A Reading List for Mental Health Awareness Month 2023

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and to honor the occasion, we asked our member magazines to share poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction that engages with topics of mental, emotional, and social health.




Recovery Math” by Kaveh Akbar
Raleigh Review

yes of course I am grateful even if
I don’t run around telling everyone like

some hyperactive monkey
I am busy teaching my bones to hold


Today I Washed My Hands in a Mucky Koi Pond​” by Kai Coggin
West Trestle Review

Today I washed my hands in a mucky koi pond
and I’ve never felt more clean,
I did not scrub or scald
my palms and wrists and fingers


It is nor hand nor foot in mouth” by Barbara Edelman
Raleigh Review

Forgot to type your name, forgot how to say it, forgot the
sound of it, I mean the spell of it, forgot how to spell it,


Double Sonnet for Transgender Dysphoria Blues” by torrin a. greathouse
Cincinnati Review

All I ever wanted to be—the summer
daydreamed of. Girl in the floral-print dress
& endless golden fields. I just wanted you


Ghazal for Sugar Hill Secrets or Lullaby for Harlem” by JP Howard

Mama’s lover was a secret,
wrapped around decades of bittersweet dreams

When sleep visits, I mimic Mama,
escort secret lovers into my dreams


In the Briars” by Colleen McKee
Bellevue Literary Review

As I walked to Lake Divine, I remembered I’d forgotten
To fill my pockets with rocks. I’m the type who forgets

Nearly everything, except for the things I would like
To forget. I realized I’d left the rocks in the house


Landline” by Maria Nazos
The Hopkins Review

What wouldn’t you give to go back to when
you knew friends’ phone numbers better
than a lover’s body?


Crip Infinity” by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

  1. my friend asked her facebook feed what apocalypse would be too much for us. What we would
    really want to not live beyond.  Folks mentioned cannibalism, the end of the whales, I stubborn said nothing.


My Hands” by RubinLeigh
Lines & Breaks

I love my hands.
I find them beautiful.
They aren’t particularly slender and long like my older sibling’s.
They aren’t perfectly proportioned like my younger sister’s.


A Year of Offerings to the Body” by Leticia Urieta
West Trestle Review

On the first day
I laid down a golden gift at her altar
believing that glitter would appease her


To Write the Poem in which I Reckon with My OCD” by Zachariah Claypole White
Does It Have Pockets

The first stanza will be an image of grass,
grown tall in English summers. The speaker
is a child—perhaps four or five—the grandfather
lifts him like a trowel from damp earth




Esoterica/Ethos: Critique, for Personal Use When Editing the Work of Others” by nessi alexander-barnes

my experiences are complex and alien, and thus my voice is complex and alien;

i am excruciatingly aware that many contexts cannot support the weight of that alienness, and thus i often shave off my idiosyncratic edges to accommodate the access of others, as necessary.


Crisis Care” by Mikita Brottman
Full Bleed

When I was at college, I responded to an ad placed in the monthly student newsletter by a retired psychoanalyst, Dr. Beardsworth. He was offering analysis at no charge to students who could not afford the fee.


A Stubborn Desire” by Maud Casey
A Public Space

The way of Saint James, a pilgrimage route culminating at the tomb of Saint James in Santiago Compostela in Spain, passed through Bordeaux during the Middle Ages. If Albert Dadas had arrived then at Bordeaux’s Saint-André Hospital he might have been considered a spiritual seeker. But he arrived in 1886, in anguish, and so he became a patient.


Motherhood Requiem” by Nadia Ghent
Bellevue Literary Review

One afternoon, after my mother had fallen ill for the fourth or fifth time, I pulled out all my eyelashes, one by one. I was thirteen. She had gone to the hospital in the middle of the night with my stepfather—a psychiatrist, but not hers—and after I came home from school that day, nothing was ever the same.


Our White Dishes” by Heidi Fettig Parton
The Keepthings

When we divorced in 2001, my soon-to-be ex-husband requested our creamy white dishes, a French-leaning design with delicate scalloped edges.


Dad’s Weights” by Lisa Rizzo
The Keepthings

When my friends ask what kind of work my father did, I say, “You know those signs on the highway that say Truck Scales Ahead? He fixed those.”


We Fly in Planes” by Rachel Paris Wimer
Southeast Review

I thought 9/11 was my fault. I saw it happen on TV. I believed it was because of me and what I had done. Because of all the dead AA batteries in the ashtray of my 1993 Toyota Tercel. I had done something wrong.




Every Once in a While” by Joseph Friesen
The Letter Review

“I spent the night at McDonald’s,” she said to me across my desk.  “The twenty-four hour one on Mckenzie Avenue.” Her blonde hair was dirty and knotted.


The Incredible Exploding Woman” by Jamie Hittman
The Fabulist

Walt returned from work to find that his wife had exploded in the middle of the living room.


Room 1202 at the Grand Hotel Abyss” by Akshat Khare
Another Chicago Magazine

I check into The Grand Hotel Abyss. I slip into it on long forgetful walks, when the last drops of rain fall from the grey evening sky.


My Uncle Deserves Chekhov” by Robert Treu
Bellevue Literary Review

“Every family has one,” my sister Joyce liked to say. “One crazy uncle or aunt they can’t hide or forget.” She was referring to our Uncle Walter on our mother’s side, the bachelor who inherited the family farm.




Remember Also Me: A Mosaic of Interviews from Ukraine [part five]” by Laura Swart
Another Chicago Magazine

In the genocide of 1932-33, the high estimate is eleven million people died, the low is four million. It was an attempt to destroy the Ukrainian people.