ISSUE 33
CONTENTS

DECEMBER 2017


Sarah Nichols
Jennie Frost
Anthony DiPietro
INTERVIEW: Camisha L. Jones
Annie Pittman
Jen Dracos-Tice
Evan Reynolds
ART: Bill Wolak
Marlena Chertock
Liv Mammone
Jen Coleman


CONTRIBUTORS

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Sarah Nichols

I WOKE UP, I FOUND HER, THAT'S ALL I KNOW
                                                
Breaking Bad“ABQ”

 

In that part of the morning
called night, I jerk awake

in an empty bathtub.

A pill as small as my fingernail

carried me into the undertow. Drowning

never feels like drowning here.

No calls for help, as the sea

drains itself and leaves me dry.

I don’t know how I came back
to shore.

If it’s home.


Jennie Frost

I'M NOT BUTCH ENOUGH FOR YOU, PETER PAN
 

I’m not femme enough, either.
I can’t bottom for you, Peter Pan.

Don’t have a dick to top you with,
only this body I’ve always had,

the one that’s getting too old for you,
Peter Pan, the one that’s too round.

I’m not butch enough for you, Peter Pan,
not butch enough for myself.

I wish someone would call me a dyke, Peter Pan,
I wish someone would call me their man.

When you imagine me naked, Peter Pan,
do you imagine me hard? Do you

imagine me wet? Do you imagine
me hot for you, Peter Pan, do you

want me to be hot for you, Peter Pan?
When you feel my chest, Peter Pan,

do you want there to be muscles,
or are these breasts good enough for you, Peter Pan?

Can you tell who I am underneath all this fat?
Can you tell who I’m not?

Would you want me, Peter Pan, if I was a girl?
Would you want me if I wasn’t anything at all?


Anthony DiPietro

MAKE LOVE TO ME AND ONLY ME IN THE DARK
                                     
—Rufus Wainwright, "The One You Love"

I meet my lover’s twin brother, his mirror
for the first time at Singing Beach.
The scars and lines

of childhood mark them different,
same body hair pattern.
The one I love walks without a turn,

carefree, his eyes on the sea.
Photography is both men’s talent.
My lover tunes his colors

to extreme degree,
his world cartoon-bright and loud.
His twin likes still life:

unpeopled, unbirded, his frames full of clouds.
The ravenous brother,
right-handed with a melancholy

mouth, sucks ice coffee
through a straw, moves one foot closer
to me. We spend minutes alone in the car,

his voice a trombone, his diction
precise: these are emotions.
He wants me to know what they are.

When we dine, he asks my favorite red wine.
Pinot noir, I answer, and he orders one.
I expect he will offer me some.

He curates dessert, cherry-topped pastries,
lady fingers. Empathy must be
a muscle. I feel my biceps rise, forearms

fill with blood, hamstrings and buttocks unable
to be still. After coffee and smoke we go
to the same dark room,

warm as a womb. By the window
in a small bed snores the twin.
Against my flesh, my lover melts.

How to soothe the snoring?
What will happen
if I cross to him? In the morning,

my lover, instantly awake,
speaks with looks only. He’s where
I drink and eat, I exercise and rest, I open

and pour myself in. His skin’s
a moat around him I know now
I’ll never breach and swim, never find

a wounded sadness to match mine. We move
beneath the covers, wanting to make love,
even with the breathing mirror

in the corner, which is both madness
and a cure for madness,
but there isn’t time.


Camisha L. Jones talks about embodied poetry
and writing Flare

 

Please describe your journey toward writing poetry that reflects on the experience of living in the body. Have you always written this way, or did you come to it over time?

My body led me here and it’s definitely taken time.

I think my first body-focused poem was about fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed in 2001. Most of the pain was concentrated in my hands and at the time I had a freelance job writing an organization’s history. I was also working full-time and helping to care for two small children. That first official flare meant walking away from the freelance job, the first I had as a writer. It felt so unfair, that this sense of calling to write was being limited by my own body. On a spiritual level, the pain targeting my hands felt like an attack. It’s been hard to process that emotional pain and it took a long time to write my first poem about it. It was probably around 2007 or so.

Since moving to the DC area in 2013, I’ve experienced the most frequent and intense flares of fibromyalgia and Ménière's Disease that I have in my life. It’s completely changed how I see myself. I used writing to navigate that challenging transition.

