i’ve written a chapbook!

and I’ll be sending my little poetry baby out into the world within the next few weeks, hoping someone believes in my voice enough to publish it!

or, because I am sending it to contests, more specifically, that they like it enough to consider me as a finalist.

we shall see!!

but i’m super excited. i’ve finally completed a writing project. this collection is only 25 pages long, but it’s finished, and i’m proud of it.

i’ve always loved writing poetry, something about the short and sweetness of it, but yet how effective it can be at conveying something…and how fun and creative it allows one to be! i titled it revival, for now, as my header for this post reads, because in some way that’s what the story within this collection is about. it carries multiple themes throughout, but ultimately is the story of my journey over the past 4-6ish years, with threads of specific experiences/emotions interwoven throughout, such as doubt/uncertainty, relationships, hope, illness and the accompanying fear it brings, self transformation, identity and all the processes that come with that (questioning, wanting to be more, doubting, trying to change, confidence, figuring out who I am and what I stand for and what I want..). there’s a lot of facets to the narrative of it, but I tried very hard to make sure it worked as a collection, to make sure it told a story, and most of all, represented me and my voice in the most genuine way possible. i hope i succeeded.

so, although i’ve been especially focused on improving my poetry in the last few years, with the goal of publishing a chapbook eventually, and then hopefully a longer piece of work, this chapbook came to be in a very specific way. originally I had a different idea, but I was looking at chapbook contest submission guidelines as well as poetry I had written for my creative writing class last year, and a suggestion from one of the publishing presses gave me the inspiration I needed to envision this collection. Their advice was this: A good chapbook asks a question. An even better chapbook answers it. 

and somehow, that brought me to one of my favourite poems I’ve written, which I have shared before on social media, so I’ll share it here, and one of my poems that has been well received by those who have read it:

he painted the whole damn house red

the day you were born.

you wore the face of a newborn child

but he saw it

lurking behind your wide eyes.

wild. untouchable. resilient.

the kind of spirit that would crush rib cages

in the palm of one hand,

one that would climb mountains

just to stand at the top and say I did it

and look down at those who doubted you

you weren’t born for baby pink and pastels

you were born screaming,

angry at the world

for all the broken pieces you’d have to fix

you were born to wear armour and

dress in blood red

you were born a warrior

fighting since you took your first breath.

(I really wish that wasn’t double spaced but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to change it…sigh..)

I didn’t write this poem with myself in mind. I imagined a character, and I wrote about her. But I found myself thinking this might be a good poem to start my collection with. So I made a new document, pasted it on the first page and asked myself what questions I had about it. I asked myself: Who is this girl? What became of her? Is she still screaming?

I thought that maybe, this poem represents a part of me I’ve been trying to find my way to. So I dug back into the past, into some painful memories, some happy ones, I flipped through old journals, old poetry, trying to create a list of moments that were important in shaping me to who I am now. Honestly, writing some of this chapbook was really difficult. It reflects every high, every low, every struggle and every success, every hardship endured, but in the end, I think it reflects the girl in the first poem. But it wasn’t easy to write about all of those parts. It tells her story. It answers who she is. It answers what became of her. It answers if she is still screaming at the world.

I wrote this chapbook in three days.  Which is very fast, but, I had a goal and a vision and I wanted to have it done within the break. I had a very specific idea of the narrative I wanted to tell. I even outlined it. I wrote the last poem first, so I knew what the conclusion would be, and I built it from there. I brought in a few of my best and favourite poems I’ve written, and I found them homes in the chapbook. Once I’d had a few poems written, and in an order that made sense, and I really knew where I was going with it, I made an outline. I wrote down the theme each poem dealt with, and I decided what themes or moments I still needed to tell about to complete the story. I picked out a theme/emotion for each poem still needed, and I wrote each accompanying poem. I ordered them chronologically, but in some ways, strategically so they complemented each other best. I didn’t just throw my favourite poems together. I wanted this to be a story, I wanted it to represent my journey. I wanted it to be me.

And a narrative really did unfold. It tells my story. And honestly, I’m so very proud of this collection. It’s the story I’ve been wanting to write for years, and I finally have. I have let a few people read it and got great feedback. Their kind words mean so much.

So now, all that’s left is to polish it up, and I have a list of about ten different contests/publishing presses I’m going to submit it to, which I will do over the break….

Wish me luck!

Hoping you all will be able to read it soon.

happy holidays friends!

jc.

