Brokelyn Poetry Feature

I’m so moved that Joanna Valente, a poet who I very much enjoy and the editor of Yes, Poetry, included me in her Brokelyn Poetry round-up this week alongside Joe Pan and Michael J Seidlinger. She selected lines from each poem she chose from us, and provided links to the full poem. For me, she chose my poem “In the Oven,” published by Luna Luna Magazine, which, content warning, is about sexual abuse and survival. It was a complete surprise that, best of all, introduced me to the work of a couple of great Brooklyn poets. I hope you enjoy her post!


Featured image by Lauren Mitchell, 2009


Trauma poetry in Luna Luna Magazine

I’ve been honored to have three poems about childhood sexual trauma appear in Luna Luna Magazine, a favorite ezine of mine (and sister publication to Quail Bell Magazine). These poems are the first to be published from a series on trauma that I’ve been working on for many years. I’m putting together the manuscript alongside the novel I’m working on about Coco, a half-Romani (Gypsy) dancer and fortune teller at a Parisian circus who becomes a Nazi hunter. Coincidentally, the novel will contain a few poems. I’m so motivated to finish both projects within the next year. A large part of that is due to the warm reception that these poems have gotten– I couldn’t be more grateful or more touched. Many thanks. And a big thank you to Lisa A. Flowers, founder of Vulgar Marsala Press and author of diotomhero, who solicited me. I also got a lot of good advice about writing trauma poetry from Erin Belieu, Florida State University professor and co-founder of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and I so appreciate her help and encouragement. Check out Erin’s latest book Slant Six, and its starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.

You may know Luna Luna for their powerful feminist content, their fierce leader Lisa Marie Basile (Apocryphal), their cutting edge poetry and fiction, and their articles and features on alternative spirituality, the occult, and beautiful cultural practices from all over the world. One of my new favorite things is their Poescopes, that is, poetic horoscopes by Fox Foley-Frazier (Exodus in X Minor), curator of The Infoxicated Corner of The The Poetry Blog. P.S. I have some poems about Romani rights and mythology in the Infoxicated Corner as part of the Political Punch series. 

So here’s the link for “In the Oven,” “Night and Night,” “Gulls Calling Over Corcaigh” in Luna Luna Magazine

Thank you for reading, readers. I feel fearsome and strong, and I’m writing like a demon. I was a demon for Halloween, by the way.


Click the demon to read the poems, I dare you.

“I’m not indecent!” –Bettie Page, sex-positive feminist before it was even a thing

I tip my tiny burlesque top hat to you, Bettie Page.

Page, risen from poverty and trauma, grew up to ignite her own successful career and a sexual revolution. Charged multiple times with indecency, her battle cry, “I’m not indecent” dared to elevate women’s naked bodies, no longer impure or passive-and-possessed.


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Tori Rodriguez’s fantastic article in The Atlantic, “Male fans made Bettie Page a star but female fans made her an icon” takes a good look at Page’s life, career, icon-status, and the upcoming film Bettie Reveals All

“…Bettie Page Reveals All, a new movie about her life, is the first film to tell her story in her own voice—in fact, she’s the narrator. Based on a series of interviews with Academy Award-nominated director Mark Mori several years before her death, the film recounts how—despite a childhood in Nashville, Tennessee rife with neglect, sexual abuse by her father, and extreme poverty—she managed to graduate at the top of her high school class, earn a college degree, and forge her own career. Page also reveals details of her struggle with paranoid schizophrenia, which included 10 years spent in a psychiatric hospital after abandoning her modeling career….” –excerpt from The Atlantic

“I’m not indecent!” frees Page from the role of victim as well– sexual abuse tells the survivor that there is something wrong with his/her body and that his/her body is solely for someone else’s pleasure, yet Page goes on to confront sex and sexuality not as an object, but as a career woman of agency and sex-positive expression.* That’s not to say she didn’t suffer. We know she did. That’s not to say that burlesque and modeling are always routes to empowerment and healing. We know they aren’t. And still, I can’t help but see Bettie Page’s career as a giant “fuck this noise” to sexual repression and the oppression of women. Her icon-presence radiates strength, even when she’s “hog-tied and gagged.” We still look to her for pin-up power-ups.

“….for many women, Page symbolizes self-confidence, unapologetic sexuality, and bold authenticity.”

“‘Bettie’s female fans often feel a deep emotional connection with her, which I think says a lot about the rigid expectations women still face,’ Mori says. ” –excerpts from The Atlantic

And so, my refrain: I tip my tiny burlesque top hat to you, Bettie Page. Live on in glory.


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*If you’re interested in sex-positive empowerment for sexual trauma survivors, you may want to check out Healing Sex: A Mind Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma by Staci Haines.