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Why I Write: CK Malone


Photograph of an open notebook with a pen resting on it. Via Wix Media.

 

C.K. Malone (they/them) is a Bigender (Intersex) educator and coach/teacher at the secondary level. When not grading essays or helping students, they're busy helping design culturally and LGBTQIA2+ responsive units for the district and working as a climate and culture coach. They adore advising their district about diverse voices through alignment with the Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network. Their debut picture book, A COSTUME FOR CHARLY, released from Beaming Books in 2022. They are published in two editions of LITTLE THOUGHTS PRESS. Their newest book, ALL SOULS’ SONG, will be released by Beaming Books in the fall of 2024.


They are honored you are reading their words.

 

I could go on and on about the whale book my mom read me every night she could when I was in first grade. Or I could cite some phenomenal book that was a bestseller back then. I could even share the most gorgeous book I have ever read. (DM me if you want to know!!!)

But.

The first book that truly made me want to be a writer was this book about body types and the clothes these “types” should wear.

No, this isn’t another LGBTQIAP2S+ message or blog post by yours truly. In fact, it has nothing to do with my gender identity at all. (Mostly.) Bear with me, dear friends.


Background

I’d been teased about being fat for the past year. This was due to scarfing down mayonnaise and peanut butter sandwiches because we were poor. The calorie count made it so we wouldn’t go hungry. And you better believe when that ration of mayo and PB arrived, we ate as much as we could and as fast as possible. Add to that eating whatever I could whenever I could—birthday parties, pool parties, etc.—and I got a bit big. You do some drastic things when you think there might not be food.

But then everything changed. In fifth grade, I saw this book in a ______ Book Fair pamphlet—you know the kind—where students would order books and wait for someone to deliver their order to their classrooms. It promised I could “dress for my size” and look amazing. It didn’t matter what gender you were—you would be the most gorgeous kid on the face of this Earth! I chose it for my BOOK IT! win.

Once the book arrived, I devoured it faster than I ate the free Turkey dinner at the hospital my mom worked at during this time. I learned I was an “Apple Shape.” Basically, it meant I was heavy up top with skinny legs. Then the book told me to wear certain fabrics and clothes.

I showed my mom. Obviously, we couldn’t afford them. I begged my cousins who sent us hand-me-downs for clothes that looked like this. They sent me overalls my mom spent nights patching so they would fit me. And yeaaaaahhhh. Not the best.


Mirrors Matter

We, as authors, hear about Mirrors, Windows, Doors, etc. Mirrors matter, peeps. After so many attempts to make myself into something other than an “Apple Shape” and failing, I got tired.

And I was in FIFTH GRADE, my friends. I was worried about my identity, but I was more worried about my shape.

So when Mrs. M. asked us to create a poem book using different techniques, I knew what to do. I wrote all these different poems—complete with HORRIBLE illustrations—in different forms and formats about being “big.” I wrote poems about giraffes and elephants who didn’t fit in. I wrote poems about people finally telling me I was amazing the way I was. I wrote about super-sized heroes taking down the _____s and the _____s of the world who made fun of me every day.

And when my teacher spiral-bound these “poetry” books and sent them home, I was so proud. Here was a book that showed just how I felt about that “other book.” About how that “other book” defined who I was. My mom keeps it on her shelf even now.

I thought about keeping that “other book” a while back. I kept it until I was 39 years old. Every time I even attempted to hate myself for how I looked and my “Apple Shape,” I dragged it out and stared at it. Then I began to write for the person I am now. I’m now published and sharing who I am.

That “other book”?

It’s probably recycled into couch cushion filler where it belongs.




6 Comments


Guest
Jul 11, 2023

Just one more new thing I learned about you and love that you put into writing. We all have stories that need to be heard.

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Guest
Jul 12, 2023
Replying to

We do. And more stories need to be told all the time so people can see the similarities we share. Love you for this comment.

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Steena Hernandez
Steena Hernandez
Jul 11, 2023

CK, I love that you are sharing your powerful words with the world! Great interview with so much heart, and how wonderful that your mom still has your poetry book on her shelf! ❤️

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Guest
Jul 12, 2023
Replying to

She does!! I pull it out every time I visit. Love you for this comment.

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Guest
Jul 11, 2023

Thank you for sharing this valuable story, CK!

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Guest
Jul 12, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for reading and commenting. Love you for this comment.

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