Elayna Mae Darcy (she/they) is a queer poet, YA author, filmmaker, and artist of many mediums. They have previously published two poetry collections through Kickstarter, UNRAVELING LIGHT (2018) and DARKNESS UNDONE (2020) as well as a sci-fi short story, CONTINUUM, in Issue 02 of Wizards in Space Literary Magazine. They formerly served as a podcast producer at MuggleNet and currently are as a NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison in their beloved city of Philadelphia. They have spoken on a number of panels at conventions across the country.
I can’t remember when Elayna and I officially met, but it was definitely on Twitter.
We’d been in the same vague sphere for a few years, I think: both devotees of NaNoWriMo, the annual event where you try to write 50,000 words in one month. There are a couple of accounts who do word sprints and such, and I’m pretty sure we ended up following each other through there, becoming small but cute presences on each other’s timelines at this most wonderful/terrible time of year. Elayna was definitely one of those people who I thought was way too cool and kind and brilliant to ever hang out with me, but somehow – eventually – we closed the gap. We went from well-behaved mutuals to yelling in DMs about our gay little characters in no time at all, and we’d do sprints together sometimes (or “spronts,” per our typo-turned-inside-joke). I could always tell that Elayna was an amazing writer, just by the passion they poured into it…
But then they actually let me read their stuff. And I was absolutely in awe.
There are many people who know they’re great writers and hold that close to their chest, who like to be delicate and poised and magnanimous about their work. Elayna Mae is not one of those writers. Elayna’s words pour out onto the page like oceans and galaxies, sweeping you along in their tide as they rush to explore untouched worlds. Their poems are gorgeous, imaginative, always so much larger than the sum of its parts; each one has a soul and a big, beating heart. In the embodiment of a certain magic house whose membership we’ve bonded over, Elayna’s work is all about the radical sharing of compassion, love, fear, and beauty, about shining a light into the darkness and reaching a hand down to help others rise up.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with Elayna for almost two years now, and I’m always so moved by the intentional joy they weave into everything they create, even (or maybe especially) when they’re writing about hard things. They don’t shy away from topics that in other hands have been misused, abused, and weaponized: depression, anxiety, fatphobia, queer/transphobia, residual trauma from all of the above. Yet they always, always find a way to turn that heaviness into hope. Above all, Elayna’s poems want you to know that you are going to be okay. There are people and places and books who will hold you, who will make space for you and celebrate you and help you find your way.
Elayna is currently Kickstarting a YA scifi novel-in-verse called STILL THE STARS, which centers all of these feelings and messages in a story about a fat queer poet who is made of stardust and must journey across the universe to find the family & magic she’s lost. It’s a story that starts soft and careful, then grows loud and proud as its protagonist learns how to embrace herself and wield the power she never thought she’d have. This novel is one of the best and most beautiful things I’ve ever read, and is even braver in the fact that we almost never see such stories in traditional publishing. There’s not a clear niche carved out for teen scifi poetry featuring characters with multiple marginalizations–so Elayna is making one for themself. I couldn’t be more prouder, and I hope with all my heart that this book gets the shelf space it deserves.
You can contribute to the Kickstarter for STILL THE STARS here, check out Elayna’s website, or follow them on Twitter (like I did so many years ago!) – and please also check out this wonderful blog post they wrote about why representation in literature matters.