Writing "Ode to the Chronically Ill Body" was a turning point. It was not written to share with anyone. It was me giving myself permission to say what seemed wrong to say out loud. Part of why I wrote that poem was this feeling that no one – not even my very supportive spouse Anthony – truly understood what I was going through. I looked “healthy” and “fine” even when I was in excruciating pain, even when my ability to hear was completely gone. I kept pushing my way through, even though I was carrying this sense of terror over what was happening to me.

When I shared "Ode to the Chronically Ill Body" with Anthony for the first time, I could barely speak above a whisper. I began to weep half-way through it. It was the beginning of taking back my sense of power and naming what I was going through for myself despite the sense that I “should” stay silent.

Finding my voice as someone living with hearing loss and chronic pain has helped me press my way through feelings of isolation and connect me to others who have similar experiences as mine. Those connections have shown me that I don’t have to see myself as broken. What’s actually broken is society’s allegiance to ableism. And that awareness fuels my commitment to deepening my understanding of disability issues and breaking the silence around them.

Among others, the poem “Haunted” renders so perfectly the experience of anxiety that springs from having a body with disabilities trying to move within a society built for the able-bodied. How do you think the relationship between anxiety and disability operates, either in your poems or in daily life?

It’s taken a long time to write a poem I felt confident in that addressed the issue of anxiety – likely because of anxiety! For me, anxiety and disability especially overlap in terms of expectations. I tend to be a perfectionist so I have high standards for myself. I have this voice inside – I picture her pulling at her hair, standing on chairs, shouting to make her points – that sees imminent catastrophe and failure at every turn. Disability complicates those fears because, well, some of those concerns that inner voice screams about are very real.

As someone living with disability and chronic pain, I’m just not able to do things like some other people or even like I used to be able to. I have brain fog, vertigo, episodes of pain and hearing loss to contend with. Each of these things can intrude on my life at any time so that feeds my sense of uncertainty about many things: Am I able to drive myself from place A to B? If I want to participate in a poetry slam, will I be able to understand the rules when they are explained to me in a noisy venue? Will I misunderstand a question asked of me and say/do something embarrassing in response? Will I get vertigo just as I’m performing a poem on stage? Will I be able to do anything fast enough in this society devoted to speed and busy-ness? If I accept all the poetry gigs offered to me how much pain will I have to endure afterward? If I don’t accept gigs, will I become irrelevant?

I carry lots of uncertainties within me and the challenge is to cultivate an inner voice with more confidence and boldness than the one that operates out of fear. When I tune in too much to that anxious voice, it immobilizes me or shows up as self sabotage, keeping me from writing, from engaging with others, from believing in my own power.

On the other hand, that inner voice has lots of imagination that can be harnessed into poems. And the challenges my body presents are constantly teaching me the importance of balance and rest, both really good things for managing anxiety.

Flare cover.jpg

Purchase Flare
from Finishing Line Press
.

I am extremely drawn to the poems “Acoustics Test” and “Ménière's Flare” because I too am interested in issues of performance and the disabled/unruly body. In “Acoustics Test,” the audiologist is continuously evaluating the speaker, and the speaker feels the compulsion to pass every test. “Say the word ‘mouse-trap’ / Say that the cheese I’ve been chasing is inclusion / Say my life is a sitcom / And I’m scared to be caught acting / With the right lines in the wrong scene.” How does the issue of performance impact you, either in your poems or in daily life? How does being a woman of color add further facets to it?

I think immediately of one of the earliest poems I wrote about Ménière's Disease, “The Sound Barrier.” When I wrote that poem, I was discovering over and over that if I asked someone to repeat themselves more than two times, they generally said “Nevermind” and walked away. I hated that! My curiosity just couldn’t stand it. And it always made me feel like that person walking away felt I wasn’t worth the extra effort. No one likes feeling that way.

There’s a line in “The Sound Barrier” that says: “…I pretend to hear when I don’t./I shake my head ‘yes’ when the answer should be ‘huh!?’” I’ve done this so often that now it’s just instinctual. It’s a habit I want to break but it is also a survival technique. I just don’t always have the emotional energy to handle able-bodied people’s discomfort, lack of patience, or frustration with my inability to understand them.

There is this performance demand to stay silent and not make waves. I’m constantly aware of the fact that if I talk “too much” about my conditions, I might be seen as “whining” or wanting attention. I might not be chosen for a job or seen as capable. People might make assumptions about me that are not true. I won’t be seen as “normal,” like there’s any actual norm that could fit any of us.