 

we do not always look like the heroes you want us to be

I know I said I’d write a post on epilepsy awareness. But this has been pressing on me, so it is taking precedence. Firstly – after having tried to edit this for coherence, I am going to state this: This may read more like a diary entry, of scattered, unorganized thought. But. There have been a lot of things on my mind that I feel need to be expressed, and publicly. So, prepare yourself for some honesty and some disorganization in my writing!

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about disability, from a social perspective, for research purposes. But some of the points are hitting home, and hard.

A concept raised is the “supercrip” or the concept of a person with a disability or other related illness having to have some extraordinary ability to compensate for their disability. It is expressed by Ann Schmiesing, as read in Disability, Deformity, and Disease in the Grimm’s Fairy Tales:

The supercrip…represents overachieving, over-determined, self-enfreakment that distracts from the lived daily reality of most disabled people.

My first reaction was, in capital letters in my notes: “WE DO NOT ALWAYS LOOK LIKE THE HEROES YOU WANT US TO BE.”

I am no different than any one else. I get through each day with one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. I didn’t choose my reality. It doesn’t look like “overcoming” my illnesses to get my happy ending. It looks like living, despite the frustrations, the limitations, the stigmas and every other high and low that comes with being chronically ill. I do not exist to be strong or inspiring to others. I exist for myself.

But still, I don’t know.  This concept of having some sort of compensatory characteristic to make up for my illnesses makes me uneasy. I guess I feel that it’s imposed on me.  I impose it on myself, perhaps, and others (maybe others in a perceived sense…) come to expect it from me. Specifically, I question its relevance to my high standards for myself. The question is this: Do I set my standards so high because I feel the need to compensate in some way, shape or form, for being chronically ill?

Or does this need, or expectation, for myself to be the very best come from somewhere else?

The answer?

I honestly don’t know. I think it’s a thing that is pushed on a lot of us, from many different sources, both systemically and individually. I don’t want to start talking about capitalism, or the education system, or social media, or whatever… I mean. It’s all there. We all live through the experience of feeling like we aren’t enough – feeling like we have to be everything at once and above all, productive and successful in measurable means, and somehow, we are always failing. Or so we think.

It’s a toxic thing.

But. Let me stop rambling. I am thinking about a lot, and I am trying to lay bits and pieces of it down here. For your understanding, your consideration, and for my own.

I guess – the takeaway point from this, the reason I am posting it publicly, is that I want able-bodied, “healthy”, people to understand this: disabled people, or those who are chronically ill, or otherwise not able-bodied, do not exist for your inspiration. We do not have to “overcome” our health complications to be happy, or to be successful. We do not owe it to society to be successful or productive in a manner that is valuable and measurable within capitalism. We should not have to be “supercrips” to be accepted. We should not have to compensate for the circumstances of our body that are out of our control. We should not have to change ourselves to meet society’s abled-bodied standard to be accepted. Society should change to be accommodating and accessible to people of all abilities. We do not have to throw ourselves into our passions or pursuits to cope with the struggles of our lived reality.

We are enough as we are. And we do not have to be inspirational, or strong, or constantly challenge our boundaries to be acceptable; to be valid in our identity.

We are not always “okay”. We are allowed to not be okay.

I’m tired of the facade.

I am not always strong. Not in the way you think I am.

I am not inspirational.

I am always tired. I am often frustrated.

But I am always enough.

 

 

love & spoons,

jc.

 

 

 

 

welcome

Hello & Welcome ;

After many failed ideas and attempts at starting a blog, I recently have been re-inspired (with a touch of anger-fueled motivation) to put myself out into the blog-o-sphere. I’m centering my blog around my life as a university student, a feminist, a chronically ill individual, a lesbian, and ultimately, a writer.

Previously, I had thought I had to have a very narrow focus on my blog to write it. Maybe, this is the case, if I were creating this blog as a business endeavor. I am not. I am here to share my life and its complexities; my failures, my successes, my insights and to connect with others sharing similar experiences. I decided a strict theme blog isn’t for me. I want to share what I am passionate about, and I want to write about my life, with an emphasis on intersectionality and my personal experience as a person with many faces to their identity.

If you care to follow along, expect posts related to everything previously mentioned (feminism, academics, writing, disability, LGBTQIA+ issues etc) and what makes my life uniquely my own.

New posts once a week, every Monday!

To learn more about me, please visit my about page.

Best,

JC