Imagine if you lived in a country where you were fluent in the language except for a single phrase, and at the end of EVERY conversation someone had about or with you they said this bit of syllables. And sometimes they said it in a whisper, sometimes they laughed, sometimes it was in the form of a question, sometimes like they were cursing you. Imagine you saw it written on buildings and official documents but no matter what words surrounded it, your reading comprehension was never quite good enough and no matter how many times you asked for a translation, you only got shuffling and mumbling in reply. Eventually, this phrase would mean something to you, hearing it as often as you did. But what?

Imagine if somebody asked you: why is there a sky? How could you answer that? It’s all around you. You live underneath it. Sometimes it rains and on those days you don’t like it. Some days you don’t even look up at it. It’s everywhere. Imagine if other people didn’t see the sky and were always asking you to define it for them.

These are the two best metaphors I can come up with. I wish the words Cerebral Palsy made me feel something. But it just feels like syllables puffing out into the air. I feel vacuous when I hear them. You can’t use them to compare me to other people who live underneath them.They inform every aspect of my life and yet the two words themselves don’t say anything about me.

You might as well call it World Sky Day. How would we mark that? Would we each look up for a second? Take a selfie every minute to try and watch it change? Would we measure our breaths?


Heyyyyyy everyone!

These last two weeks have been great ones for me on the publishing front. 3 of my favorite poems, little redheaded children that I thought were far too specific and nerdy to ever get published, have found a home in this month’s Freeze Ray. Here you can read “Venus di Milo Answers a Tumblr Feminist,” “Elegy for James Darmody,” and “The Graverobber”.


In addition, a whopping FIVE of my poems will now be forthcoming in the new anthology QDA, more on that to come. If you are curious, you’ll be able to hear some of those poems TOMORROW at Artists Without Walls where we will honor my mother in poetry, Connie Roberts, at her first book launch.

Connie’s Website here


The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (2nd read)
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres  (unfinished)
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene


BlackGirl Mansion by Angel Nafis
Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night by Morgan Parker
Little Witness by Connie Roberts
[Insert] Boy by Danez Smith

Non Fiction

How Remarkable Women Lead by Joanna Brash and Suzy Cranston (unfinished)

Books Completed: Winter 2014

Posted: April 20, 2015 in Uncategorized


Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce


Fat Girl Finishing School by Rachel Wiley
Gurlesque: the New Grrly, Grotesque, Burlesque Poetics edited by Lara Glenum and Arielle Greenberg
Brain Fever by Kimiko Hahn
Songs from Under the River by Anis Mojgani

Non Fiction

Not my Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Flapper: a Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women who made America Modern by Joshua Zietz
The Art of Asking, or how I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer


The Disability Joke

Posted: April 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The Disability Joke
After Patricia Lockwood

The disability joke is that you were travelling alone,
travelling halfway across the country for the first time.

The joke is this was a lot of firsts for you—first train ride, first time travelling across time zones, first time travelling without a trained seizure companion.

The disability joke is that you felt really free.

The joke is you were taking a train because you would not fly without your husband, and you could not find a dog sitter, so your husband stayed home with the dog so you took a thirty hour train.

The disability joke is that you have epilepsy.  You’ve had a brain surgery and traumatic brain injury resulting in partial blindness.  You also have aphasia, which is the same as words being locked in your head, which, if you are a poet, is the same as running in circles drunk.  The…

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On lonely

Posted: March 27, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

I’ve heard a lot of poets, both peers and in my wider reading, talk about how shitty being happy is for art (comedians, too, say happiness is bad for business.) Falling in love is especially problematic if you’re not Neruda. I had to put a cap on my undergrads writing about current love affairs to save myself from derivative metaphor and lots of written hand wringing. Maybe I was just a bitter virgin schoolmarm. We’ll see if the rule holds next time I’m on the big girl side of the desk.

We are under the impression that angst is more intelligent. When I was as old as those students I banned from so much as writing the L word, my teacher Philis Levin blamed this on the war in Iraq, saying, “don’t be afraid to write about beauty. Ugliness is in vogue now. I think this happens in times of great violence.” I wasn’t sure if I believed her. I’m still not. I did try to take the advice to heart but still mostly find myself to be the oyster that has to be irritated before the creation can start. When I finally fell in love for myself, the intellectual perpetual-student part of my brain-the part that couldn’t believe I was about to throw myself willingly into this volcano and thought I was an idiot-said, “well, if you’re going to do this, let’s test out the theory.”

