Coming out about my invisible disability

Last month, I had an article published in The Mightycalled “Why I’m Coming Out About My Invisible Disability.”

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.

Read the full article.

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Worthy bodies: Highlighting disabled writers in District Lit

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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!

Please take some time with our Disability Issue.

Summer reading ☀️📚

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’sreading 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.

Ask Rayceen Show August 2017• August 2: As a part of The Ask Rayceen ShowI’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.

Queer Enough panel at OutWrite 2017•  OutWrite 2017, August 5:

Hope to see you at some (or all!) of these events! Happy summer (reading)!

Poems in Daughter Literary Magazine

I’m so excited to have two poems in Daughter’s inaugural issueDaughter, a new literary magazine focusing on sharing the voices of women or female-identifying people, calls itself a lit mag for all women.

The poems included are “This isn’t a poem about motherhood” and “Recipe to reduce pain.”

“This isn’t a poem about motherhood” (pg. 22-23) is about pregnancy when you have chronic pain. “Recipe to reduce pain” (pg. 32-33) lists rituals of self-care, like taking a long, hot epsom salt bath.

Read them here.

District Lit seeks work for our Disability, Medicine, and Illness issue

District Lit is currently accepting poetry and creative nonfiction for our themed issue on Disability, Medicine, and Illness. We have Jen Stein Hauptmann, Assistant Editor at Rogue Agent, as a guest judge reading for this issue.

While District Lit is always open to work from writers with disabilities, this themed issue will highlight poetry and nonfiction about living with disability, illness, or medical treatments. We want writing and art about chronic illness, disability (visible and invisible), medical histories and procedures, recovery, and the body in all its forms. Send us your rawest poetry, powerful CNF, and embodied art.

The deadline is March 15, 2017.

Please submit your work.

That’s a wrap on AWP 2017

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Wow. AWP is over. I am exhausted, and sick (who gave me this cold?!), and heartened by the writing community I’m a part of.

This was my first AWP, and it is just as massive as it sounds. About 15,000 writers, editors, publishers, university professors, etc. attended. It’s like an entire city converging on D.C. for several days, spreading infestations of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, translation, and more.

I’m so grateful that I was able to meet several editors of literary journals who have been so kind to publish me. Meeting fellow editors and writers in person is such a wonderful experience. If I missed you, know that you mean so much to me. I really enjoy broadening my writing community — especially in these times, we need each other more than ever.

I tried to attend as many panels on disability and accessibility in writing as I could — unfortunately, I could not attend them all. I had to listen to my body, pace myself, take breaks, and find some time to eat. The off-site events, too, were supportive spaces, especially the Kick Ass Women Kick Ass reading, Split This Rock’s candlelight vigil for free speech, and the Inner Loop’s joint reading with District Lit, Sakura Review, and the Boiler Journal.

Here’s my roundup:

  • It’s the End of the World as She Knows It: Apocalypse Poetry by Women
  • The Politics of Queering Characters
  • Beautiful Mysteries: Science in Fiction and Poetry (got some sweet STEM temp tats from this panel)
  • Body of Work: Exploring Disability, Creativity, and Inclusivity
  • Audio Drama and Podcasting: The Future is Now 2.0
  • Not Invisible: Editors of Literary Journals Speak Out on Disability and Building Inclusive Writing Communities
  • Page Meets Stage with Carolyn Forché, Sarah Kay, and Derrick Brown
  • Writing With and About Dis/Ability, Dis/Order, and Dis/Ease
  • Reading and Conversation with Aracelis Girmay, Tim Seibles, and Danez Smith

Read some of my thoughts on these panels on my Twitter by searching #AWP17 on my timeline.

On Friday, I had a vital and challenging conversation on my panel about disability, accessibility, and building inclusive writing communities. Listening to and talking with Jill Khoury, Mike Northen, Sheryl Rivett, and Sheila McMullin was so powerful.

Mike summed it up when he said, “As editors, we’re always walling someone off.” As gatekeepers, how do we check our privileges and biases and make sure to open the door to others, especially disabled writers, women writers, LGBTQ writers, writers of color, and more. These voices are so often overlooked and left out of publishing. We discussed some ways we try to do this. And I’m always open to hearing how to improve and keep building more inclusive (writing) communities.

Thank you to all who attended our panel and asked important questions. Thank you to VIDA for sponsoring, and to Sheila for planning and leading our panel.