Special Episode: Postpartum Psychosis

A panel discussion with Chaya Bhuvaneswar, a psychiatrist and author of White Dancing Elephants, who has treated postpartum patients in-hospital, including at a forensic psych ward for women awaiting trial for harming their children. Sharline Chiang is a writer, editor, book coach, publicist, and journalist who wrote, among many other articles, Don’t Call It Baby Blues, the only existing online magazine article on Asian American survivors of postpartum depression. Kathryn Gahl is the author of The Yellow Toothbrush, a look at anxiety, depression, OCD, and paranoid thinking through the eyes of a mother whose daughter is experiencing a prison sentence after committing filicide. 

Thank you, viewers and listeners, for helping to make Writer Mother Monster a safe space for our guests to share their stories as we come together tonight to illuminate and complicate what we think we know about postpartum psychosis and depression. 


Chaya Bhuvaneswar

Chaya Bhuvaneswar is a South Asian-American psychiatrist, poet, award-winning fiction writer and essayist. Chaya’s debut short story collection, White Dancing Elephants, was a finalist for the 2019 PEN American/Robert W. Bingham Debut Fiction Prize, winner of the “35 Over 35” Debut authors, and winner of the Dzanc Books Short Story Collection. Her short fiction has also been anthologized in Her Mother’s Ashes 2 (TSAR Press) and Best Small Fictions (Sundress Press). Her work as a psychiatrist has been published in more than 30 peer-reviewed medical journals and has received clinical research funding to develop effective treatments for trauma and its aftermath from the National Institutes for Health/ Institutes for Mental HealthShe has published several textbook chapters on the health and well-being of women and people of color (BIPOC patients) from diverse communities, including in Substance Disorders in Pregnancy, Guide to Bipolar Disorder in Geriatric Populations, and The Massachusetts General Hospital Adult Psychiatry Residency Handbook of Psychiatry. 


Sharline Chiang is a writer, editor, book coach, and publicist originally from New Jersey now based in Berkeley, CA. Her writing has appeared in BuzzFeed, Rumpus, OZY, Mutha, Hyphen, and CAAM. She was book editor/coach for the New York Times bestseller Brown Is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority by Steve Phillips. She is a proud, long-time member of VONA, a nationwide community of writers of color.


Kathryn Gahl, who holds dual degrees in English and nursing, is a brightly lit performer whose use of language reaches out and grabs an audience. Her multi-genre writing, deeply rooted in everyday life, combines a certain human pathos with quick wit and smile-worthy lines. Her works appear in three anthologies, four ekphrastic art shows, and more than 50 journals, with awards from Glimmer Train, Margie, Chautauqua, Rosebud, The Mill, Talking Writing, The Hal Prize for Fiction and Poetry, New Millennium Writings, and Wisconsin People & Ideas. A Pushcart nominee, she served as Writer-in-Residence at Lakeland University. In 2019, The Council of Wisconsin Writers presented her the Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award and in 2021, THE VELOCITY OF LOVE (Water’s Edge Press, 2020) received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association. Future releases include HARD LIFE, HARD LOVE (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming 2022), THE YELLOW TOOTHBRUSH (Two Shrews Press, forthcoming 2022), and MESSENGERS OF THE GODS (Cornerstone Press, 2022).

Elizabeth Nunez

Elizabeth Nunez emigrated from Trinidad to the US at age 19. Winner of an American Book Award, an Independent Publishers Award, a PEN Josephine Miles Award, and a Hurston Wright Legacy Award, she is the author of a memoir and ten novels, four of which were selected as New York Times Editors Choice. She is the co-founder with John Oliver Killens of the National Black Writers Conference and executive producer of the series Black Writers in America. She has served on the jury for national and international literary prizes/awards, and is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, CUNY. She has one son, age 46, and two granddaughters ages 15 and 22, and describes writer-motherhood in 3 words as: “life-affirming essential.”