I wrote two completed drafts about my lover in a year and change–five or six drafts counting the incompletes. They were not desolate, but not any more sunshine and roses than my other work. It certainly wasn’t because I wasn’t happy. Honestly, I struggled with finding language to express the dizzying heights of first love. I was constantly grappling with ways to say I love you. Perhaps, I thought, that is the real struggle. Maybe there’s just a greater difficulty expressing openness and joy. Or maybe I just wasn’t so linguistically proficient as I’d thought. I also thought it might have had something to do with being inside the onslaught of all these heavy, new emotions and needing distance in order to make art of them.

I wasn’t surprised that I couldn’t write a new poem every day about my lover. I hungered to, but she was uncomfortable with the idea of herself as a muse so I didn’t push myself. What was really bothering me was that I wasn’t pushing myself to write anything. I was willfully dry most of the time we were together. I was reluctant in the extreme to use any of the time writing that might have been spent with her. This was due, in part, I knew, to our circumstances. We were long distance, so long conversations were our only true means of connection and building. Our relationship was carried out mostly through texting (this is probably the hardest medium to express the subtleties of emotion through, kids. FYI.) but we were both jobless at the time. So I had more or less unfettered access to my lover all day long but found it difficult to multitask, which I can normally do while writing. So there was no way for me to feel connected to her while working. Without that, I was up a creek. I did not want to leave her even for the half hour it would take to write the roughest draft, let alone the four or five hour stretches it takes to edit. It caused me bodily pain to purposefully put anything before her, even work or other close relationships. How I wrote my MFA thesis in this mindset, I really have no idea. Most of my former professors will be reading this. They should probably come and take it back.

Poetry and novels didn’t tell me that leaving is almost as hard as being left. This total inability to prioritize  anything, particularly myself and my work, before my lover’s needs (even what I imagined she needed when she didn’t), was one of the reasons I ended it, and was indicative of some of the suppressed emotional problems I had to deal with.

I knew I had to make my writing the central relationship in my life again if I was going to get better and follow through. In the few months since, I’ve joined four writing workshops with experienced poets I’ve admired for years–Rachel McKibbens, Shira Erlichman, Jennifer Bartlett, and Angel Nafis respectively. I am horrible at setting my own goals creatively, so getting back to work required someone to play the role of gentle whip-cracker. I got so much more than that in these women. I got to see idols become human, saw us all at the same beginning together. Saw myself as standing alongside them as opposed to being below them. They asked tough questions of me and, in part, saved my life.

However, one stumbling block remains and I’m asking the help and advice of my friends and readers. I have grown too accustomed, in groups such as these, to writing in the room with peers. I love the energy that crackles in these spaces as we all write, ponder, and discuss. There’s something crucial about seeing us all at the same starting line with a new baby draft. It’s like walking on the wire without a net. But recently, I have found that I get terribly anxious when I sit down to write because I feel alone. (Dealing with the palpitations right now, honestly.) Since my relationship was based on near constant conversation, I feel deep fear when I have to go back into my head and face myself to write. Reading and writing have always been my safety for its solitude. That’s not uncommon. And while I am happy to have become more extroverted, I don’t want to have to take a Xanex to try and write a draft because my room feels as if the walls are closing in. I want this time in my life to be filled with work.

Has anyone else felt this kind of creative loneliness? It’s hard for me to explain, but it is inhibiting my work outside the workshop setting. I’d welcome any opinions.

All about freak show poems




We are a dangerous place
and we move towns every night.
These thrills are not so cheap for us.
All of our days repeat like this one, 
set up, performed and torn down again
while you go to a home
that just stays there.

You watch high-wire acts 
because you believe in the distance 
to the ground, the chance of an accident. 
The girl in the tiger cage is prettier 
the closer she gets to teeth and claws. 
You come to the freak show
because you want to stare at something
you can feel better than

and we are so reassuring here.
And in Louisville, Bedford, Bloomington—
we are home in the moment
of the drawn curtain, the gasp
of surprise. We love your shocked faces. 
You put on such a show for us

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