure. But slowly as I was piecing the manuscript together, the poems seemed to be broken into chunks of emotion, theme, and voice.
Despite the collection’s title, alluding to an escape, most of Chertock’s words are rooted into the earth, the here and now, the real, the sensual, the fight.
Jennifer also said that “when not in space, Chertock’s poems excel at exploring what lives on the ground,” which I’m so glad to have done even a little bit right. I come from the Earth, so all of my writing is a form of tribute to my home. Even though I’m constantly looking up at the stars, at beyond, I know and love where I come from.
My first book focused on my bone disorder, but was also very ingrained in space and the universe at large. Jennifer writes, “There are doctor visits and tests and pills and pain, but also warrior-like strength and immense love.”
I’m grateful for Jennifer’s thoughtful reflection on my work. You can read the full review here.
Crumb-sized has been out for a month! How did that happen? It’s old enough to move its arms jerkily, squeeze its non-existent hands into fists. I’m a proud book mama.
In its one-month debut, Crumb-sized has already garnered some press. I’m so grateful for the reviews it has received and interviews I have done with editors. Here is a roundup.
The Mighty is an online site, an online community, that publishes stories by people with disabilities, diseases, mental illnesses, and more. Its Who We Are Page states, “Having a disability or disease doesn’t have to be isolating. That’s why The Mighty exists.”
I’m coming out about my invisible disability because now it’s less invisible. Now, it’s very much apparent to others. So, really, this is a late announcement.
My skeletal dysplasia has always been with me, has always been visible to me. It’s not something I was consciously trying to hide from others. Since I’ve been dealing with more intense chronic pain in the last few years, it’s become more visible to others.
My bone disorder was easy to hide as a kid because I had less pain and only limped at the end of a long day of shopping at the mall with friends. I’m 4’6″, so it’s pretty hard to hide that something is different about me. Most people wouldn’t assume I’m a dwarf, but my bone disorder does fall under the vast and varied dwarfism umbrella.
In my article in The Mighty, I wrote about how it’s easy to pass as normal, as someone who doesn’t have daily pain, just like it can be easy to pass as straight if you’re actually LGBT/gay/queer.
It’s pub day for Crumb-sized and I’m over the moon!
Already, Yasmin Gunaratnam has written a beautiful review in the Chicago Review of Books. She calls me a space nerd exploring my inner cosmos — and hits it right on the head.
Marlena Chertock, a self-confessed “space nerd” based in Washington, D.C. “I don’t need you/landing your probes or rovers/or feet on me. I exist without/being catalogued”, declares Chertock from the perspective of the feisty, fiery HD 189733b. Having lived with disability and chronic pain throughout her twenty-five years, Chertock knows about the intrusions of being categorized, probed, and investigated.
Voyaging between her daily life and science, bridging and entangling elements of both, Crumb-sized subverts—or ‘crips’ in the terminology of disability theorists—the putting in place of people with disabilities. Chertock’s particular gift is to play with scale, trying by turns to nudge and push at and ultimately to scatter perspective. You come away enchanted, unsettled, and a little dizzy.
I’m so excited to share my second collection of poetry with you. Crumb-sized is being published by Unnamed Press in August — my birthday month!
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to share another collection of poems with you, and so soon after my first was published.
Crumb-sized is tired of being called short. These poems explore life with a rare bone disorder. They use natural imagery to quantify pain better than the 1 to 10 scale. This is a book about overcoming the challenges you are born with.
Come out on August 23 for a book launch party at East City Bookshop! And look out for other readings in Washington, D.C. and other cities.
Thank you for supporting my writing, my dreams. You all have Jupiter-sized hearts to me.
District Lit, the journal I’m the Poetry Editor for, recently published our Disability Issue. These writers and artists share their raw truths about living with disabilities, chronic pain, invisible illness, and medical treatments. They share intimate medical histories, fears, hopes, pain, and scars.
These are important voices, and I’m so excited and honored to share them. I’ve been wanting to highlight the voices of people with disabilities and chronic illness for a while, and District Lit offered a great home for these important stories and experiences.
These writers and artists share their raw truths. These are vital voices at a time when the Affordable Care Act, healthcare, Medicaid/Medicare, and disability rights are threatened.
These contributors show the disabled and chronically ill body unflinchingly. They show their bodies are valid bodies.
You can also read my and Guest Editor Jen Stein Hauptmann’s Editors’ Note for more background on the issue.
The issue includes artwork by Christine Stoddard and Paul Flippen; nonfiction by: Emma Bolden, Shari Eberts, Kaleb Estes, Jenn A. Garvin, Heather Taylor Johnson, and Amy Wang Manning; and poetry by: D. Allen, Judith Arcana, Roxanna Bennett, J V Birch, Kristene Brown, Aubrie Cox Warner, Katherine Edgren, Robbie Gamble, Jane Ellen Glasser, Joey Gould, Carrie Purcell Kahler, Jen Karetnick, Christoph Keller, Adrian Kresnak, Travis Chi Wing Lau, Sarah Lilius, Jennifer Met, Daniel Edward Moore, David Olsen, Jeff Pearson, Maria Ramos-Chertok, Andrea Rogers, Ruby Stephens, Denise Thompson-Slaughter, and Jessica Tower.
Poet Kaveh Akbar even tweeted that everyone should take time with this important issue. Thanks for your support, Kaveh!
— Kaveh Akbar (@KavehAkbar) July 12, 2017
Please take some time with our Disability Issue.