So, more often than anyone knows, I push through the pain and episodes of hearing loss without saying a word. I appear able-bodied, even though I am hard of hearing and have chronic pain, and this too, perhaps -- especially in my silence -- is a type of performance I carry.

I find myself constantly contending with the performance demand to keep up with standards of competence that just don’t fit my life. For instance, as a Black woman, I was raised to understand that working twice as hard as White people is how I am to show competence. The idea of “Black excellence” is deeply intertwined with the demand to be on one’s “grind” (i.e. in constant motion in pursuit of one’s goals). These standards leave little room for the work/life balance and self-care my body requires and too often they drive me to overextend myself.

I grew up in Black Baptist churches and there’s something I want to say about that that I believe to be relevant to this topic. In my experience, church folk prefer talking about disability in the context of testimony, something you overcome through prayer and belief.  I am supposed to “speak life” over my circumstances. I’m supposed to believe I am healed, right now in Jesus name. I’ve begun to see this also as a performance demand. And it isn’t that I don’t believe in the power of supernatural healing. It’s that I know my life is a miracle right now and my God is with me right now sustaining me through it all. It’s that I know what’s needed healing most in me is the very idea that I am broken.

ACOUSTICS TEST
 

Say the word “pan-cake”
            pan-cake
Say the word “birth-day”
            birth-day
Say the word, “base-ball”
            base-ball

This is a test

It’s me up at bat
An audiologist on the mound
Pitching words to me slow
So I can catch them

This is a test
Random as “it” may be
With no cause or cure, I am here
Because of what I can’t hear

Say the word, “play-ground”
As far as Ménière's Disease is concerned
I am all swings and sliding boards|
Stuck on the merry-go-round of vertigo, hearing loss, ear noise

Say the word “door-knob”
I am as deaf as one most days
Entering conversations only to be lost in them
My hearing never turns or unlocks completely

Say the word “dead-bolt”
Hearing
The faculty or sense by which sound is perceived
I perceive sound as code I can’t always break

Say the word “jail-house”
I got no way to escape these ringing ears
The clanging against the bars
Dividing me from comprehension, from community

I say the word “side-walk”
Watch the wet pavement of hearing loss
Swallowing the weight of my aspirations
Then I say the word “mail-man”
Wait for these tests to deliver
Something worth repeating
            A life-boat
            An air-plane
To save me from all this set-back

Say the word, “mouse-trap”
Say that the cheese I keep chasing is inclusion
Say my life is a sitcom
And I’m scared to be caught acting
With the right lines in the wrong scene

What will critics say about me then

Will they say the word “use-less”
Or “bro-ken” or “mis-fit”

And I know these aren’t nouns
But Ménière's has a way
Of stripping the noun out of “hu-man”
Reducing me          to lesser adjectives
Reducing me          to echo

Please share with our readers a list of 5-10 books you think we should read right now.

I’d like to use this as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on some recent books by my Split This Rock colleagues:

1. Killing Summer by Split This Rock Executive Director Sarah Browning

2. The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Split This Rock Board Member Sonya Renee Taylor

3. Don’t Call Us Dead by Split This Rock Board Member Danez Smith

4. Beast Girl & Other Origin Myths and The Poet X (forthcoming in 2018) by Elizabeth Acevedo, Former Coach for Split This Rock’s DC Youth Slam Team

5. The January Children by Safia Elhillo, Former Teaching Artist for Split This Rock Youth Writers’ Guild

6. Death by Sex Machine by Franny Choi, Member of Split This Rock’s Festival Curatorial Committee

7. Counting Descent by Clint Smith, Member of Split This Rock’s Festival Curatorial Committee

8. Haint by Teri Cross Davis, Member of Split This Rock’s Festival Curatorial Committee and Advisory Committee

9. Incendiary Art (or one of my personal favorites Teahouse of the Almighty) by Patricia Smith, Member of Split This Rock Advisory Committee

10. The Scientific Method by Kim Roberts, Member of Split This Rock’s Advisory Committee

Some Rogue Agent fans are just beginning to explore what making art about the body would look like for them. What advice would you give to someone just starting down the path toward writing poetry that features the body?

Be honest. Follow the strongest emotions you’re feeling and see what lies beneath them. When fear shows up, be honest. Listen to what the body has to say. It has its own voice, its own motives and desires. Let it say what it needs to say through you. Don’t think about anyone who might read the poem. Release yourself from thinking about anything but you and the page. Give yourself room to just get it out. Decide later what to do with it and if you want to share it. Read other authors that write about the body. Read poems that surprise you enough to gasp out loud. Let those poems be inspiration but not a standard for who you have to be as a writer. Find your own path.

