Jan Steckel

Jan Steckel

Jan Steckel, M.D. is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction, who is also known as an activist in the GLBT community and an advocate on behalf of the disabled and the underprivileged.

Infobox actor
name = Jan M. Steckel

birthdate = 1962
birthplace =
married to =Hew Wolff
occupation = Poet, retired pediatrician, prose writer, bisexual activist
website = http://www.jansteckel.com/index.html

One of the most prolific writers/poets today, Steckel has published over a hundred of her short stories, poems and nonfiction pieces in print and in online publications such as "Scholastic Magazine", "Yale Medicine", "Red Rock Review", "So to Speak", and "Redwood Coast Review." Beyond the prodigious numbers of awards she has received, her work has has been widely reprinted and anthologized. Steckel's writing has been nominated twice for Pushcart Prizes: once for her nonfiction, and once for her poetry.

A strong bilingual background (Steckel is fluent in Spanish as well as English), extensive medical training, and work in underserved communities allow Steckel to tackle subjects that other writers (particularly those from middle-class backgrounds) aren't alwasy able to cover adequately, and her work in different media (poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction) facilitates a great deal of creative cross-pollination.

Her poetry chapbook "The Underwater Hospital" is available from Zeitgeist Press. She is currently working on a book-length collection of interrelated short stories and on a collection of short humorous first-person essays. Most of the stories and essays have already appeared in print.

She is also a founding member of [http://woman-stirred.blogspot.com Woman-Stirred] , a queer women's writing collective, along with Nicki Hastie, Julie R. Enszer, and Merry Gangemi.


Steckel's awards, too numerous to mention here, include:

* The 2008 Gertrude Press Fiction Chapbook Award, which will bring forth a second chapbook of her work, due later in 2008;
* The 2007 Jewel Prize by the Bay poetry competition, sponsored by the Frank Bette Center for the Arts;
* Third Place for Poetry in "The Pedestal Magazine"'s 2006 Pedestal Readers' Awards for "The Underwater Hospital," one of her most well-regarded works;
* Triplopia's 2006 Best-of-the-Best Competition (open only to winning poems from other contests) for "Tiresias";
* The Second Runner-Up in Poeticdiversity's Prose Contest, 2006 for the short story "Le Thé Dansant";
* Third Prize in Artists' Embassy International's Dancing Poetry Contest for the poem "Haditha," 2006;
* Second Place for Poetry in "The Pedestal Magazine"'s 2005 Pedestal Readers' Awards for "The Maiden Aunts";
* Third Prize in the Bay Area Poets' Coalition Contest 26 for "Miserere Missouri," 2006;
* First Honorable Mention in the Bay Area Poets Coalition Contest 25 for a poem co-authored with Hew Wolff, entitled "What Are Your Line Breaks Doing For You?", 2005;
* Third Prize in Artists' Embassy International's Dancing Poetry Contest for "Abuelita (Grandmother)," 2004;
* Finalist in the Blue Light Poetry Prize and Chapbook Contest, 2004;
* The Marguerite Rush Lerner Award for outstanding creative writing by a Yale medical student, 1992, for a collection of short stories.

Education and Medical Career

Steckel's undergraduate work was at Harvard-Radcliffe University, where she earned her B.A. summa cum laude in English Literature with an emphasis on creative writing in 1983. Later she studied Golden Age Spanish Literature at Oxford University on a Henry Fellowship through 1984. In 1989 she either fell in with the wrong crowd or started listening to her parents (depending upon whose version of the story one listens to) and took a few premedical courses while conducting research in the neuroscience laboratory. One thing led to another, and Steckel attended Yale University School of Medicine, where she picked up her M.D. in May of 1994. Steckel's speciality was in pediatrics, in which she completed her residency at Boston Children's Hospital in July 1997.

Board-Certified in Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics in 1997, Steckel obtained her Physician and Surgeon License from the Medical Board of California in 1997; she became a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2000.

Steckel served for a time in the Peace Corps as a volunteer in the Dominican Republic; upon her return to the States, she cared for Spanish-speaking families in California at a county hospital and at a large HMO. After she left medicine permanently in 2001, her experiences as a pediatrician continued to inform her work.

Personal Life

Steckel grew up in Santa Monica, where she attended Lincoln Junior High School (now Lincoln Middle School), studying journalism under [http://caroljago.com/| Carol Jago] . She went to Santa Monica High School, where she once confided that she enjoyed a "love/hate" relationship with the world of mathematics--a sentiment that might have been prescient of her later toggling between science/medicine and the world of letters.

