Announcement: The Writing Our Lives Workshop is partnering with The Rumpus’ Voices on Addiction

Writing Our Lives is honored to announce its latest partnership with The Rumpus’ Voices on Addiction.

What does this mean?

If you’ve taken a WOL class with Vanessa Mártir, you can submit your personal essay for consideration for publication on The Rumpus’ Voices on Addiction column. Three essays by WOL alum will be selected and published on VOA in April and May.

Submission Period Opens: January 25, 2019
Deadline: March 15, 2019 at 11:59pm
Send submission to:

What you should know about VOA: Voices on Addiction is a column devoted to true personal narratives of addiction, curated by Kelly Thompson, and authored by the spectrum of individuals affected by this illness. Through these essays, we hope—in the words of Rebecca Solnit—to break the story by breaking the status quo of addiction: the shame, stigma, and hopelessness, and the lies and myths that surround it. Sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, adult children, extended family members, spouses, friends, employers or employees, boyfriends, girlfriends, neighbors, victims of crimes, and those who’ve committed crimes as addicts, and the personnel who often serve them, nurses, doctors, social workers, therapists, prison guards, police officers, policy makers and, of course, addicts themselves: Voices on Addiction will feature your stories. Because the story of addiction impacts us all. It’s time we break it.

If you have an essay that fits the bill and you’ve taken a WOL class or workshop, you can submit!

I encourage you to read some of the essays on the VOA column here.

Submission specifics:

  • Deadline: March 15th, 2019 at 11:59PM
  • Your essay must be between 1200 and 3500 words.
  • Your essay should fit the specifications in the VOA blurb.
  • In your cover letter, include a short bio and what WOL class(es) you’ve taken and what year(s).
  • Submit your essay as an attachment, as a Word Doc or PDF.
  • Submission must be double spaced, 12 point font.
  • Put essay title and author name in the header and page number in the footer.
  • If accepted, you agree to allow Vanessa Mártir and/or VOA can make minor edits to your essay.
  • Send your submission, questions about the submission, etc. to


Why did I make this partnership happen?

If you’re like me, you have stories about addiction that you wish you didn’t have. Stories of how addiction ravaged your neighborhood, your friends, your family, maybe even you.

I grew up in the crack era of NYC. The buildings that burned during the Fire Wars, whose carcasses were left standing, became crackhouses. There was one across the street from my building on Palmetto Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn. I remember watching the addicts line up, scratching themselves, jonesing for their next hit. They slipped their money into a hole in the wall and were passed a little bag with a candy color topped vial. Those vials littered the gutters and sidewalks. We unknowing children played with those vials until some adult smacked them out of our hands and taught us better.

At 9, I learned the burnt cotton candy smell of crack. I learned to kick the door in to our building hard, because there was always an addict in the foyer, puffing on that pipe, and he or she didn’t care that kids lived in that building. We kicked in the door to startle them. To hurt them into finding another spot to pull on their pipes. I didn’t have much sympathy for addicts then.

The dealers and the fiends took over the playgrounds and handball courts. You couldn’t pass by certain blocks without hearing “Eight ball, eight ball!”

I saw heroin make a come back in the 90s, and crystal meth appeared in the early 2000s.

I admit with some shame that I remained unsympathetic until heroin dug its claws into my brother. My Superman Juan Carlos struggled with a fifteen year addiction that he finally succumbed to in 2013. It was his death that opened my eyes.

If you know someone who’s using or has used, you should know that this isn’t as simple as them making bad decisions. They’re running from something that, to them, seems a whole lot scarier than a needle. Source

I have a new view on addiction, it’s causes and costs, what it does to people, families and communities. This is why this partnership with The Rumpus’ Voices on Addiction is of particular importance to me. This is why I had to make it happen.

We have to stop pretending that addiction doesn’t affect all of us. No healing comes from silence.

I’ve side eyed the growing narrative around addiction that has surfaced now that opiates are affecting white communities in shocking numbers. To be clear, that is a problem that must be addressed, but let’s be real–the narrative wasn’t so gentle and compassionate when it was black and brown folks being destroyed by addiction. It’s up to us to rewrite these narratives; to give them the complexity and humanity we all deserve.

This partnership is one way that I am pushing back, because I believe there is healing in stories and truth telling. Let’s write our stories. Let’s get them out into the world. Let me help you publish them. 

One comment

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