top of page

I Wish

I Wasn't


[a playable chapbook]



I Wish I Wasn’t Royalty is a poetic and artistic collaboration among four bipolar poets and a bipolar poet/illustrator resulting in a functional 54-card playing card deck. The design of the deck is based on the standard French-style deck.

A standard card deck (ex: the classic Bicycle Poker Deck) contains four suits: hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds. I Wish I Wasn’t Royalty follows the same format. Each of the four poets is given a suit that their poem is written across.

All of the cards and deck boxes are sized like standard poker cards: 2.5" x 3.5"


The cards are printed in color on both sides and feature custom artwork from Catherine Weiss. The backs of the cards will all be uniform, but the faces of the cards are individually designed with an illustration and one line from a featured poet’s poem. 

Every face card features a portrait of the poet as a Jack, King, or Queen with text. Cards 2-10 feature a specific illustration with text. The Ace for each suit features the custom pip, the title of the poem, and the name of the poet.



Each of the poets offers one poem about a bipolar extreme mood state—either depression or mania. Each poem is written so that one line is included in the design of the card, so that if you laid the suits out in order you could read the entire poem from beginning to end.

Four suits, four poets, four poems.


Living with bipolar disorder is often full of surprising juxtapositions. Mania can cause thoughts to make unexpected connections. Depression can bring confusion and a sense of distant unreality.

Every line of every poem in I Wish I Wasn’t Royalty is designed to be a stand-alone thought or image, read as part of its whole poem, or combined in unexpected ways with cards from other suits. Playing a game of cards with this deck creates opportunities for poetic fragments to offer up an ever-shifting found poem, which echoes the experience of living with extreme mood-states.

Any game you can play with a standard 54-card deck, you will be able to play with I Wish I Wasn’t Royalty.



Lyd Havens is the author of the chapbook I Gave Birth to All the Ghosts Here (Nostrovia! Press, 2018). The winner of the 2018 ellipsis… Poetry Prize, their work has been published in Ploughshares, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Glass: a Journal of Poetry, among others. Lyd is currently an undergraduate at Boise State University, where they are studying creative writing and history. They were born on their due date, and have been intensely punctual to everything since. 

John-Francis Quiñonez is

a Desert Flower & Current Resident of Providence, Educator, Provider of Accessible Aide as Your Queer Mawm, and Poet./////

Truly just a Queer, Latinx Wild Thing on the Hunt for Candy almost Always.////

Has a handful of Poems in Maps for Teeth, Yellow Chair Review, Voicemail Poems, Counterclock, and Pigeon Pages///

Is trying their best not to talk too much about Rock and Roll or Fruit Bats, but Promises Nothing. 


Taylor Steele is an NYC-born and -based poet, playwright, comedy writer, and performer. An internationally-ranked spoken word artist, she has been featured on Huffington Post, Brooklyn Poets, Button Poetry and was a 2016 Pushcart Nominee. Taylor has written content for The Body is Not an Apology, AFROPUNK, Samuel French, Anomalous Press, and Philadelphia Printworks. Her play “Girls Act Out” received a Fall Residency at The Center at West Park in 2019. Informed by her experiences as an educator, theater/film-maker, and queer blk neurodivergent triple-taurus femme, Taylor’s art seeks to ask questions and make a healing possible. For more information about her work, you can visit

Jaz Sufi (she/hers) is a mixed race Iranian-American poet and arts educator. Her work has been published or is upcoming in AGNI, PANK, Birdfeast, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She is a Kundiman fellow and National Poetry Slam finalist, and is currently an MFA candidate and Goldwater fellow at New York University..




Catherine Weiss is a poet and illustrator based in New England. Their poems have been published in Tinderbox Poetry, Up the Staircase Quarterly, petrichor, Noble/Gas Quarterly, and elsewhere. Catherine was also the 2017 Grand Slam Champion and the 2018 WOWPS rep of Northampton Poetry. Their illustrations have appeared in Anxy Magazine, and have been featured on several chapbooks and broadsides. They have designed t-shirts for several organizations including Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) and Pulp Poetry Slam. For more, go to

bottom of page