In high school Steckel was known for her vocal range, and sang briefly with a band, Industrial Waist--which brought her on for live performances of Grace Slick's part in Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love." Her associates during her high school and college years included the Westsiders in Los Angeles who called themselves the "Olive Starlight Orchestra" (but had nothing to do with music; it was just a social circle, like the Bloomsbury Group).

Steckel associated at that time with such luminaries as computer graphics researcher Greg Turk; neurobiologist David Linden; Academy Award-winner and scanning/computer graphics expert David Coons; entrepreneur/pornographer Christophe Pettus, founder of the sex-toy company Blowfish, columnist, one-woman show creator, writer, and radio personality Sandra Tsing Loh; mathematician and co-founder of Rhythm and Hues Studios Keith Goldfarb, internet activist and law professor Susan Crawford; producer/computer-graphics innovator Eric Enderton, and politician/attorney Sandra Levin.

Steckel lives in Northern California with her husband Hew Wolff, who has collaborated on some of her poetry.


* The Underwater Hospital [chapbook] (2006: Zeitgeist Press; ISBN-10: 0929730763)

Other Writing

* "Why I Hate The Secret Garden" in "Triplopia", Vol. 6, Issue 3, October 2007;
* "Girl Lessons" in the online publication "biMagazine", May 2007;
* "How to Have Great Sex When Your Back Hurts" in the "Good Vibes Online Magazine" (GV Weekly), February 7, 2007;
* "Getting Slammed" online in "SoMa Literary Review", July 2006. Reprinted in The Fence, Issue 8, Summer 2007;
* "Poetry Performance Pizzazz: Marvin R. Hiemstra at the Lakeview Branch Library" in the "Bay Area Poets Seasonal Review", Fall 2006;
* "Getting It Rote: a Poetry Performance Practicum" in the "Bay Area Poets Seasonal Review", Summer 2005. Reprinted online in Woman-Stirred, September 24, 2005;
* Interview with writer Pam Rosenthal in "Affaire de Coeur", March/April 2005;
* "Talking Dogs and Raccoon Penises" in the 5-year anniversary issue of the online journal "Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism", February 2005;
* "The Wild Boar Baby" in "So to Speak", Vol. 14, No. 1, Winter/Spring 2005. Reprinted on the S"o to Speak" website when nominated for a Pushcart Prize, December 2005;
* "Stories Changing the World" in "View*Point: Ideas for Our Imagination, WoW!", Issue 73, December 2004;
* "Should You Tell Your Doctor You're Bi?" in the online publication "biMagazine", September 2004 (Reprinted by the Bisexual Foundation, November 2004);
* "I Just Do This to Seduce Gay Men" in the online publication "biMagazine", June 2004 (originally appeared in "Anything That Moves", No. 17, Summer 1998; also appeared in "Queer Ramblings" print zine, November 2004).
* "Women Who Have Sex with Canadians" in the online publication "biMagazine", June 2004 (reprinted in "The Fence" print zine, Issue #4, August 2004; reprinted in "Queer Ramblings" print zine, Issue #4 November 2004; to be reprinted in "The Bottom Line Magazine", September 2005).
* "Voyage to Planet California" in "Bi Women", Vol. 15 No. 2, April/May 1997 (reprinted in the online journal "Awakened Woman", February 5, 2004);
* "The Love of Singing That Dare Not Speak Its Name" in KP Pride Voices, Fall 1999;
* "Hands-On Experience" in "Hospital Physician", December 1998 (this story was used as a teaching example in the undergraduate course "Introduction to Rhetoric, Language and Culture" at the University of Hartford in the fall of 2002).
* "Telegram from Another Planet" and "Family Medicine" in the anthology "Becoming Doctors", edited by Parminder Bolina, Student Doctors Press, 1995;
* "Adonais Opted Out" in "Diverticulum", Spring 1994;
* "Drowning in the Gene Pool" in Diverticulum, Spring 1991;
* "Superman Swims the Sound" in "Gringo Grita", September/October 1986.