Camisha L Jones - Photo by Naji R Copeland Sr.jpg

Camisha L. Jones is author of the poetry chapbook Flare (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and a recipient of a 2017 Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship from The Loft Literary Center. Through both, she breaks silence around issues of invisible disability as someone living with hearing loss and chronic pain. Her poems can be found at Button Poetry, The Deaf Poets Society, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Typo, Rogue Agent, pluck!, Unfolding the Soul of Black Deaf Expressions, and The Quarry, Split This Rock’s social justice poetry database. She is also published in Let’s Get Real: What People of Color Can’t Say and Whites Won’t Ask about Racism (StirFry Seminars & Consulting, Inc., 2011), Class Lives: Stories from Across Our Economic Divide (ILR Press, 2014), and The Day Tajon Got Shot (Shout Mouse Press, 2017). She is Managing Director at Split This Rock, a national non-profit in DC that cultivates, teaches, and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. Find her on Facebook as Poet Camisha Jones, on Twitter as 1Camisha, on Instagram as 1camisha, and online at her blog.

(Photo by Naji R Copeland, Sr.)


Annie Pittman

ARS POETICA, FAILING
                                     
—for Victoria

Tonight, as I’m tending my pages,
the power goes out—
the whole complex, even streetlights
put to rest. Here at the edge of town,
the mountains are just silhouetted
lumps on what in a few hours
            we’ll call horizon.
I’ve forgotten what this kind of quiet
will do to a body. I take
a sponge bath at the sink.
How false the flashlight seems,
propped on a towel rack
& shining in the bathroom mirror,
too white like those new
halogen headlights I hate
& as they might find strewn
on the side of the highway—
            I am a speckled fawn
when dried bits of toothpaste
on the mirror are reflected
as tiny shadows against
my bare chest, dappling
my breasts with astral matter, 
nipples flecked planets of rust,
skin constellated into
something beautiful. Something
            I am trying to love.
Surely there’s a metaphor here
about having no light
as I tied the ends of my poems
together like prayer flags.
What I’m trying to find
the right passage of light
into, what I’m not saying
            is that V. is still dying.
On the way to the doctor’s office
the morning she’d learn
the prognosis, she sent me
a picture of the sunrise—
sky swelling with pink
as the cancer was doing
in her head, that quiet
awakening. Now it’s climbing
down her brain stem
& each visit the doctor
hands her new scans
of grief less time & now
            I am angry at the first
dumb flowers
of this spring—how quickly
they’ve already dried.
V. says she didn’t know
it would hurt when her hair fell out,
didn’t expect to feel each strand
abandoning its follicle.
            Tell me,
what lights here—what sacred
growth, my friend on the table
where they radiate her skull,
cells blooming her crown—
my words can’t touch? Not enough
to kiss the biopsy scars,
as if my lips could
somehow take her back
pre-op, back to the place
of unknowing, as if
darkness unprodded
is easier than the darkness we name.


Jen Dracos-Tice

ODE TO THE SHINGLES ON MY RIGHT HIP
                               

You lengthen like a new mother’s
stretch-marks branch, like a bulb’s
fingers reach beneath and above.
You observe the centerline, never
crossing my spine, you good girl.

As a kid I slept and turned on damp
sheets while my brother opened
creaky casements, knocking window
weights muffled behind wood
and a century of paint. He jumped
to concrete below, absorbing
shock into foot, belly, hands
planted on the drive before springing
into a sprint.

You, my personal nerve-end
bouquet, you singe my skin
so I can’t sit, must
wear skirts whose very flutter
scalds. I know I feel

too much, as it is, but you seemed
so hopeful as you blossomed
from that childhood seed,
only to pink, bleed, scab
upon contact with the wind.


Evan Reynolds

[VOLUNTARY COMMITMENT]       

“I’m not just talking about one person, I’m talking about everybody, I’m talking about form…”
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

the I checks into the hospital to avoid the world. voices spin tales around
the life of the I. the I is sick. the I is imperious. the I is as sanctimonious as
the shrink (almost). the I hates you all. the I doesn’t even know you. the I
swells with rage like a blister on the verge of popping. the I is irrational.
the I is systematic, schematized. the I absorbs the pressures from the
outside to conform. the I mistakes a conspiracy against the I for its
conspiracy against itself. the I is ambivalent to the self. the I craves
subjugation & humiliation. the I holds the key to its own prison.