Samantha Silva

(February 21, 2023) Samantha Silva is an author, playwright, and screenwriter based in Idaho. She’s sold film projects to Paramount, Universal, and New Line Cinema, and she is the author of Mr. Dickens and His Carol (Flatiron Books, 2017), and Love and Fury: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft (Flatiron Books, 2021). Sam wrote and directed the award- winning short script, THE BIG BURN, which premiered at the Sun Valley Film Festival in 2017 and adapted Mr. Dickens and His Carol for Seattle Repertory Theater in 2022. Sam has 3 children, ages 28, 26, and 22, and describes writer-motherhood in three words as NECESSITY OF INVENTION.

Rebecca Makkai

(February 14, 2023) Rebecca Makkai’s last novel, THE GREAT BELIEVERS, was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; it was the winner of the ALA Carnegie Medal, the Stonewall Book Award, the Clark Prize, and the LA Times Book Prize; and it was one of the New York Times’ Ten Best Books of 2018. Her other books are the novels THE BORROWER and THE HUNDRED-YEAR HOUSE, and the collection MUSIC FOR WARTIME—four stories from which appeared in The Best American Short Stories. A 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, Rebecca is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada University and Northwestern University, and is Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago. Her new novel is I HAVE SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU (February, 2023). Rebecca has 2 kids ages 12 and 15 and describes writer-motherhood in 3 words as galvanizing, conflicting, temporary.

Artress Bethany White

(February 9, 2023) Artress Bethany White, associate professor of English at East Stroudsburg University, is a poet, essayist, and literary critic. She is the recipient of the Trio Award for her poetry collection My Afmerica: poems and the essay collection, Survivor’s Guilt: Essays on Race and American Identity, which received a 2022 Next Generation Finalist Indie Book Award and is listed as a CLMP social justice read. Her research interests include American slave archives and contemporary African American prose and poetics. She has four children ranging in age from 14 to 26, and describes writer-motherhood in three words as Determined, Fierce, Improvisational.

Lisa Czarina Michaud

(January 31, 2023) Lisa Czarina Michaud is an American novelist of Italian-Mexican origins whose work is inspired by her life experiences. She attended The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington before stumbling through adulthood in Los Angeles. In 2009, she followed in the footsteps of her jazz-singing grandmother and moved to France where she currently resides. Her first novel Slanted and Disenchanted explores complex relationships between mother and daughter, sexual tension in friendships, the confusion of adulting…and the soundtracks that get us through it all. Lisa has one son age 7. She describes writer-motherhood in 3 words as: take it easy.

Caroline Hagood

(January 10, 2023) Caroline Hagood is an Assistant Professor of Literature, Writing and Publishing and Director of Undergraduate Writing at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. She is the author of the poetry books, Lunatic Speaks and Making Maxine’s Baby, the book-length essay, Ways of Looking at a Woman, the novel, Ghosts of America, a book-length essay Weird Girls, and her novel Filthy Creation is forthcoming in March 2023. Her work has appeared in publications including Creative Nonfiction, LitHub, the Kenyon Review, Hanging Loose, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, Salon, and Elle. Caroline lives in Brooklyn and has two kids ages 6 and 9. She describes writer-motherhood in 3 words as: hybrid effing monster.

Anna Hogeland

Anna Hogeland is a psychotherapist in private practice, with an MSW from Smith College School of Social Work and an MFA from UC Irvine. She lives in Vermont. Her essays have appeared in LitHub, Gloss, Big Issue, and elsewhere. The Long Answer, sold in 8 countries to date, is her first novel.

Yexandra Diaz

Yexandra “Yex” Diaz is a multi-disciplinary artist whose oeuvre is her sobering expression of what it is to exist in a world of resistance, resilience, and revolution during a new era of renaissance rooted in healing. Chicago born and New Haven raised, the polarizing reality of oppression juxtaposed alongside privilege inspires Yex, an Oral Narrator, to employ the art of spoken word as a vehicle for messages that raise awareness around social and environmental injustices. Yex’s style uplifts afro-indigenous culture while evoking radical spiritualism to rewrite the dangerous single narratives which plague stigmatized peoples.

Sarah M Jasat

Sarah M Jasat grew up believing her family was very strange but later discovered she was Indian. She lives in Leicester, UK, and writes short fiction about the strangeness of family. She dreams about writing a novel for older children if only she could get her own children to go to sleep.