* "East Oakland New Year's" forthcoming online in "SoMa Literary Review", December 2008;
* "The White Hospital" forthcoming in "Bellevue Literary Review", Fall 2008;
* "Aaron on the Mountaintop" forthcoming online in "SoMa Literary Review", 2008;
* "Words of Wisdom" in "Poetalk", Winter/Spring 2008;
* "The Horizontal Poet" in "Cherry Bleeds", March 2008;
* Al-Salaam Boccaccio" in the "Redwood Coast Review", Winter 2007/2008;
* "Lighting Up the Albany Bulb" in S"an Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly", No. 36, November 2007;
* "Pumpkin Eater" in the e-zine "Instant Pussy", Issue #16, October 2007;
* "Preventative Dentistry" in "Zen Baby", Issue 18, 2007;
* "Don't Tell Me" posted in Sandra Kay's blog shesayswithasmile.blogspot.com, October 15, 2007;
* "Lake Bed" selected for the American Pain Foundation's Pain and Creativity Exhibit, October 2007;
* "The History of Our Love" in "Redwood Coast Review", Vol. 9, No. 4, October 2007;
* "King of the Hill" online in "Poet's Lane", October 2007;
* "Look Back in Angora" in "Neon Geyser, Porcelain Sky", Vol. 3 Issue 3, September 2007 (the journal can be downloaded as a pdf from the Zeitgeist Press website);
* "A Sense of Release" in the e-zine "Instant Pussy", Issue #14, August 2007;
* "The Gold Club" online in "SoMa Literary Review", August 2007;
* "Alameda in the Shutter-Click," winner of the 2007 Jewel by the Bay Poetry Award, in the "Alameda Sun", Aug. 3, 2007;
* "Maria Green" in "Neon Geyser, Porcelain Sky", Vol. 3, Issue 2 (the journal can be downloaded as a pdf from the Zeitgeist Press website);
* "Fourteen Crossings" and "The Underwater Hospital" in "Red Rock Review", Issue 20, 2007;
* "Home Run" and "Black Leather" in "Harrington Lesbian Literary Quarterly", Vol. 8, Issue 1, 2007;
* "Performance Anxiety" online in "SoMa Literary Review", May 2007;
* "Behind the Portrait" in the anthology HeArt's Desire: A Poetic Complement to the Adobe Art Gallery Exhibition, edited by elizaBeth Benson-Udom, Lulu, 2007;
* "Hungry on the High Wire" in "Street Sheet", January 2007;
* "Harmless Fun" in "Street Spirit", Vol. 13, No. 1, January 2007;
* "On a Lesbian Wedding in the Woods" in the anthology "What I Want From You: Voices of East Bay Lesbian Poets", edited by Linda Zeiser and Trena Machado, RAW ArT PRESS, 2006;
* "Charity after the Hurricane" online in "SoMa Literary Review", August 2006;
* "Another Country" online in "The Potomac", April 2006;
* "Diamonds and Rubies" in the online journal "New Works Review", April-June, 2006;
* "The Underwater Hospital" and "Harder" in "The Pedestal Magazine" online, Issue 32, February-April 2006 ("The Underwater Hospital" was reprinted in "The Pedestal Magazine" Issue 38, Feb-April 2007 as 3rd-Place Winner in the "Pedestal Readers' Award" contest, and also reprinted in "Red Rock Review", Issue 20, 2007);
* "Queréndaro" in "Street Spirit", Vol. 12, No. 1, January 2006;
* "What Saint Francis Saw" in "Street Spirit", Vol. 12, No. 1, January 2006;
* "35th Avenue Ladybug" in the anthology "Oakland's Neighborhoods", edited by Erika Mailman, Mailman Press, 2005 (also appeared in "SoMa Literary Review", November 2005, and in "Street Spirit", December 2005);
* "The Maiden Aunts" in "The Pedestal Magazine" online, Issue 30, October/November 2005 (also forthcoming in "Awakened Woman" in 2006, and in the anthology "Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust", 2nd edition, edited by Charles Fishman, Time Being Books, 2007);
* "Three Little Sisters" in "Street Spirit", Volume 11, No. 9, September 2005;
* "Adam's Appleseed" in the "Bay Area Poets Seasonal Review", Summer 2005;
* "Boadicea Embarks" in the anthology "I'm Home: What It's Like to Love a Woman" (iUniverse, 2005), edited by Ann Wells (reprinted in "Woman-Stirred", October 20, 2006);
* "Himno a los Tres Santos" in "BorderSenses", Volume VIII, November 2004 (also forthcoming online at "El Portal de una Musa", edited by Ana Maria Amaral de Romero, November 2005);
* "Seed Pearl" in "Poetalk", 2004 (reprinted in "Poet's Lane", March 2006);
* "Dios le bendiga" in the online journal "Lit Pot", Vol. III, Issue 8, August 2004, and in the print journal "Ink Pot", No. 4, June 2004 (reprinted in "Street Spirit", Vol. 12, No. 1, January 2006);
* "Hard as Nails" in the online journal "Lit Pot", Vol. III, Issue 8, August 2004, and in the print journal "Ink Pot", No. 4, June 2004 (reprinted in "The Fence" print zine, Issue #6, September 2005; reprinted in the anthology "What I Want From You: Voices of East Bay Lesbian Poets", edited by Linda Zeiser, RAW ArT PRESS, 2006);
* "Swallowing Flies", "East Bay Cinderella", "Make It Look Easy" and "The Pediatrician's Prayer for Perfection" in the online journal "Writers Monthly", May 2004 (Featured Poet);
* "Daddy's Little Girl" in "Coffy Time Blues Erotica Zine" online, November 2003 (reprinted in "The Fence" print zine, Issue #5, February 2005);
* "Reviewing Images" and "The Pediatrician's Prayer for Perfection" in the online journal "Awakened Woman", August 2003;
* "Jane's Ark" in "Coffy Time Blues Lesbian Literary Zine" online, May 2003 (reprinted in "The Fence" print zine, Issue #5, February 2005; reprinted in the anthology "What I Want From You: Voices of East Bay Lesbian Poets", edited by Linda Zeiser, RAW ArT PRESS, 2006);
* "The Pediatrician's Prayer for Perfection" and "Radiating Pain" in "WomanPrayers", edited by Mary Ford-Grabowsky, HarperSF, May 2003;
* "Tiresias" in "Diverticulum", Spring 1994 (reprinted in "BiWomen", the newsletter of the Boston Bisexual Women's Network; awarded the Triplopia Magazine Best of the Best Award in 2006, and reprinted there along with an interview with Steckel by Tracy Koretsky, contributing editor to "Triplopia" and author of "Ropeless". Reprinted in "BiMagazine" in December, 2006).