Bill Wolak

 

LOVE ENTERS THROUGH A SMILE

2 Love Enters Through a Smile .jpg
 

BECKONING LIKE A CRACK IN PORCELAIN

4 Beckoning Like a Crack in Porcelain .jpg
 

THE PERFUME'S MIRROR

5 The Perfume's Mirror .jpg
 

Artist statement:

I make collages out of all kinds of materials.  Most are made out of paper engravings. Many collages are digitally generated or enhanced.  To begin a piece, I select some sources—either color or black and white. If I’m using  magazines or prints or old books, I cut out some images or parts of images that interest me. Then I start working on a background or some other sort of chance construction. Much is left to fleeting insights. These are tiny miracles of inspiration. Depending on whether I’m using scissors and glue or digital images, each collage could take several hours. Sometimes it takes several days or even weeks to know if a collage is finished. Much depends on the kind of collage and the size.


Marlena Chertock

MY BODY IS AS OLD AS PRECAMBRIAN EARTH
 

My body is as old as precambrian earth,
its tectonic plate shifts sound
like the big bang. Bacteria-me
floats in the hypoxia sea.
I’m multicellular, but not living
a full life. I burrow in the mud,
enriching the sea with oxygen
by hiding my ancient body.

This oxygen encourages evolution
of soft-bodied creatures.
sponges, worms, mollusks,
horseshoe crabs. My body
is from the earliest eon,
its pre-bones dusty with decay.
I’m the first animals
that built coral reefs, my calcium

carbonate exoskeleton melts
into the others. Coral will last
until homo sapiens
bleach me.
Pangaea took three phases
to breakup during my ancient life.

My body lasts eons, endures
millennia more before it breaks.


Liv Mammone

OPEN LETTER TO FRIDA KAHLO
 

Dear Frida,

There must be an thousand of us -- bourgeois
gringitas calling your soul from flying with Diego.
But I want to hold hands
with myself as you have done.
I think I have two hearts, like the second you,
remember--all lace and bloodflowered?
But the salt licorice under my breast
slugs out my bedroom window towards--what?
Can you forgive a Gringolandian princess if she claims
kinship of black toes and ivory whorls of scar?
I cut my hair, too, Frida; I was a father's
half son girl. Now my crutches
are fusing to hooves. I'm pushing
some other woman out of me, too, while bedsheets
cover my face. I'm not who I was but you called that birth.
Tobascosweet patron saint; bitter, bright,
plaster-casted butterfly,
teach me to work through pain.
Been wearing these clothes three days, Frida;
no poems, just pills and lead eyelids.
I can't stand, and when I can,
can't get the smell of bedridden off.
I'm a sick girl. I need a Sick Lady Mother.
I want budgie sons and hairless dog daughters.
I want costumes like yours to cover what's withering.
Can I be a dress fluttering  against skyline?
Can you turn me into a pile of fruit, Frida, a watermelon
so open people smell it on canvas?
Tell me how to dance when feet are chopped away.
I used to run in summer, Frida, used to dance and swim
as if the year threw its doors open.
Now they stay painted shut like an inviting, uncut wrist.
Teach me how to grow in the barren.
Call me niña and tell me I can still feed the earth
propped on this pillow?
I see the skeleton over the bed. How did you make him a thin,
jangling brother? Before I knew anything about you, I envied
your proud neck; your say it to my face gaze.
Should've known. How could those be anything
but a crippled woman's eyes?
My legs are blue, Frida. Not the deep breath, hopeful
cerulean of the house in Coyoacán, but a drowning victim’s skin.
What did the water give you, Frida?
How did you lift the brush
when your back was broken?
Can you teach me joy, Frida? Please?


Jen Coleman

LOVE SONG WITH EXISTENTIAL CRISIS
 

I am floating on synthetic hormones,
slick as oil on a black ocean.

If I’d left my body to its own devices,
by now there’d be no more devices.

You have your own translucent monsters
whose tentacles’ grip you must break.

(It’s only a matter of time
before any of us sink.)

I come to you with swollen eyelids
and scalloped tongue.

I come to you skeletal, a modern
miracle, raw-nerved, done.

These waves will crash, face them
or not. But face them with me.


