Nonfiction & Essay (Anthologies)

"A quintessential feminist voice in this 21st-century era" --Janell Hobson, Ph.D., Ms. blogger, SUNY Albany professor, and author of Venus in the Dark


Here are some of the books I'm proud to be in.

Close-up of red lipstick-painted lips of a person with mustache stubble of indeterminate race or gender. Below that on a plain white background, in red lowercase print it says, "visible, a femmethology," and below that in smaller black print is "edited by Jennifer Clare Burke."
Visible: A Femmethology is a two-volume set of essays on femme identity by a wonderfully diversegroup of skilled writers, including Margaret Price and Peggy Munson. Topics cross lines of gender, sexual orientation, race, class, and dis/ability. My piece, in volume one, "A Decade Later: Still, Femme?" is a meditation on what has changed since I wrote "Still, Femme" in 1998 -- my essay on maintaining femme identity with a disability. This essay was physically, mentally, and emotionally grueling; it was the only writing I did during the two years I was sickest with Lyme. However, it still got some really heart-warming reviews, for which I'm quite grateful.

At the top, white italic print on a brown background says, Are we feeling better yet? Below that is a photo of the back of a woman's neck and shoulders, wearing a hospital gown, with a set of outdoor stairs and a brick wall in front of her. Below that against a dark background in white caps it says, "Women speak about health care in America" and below that, "Colleen McKee, Amanda Stiebel."
I absolutely love Are We Feeling Better Yet? The essays are so well-written -- some funny, some poignant, and many a combination -- that the only problem I have with it is that my work feels weak in comparison. My contribution was one of my humor columns: "PCA Does Not Stand for Personal Care Assassin."

The book's subtitle, "Women Speak about Health Care in America," really doesn't do justice to the breadth and depth of the writing. Yes, it is about women's very diverse experiences of health care, but it's also just excellent writing about the human condition.

Down the left side of the cover is a pale blue block of color, with a disjointed representation of a body -- a yellow circle representing a head, and below that a teardrop shape representing a torso, and below that another oblong representing a leg. To the right, against an orange background, in large black print says, "My body of Knowledge." With the arm of the person reaching out and gesturing with an open hand to the title. Below that is a green color block that contains the subtitle: "stories of illness, disability, healing, and life." Below that is a light yellow color block that says, in black print, "Edited by Karen Myers and Felicia Ferlin."

My Body of Knowledge: Stories of Illness, Disability, Healing, and Life is proof that self-publishing can produce a quality book that all can be proud of. My piece, "Pap Goes the Wheezer," is one of my favorite humor essays. I was excited to have it included. I also enjoyed the other pieces and was excited to have my work included alongside some of my favorite well-known writers (such as Molly Ivins and Floyd Skloot), as well as some of my favorite emerging writers (Madeleine Parish, Patricia Wellingham-Jones, and Erin Lewy).

The image on the cover is the left side of a woman's neck and upper chest. She is wearing three beaded choker-type necklaces, the bottom one with a large gold Star of David. Across the top, in large white all-capital letters are the words, "Yentl's Revenge," with "revenge" in italics. On the woman's bare shoulder, in small black print is the subtitle, "The next wave of Jewish Feminism." A pale green border on the bottom says, "Edited by Danya Ruttenberg, foreward by Susannah Heschel."Yentl's Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism was one of the first books I contributed to, and I had no idea how lucky I was back then to work with Danya Ruttenberg and to have my essay appear alongside Hanne Blank's, Ophira Edut's, and a host of other excellent Jewish women writers. I'm thrilled that this book is still being read -- and used in college classrooms. The topics are diverse, and the writing is excellent. My piece, "Composting Judaism" focuses on how my culture, spirituality, and disability of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) intersect.

The top half of the book is a photograph of a person in a wheelchair bumping up against a flight of stone steps. It says "Restricted" in white capital letters. Below that is a white background with "Access" in dark capital letters. Further below, in much smaller print is "Lesbians on Disability" and at the bottom, "Edited by Victoria A. Brownworth and Susan Raffo."

There are now several books by or about queers with disabilities, but when Restricted Access: Lesbians on Disability was published, it was the only game in town. It is still worth a read, both to discover how much has changed and how much has not, and because some of the pieces in it are excellent and timeless. My essay, "Still, Femme," was mentioned in reviews.

Other nonfiction anthology credits include the following:
  • Das MCS-Lesebuch (The MCS Anthology), translated into German: "Nichts als Abstriche" ("Pap Goes the Wheezer"), "Der MCS-Racheengel" ("The EI Avenger") "Friede den Gehsteigen" ("Pavement Peace") and various cartoons.
Click here to read some of my nonfiction pieces that are published online.