* "Truth in Free-Will Advertising" in "The Eloquent Atheist", February 2008;
* "What Kind of Romantic Are You?" in "Subtle Tea", January-March 2008;
* "Priceless" in "Zygote in my Coffee", Issue 99, November 2007;
* "The Necropolis Next Door" in "SoMa Literary Review", October 2007;
* "Bi-Dyke Bonnie and the Sword of Snart" online in "biMagazine", August 2007;
* "Mixing Tracks" in the online journal "Suspect Thoughts," January 2007;
* "Le Thé Dansant" in the online journal "poeticdiversity", Vol.4, No. 4, November 2006;
* "Alex the Dragon" in the online journal "Lodestar Quarterly", Winter 2005 (to be reprinted in "Queer Collection 2008" [Fabulist Flash Publishing, 2008] , ed. Gregory Kompes);
* "Black and White Virgins" in the online journal "Flashquake", Vol. 4, Issue 4, June 2005;
* "The Intelliblender" in "Problem Child" print zine, Issue 2, Winter 2004;
* "The Sea That Sometimes Frightened Us" in the online journal "Lodestar Quarterly," Summer 2004;
* "The Christening of Alonso" in the online journal "Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism", June 2004;
* "Fishes in the Sky" in the online magazine "Literary Potpourri," September 2003 (also appearing in print in the "Literary Potpourri Anthology", volume II, No. 3, July/August/September 2003);
* "That Balding Angel" in "Problem Child" print zine, Issue 1, March 2003;
* "Clove Hitch and Sheet Bend" in "Touchwords" e-book, edited by Mat Twassel and Joyce Melton, Calendar.atEROS, December 2002;
* "Debbie Does Salad" in "Clean Sheets" online magazine, July 24, 2002;
* "A Dish Best Eaten Chilled in Aspic" in "Collection" 33, May 1995;
* "Chemé" in "Yale Medicine," Fall/Winter 1992-1993;
* "California Dreamin'" in "Scholastic Magazine", 1975.

External Links

* [http://www.jansteckel.com/index.html Jan Steckel's Professional Website]
* [http://woman-stirred.blogspot.com Woman-Stirred, a Queer Woman's Writing Collective]

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