Issue 33 Contributors

 

Marlena Chertock has two books of poetry, Crumb-sized (Unnamed Press, 2017) and On that one-way trip to Mars (Bottlecap Press, 2016). She lives in Washington, D.C. and serves as the poetry editor of District Lit. Marlena is a graduate of the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House and uses her skeletal dysplasia and chronic pain as a bridge to scientific poetry. Her poems and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Breath & ShadowThe Deaf Poets SocietyThe FemPaper DartsWordgathering, and more. Find her at marlenachertock.com or @mchertock.

Jen Coleman has been a finalist for The Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships and the Zone 3 Press First Book Award, and she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Lambda Literary Poetry SpotlightNew Welsh ReviewThe Southeast Review, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA from Hollins University. She teaches undergraduate English in Virginia, where she lives with her wife and cats.  

Anthony DiPietro is a New England native who worked for 12 years in nonprofit organizations on issues such as violence, abuse, and income inequality. Last year, he moved to Eastern Long Island and joined Stony Brook University as a candidate for an MFA in poetry. A graduate of Brown University with honors in Creative Writing, his poems have appeared or in The Woman IncTalking RiverAssaracusThe American Journal of Poetry, and The Southampton Review.

Jen Dracos-Tice s a writer and teacher who lives in Atlanta with her wife and three kids. She has published poetry in Still: The Journal (2016 Judge’s Choice Award), Something’s Brewing, Melancholy Hyperbole, and All We Can Hold (online feature poems). She is also the recipient of the 2012 Poetry Prize from the Atlanta Writers’ Club. Jen can be reached at jendracostice@gmail.com.

Jennie Frost is a queer, non-binary poet from Maryville, TN.  They are an MFA candidate at the University of Mississippi. Their poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Border Crossing, Kudzu, Glass Mountain, Indicia, Stirring, and more. They are a dedicated member of the LGBTQ+ community and a human rights activist focusing on sexual assault prevention. Their poetry ranges from general discomfort to slutty/sad. 

Camisha L. Jones is author of the poetry chapbook Flare (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and a recipient of a 2017 Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship from The Loft Literary Center. Through both, she breaks silence around issues of invisible disability as someone living with hearing loss and chronic pain. Her poems can be found at Button Poetry, The Deaf Poets Society, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Typo, Rogue Agent, pluck!, Unfolding the Soul of Black Deaf Expressions, and The Quarry, Split This Rock’s social justice poetry database. She is also published in Let’s Get Real: What People of Color Can’t Say and Whites Won’t Ask about Racism (StirFry Seminars & Consulting, Inc., 2011), Class Lives: Stories from Across Our Economic Divide (ILR Press, 2014), and The Day Tajon Got Shot (Shout Mouse Press, 2017). She is Managing Director at Split This Rock, a national non-profit in DC that cultivates, teaches, and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. Find her on Facebook as Poet Camisha Jones, on Twitter as 1Camisha, on Instagram as 1camisha, and online at her blog. 

Liv Mammone is an editor and poet from Long Island, New York; where she lives with her parents, brother, and family of feral cats. She’s a two time nominee for 2016’s Best of the Net poetry anthology. Her poetry has appeared in the anthologies QDA: a Queer, Disabled AnthologyGrabbing the AppleThe Careless Embrace of the Boneshaker, as well as being forthcoming in Monstering. As a spoken word poet, she has featured at Artists Without Walls, Stonybrook University, and Union Square Slam. In 2017, She became the first visibly disabled person to be on a New York City slam team and appeared in the play The Fall of All Atomic Angels at the Public Theater as part of a festival that was named Best of Off Off Broadway by Time Out Magazine.  

Sarah Nichols lives and writes in Connecticut. She is the author of four chapbooks, including Dreamland for Keeps (Porkbelly Press, forthcoming, 2018) and She May Be a Saint (Hermeneutic Chaos Press, 2016). Her poems and essays have also appeared in Luna Luna, The Ekphrastic Review, Calamus Journal, and the RS 500.

Annie Pittman lives in Chicago, where she works as a licensed massage therapist. She earned her MFA in poetry from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Her poems have appeared in NeckThrush Poetry JournalMidwestern Gothic, and BOAAT Journal. 

Evan Reynolds s a Chicago-based poet whose work centers on the experience of mental disability. His work has appeared in the Pittsburgh City Paper.

Bill Wolak is a poet, photographer, and collage artist. He has just published his fifteenth book of poetry entitled The Nakedness Defensewith Ekstasis Editions. His collages have appeared recently in Naked in New Hope 2017 and The 2017 Seattle Erotic Art Festival. Mr. Wolak teaches Creative Writing at William Paterson University in New Jersey.