“Keep magnifying the universe ― because it’s still expanding, with or without you.”


Marlena Chertock

Marlena Chertock grew up crumb-sized, with a rare bone disorder. She uses this skeletal dysplasia and chronic pain as a bridge to scientific poetry, often exploring the rich images in science and medicine, threading genetics, space, and nature into her work.

With frank humor, Chertock takes on varied and critical aspects of identity―femininity, gender, sexuality―as they relate (or don’t relate) to her disability, somehow succeeding in making them familiar and universal. Her poetry is one that challenges us to see our limitations, not as individuals but as people together, all of us, ultimately, crumb-sized. Born in 1991, Chertock’s is an exciting and contemporary voice―brutally honest, deeply humane and ultimately triumphant.

Praise for Crumb-sized

"Chertock’s particular gift is to play with scale, trying by turns to nudge and push at and ultimately to scatter perspective. You come away enchanted, unsettled, and a little dizzy."
Chicago Review of Books,

"Marlena Chertock’s second collection, CRUMB-SIZED, is a powerful invitation into spaces... those which forgo binary models, definitive measurement, and any understanding of life within the body as the sum total of life itself."
Lines and Stars, Rachel Mindell