This Thursday, October 18, an important event in disability literature will be taking place at the University of Pennsylvania: The Disability Poetics Symposium. As befits a university symposium there will be scholarly round tables on the work of Larry Eigner, disability and performance, and disability and experimental poetics. These will include nationally known writers such as Michael Davidson, Jennifer Bartlett, Camisha Jones and Charles Bernstein. There will also be public poetry readings with a heavy nod toward Philadelphia based poets like Dan Simpson, Anne Kaier, Brian Teare and Ona Gritz. It should be a great opportunity for anyone interested in disability poetry to see what the movement is all about. A schedule with specific information can be found at https://newdisabilitypoetics.wordpress.com/2018/09/07/schedule/
Opportunities for the work of writers with disabilities to have their published books recognized do not come along frequently so when they do, we need to take advantage of them
This fall, Etchings Press, a student-run publisher at the University of Indianapolis, will host the 2018 Whirling Prize. This is an annual competition for which students at UIndy select a theme and then judge the competition, selecting two books to honor. Student judges welcome books that have been published since January 2016 that are connected to the theme of disability. They are interested in reading books with a focus on disabilities either visible (manifesting in symptoms people see and respond to) or invisible (like mental illness, addiction, learning disabilities). All writers focusing on related topics of any genre are welcome to participate. The winners will receive a $500 cash prize and 25 copies of a letterpress broadside designed by students of Hullabaloo Press. The winners will also be featured in an episode of a literary podcast that will air in winter 2019, discussing their work and craft with the student judges. The postmark deadline for submission is Sept. 1, 2018. If you have an eligible book and would like to participate, the guidelines may be found at http://blogs.uindy.edu/etchings/whirling-prize/.
Though it has nothing specifically to do with disability writing, this coming winter, Etchings Press will also host the 2019 Chapbook Prizes in Poetry and Prose as well as its Novella Prize. UIndy students will read unpublished manuscripts and choose a winner in each category: chapbook of poetry, chapbook of prose, and a novella. The students will then edit, design, publish and promote the chapbooks and the novella. Mixed genre and multiple author manuscripts as well as all topics/themes are welcome. The deadline for these contests is Monday, January 28, 2019. Student editors are interested in editing and publishing authors in Indiana region; the students use a 370-mile circle around Indianapolis, as the relative mileage for regional literature. If you have an unpublished, eligible book and would like to participate in the contest, they may learn more about the guidelines and the 2018 winners, Chad V. Broughman (for the forsaken…), Robert Campbell (for In the Herald of Improbable Misfortune), and James R. Gapinski (for The Edge of the Known Busline), at http://blogs.uindy.edu/etchings/chapbook-contest/.
Please stop by and browse lazily until you are quite full.
In addition to the publication of new literary and art work, one of the services that the journals of the Disability Literature Consortium performs is to review new disability-related books. These are books by disabled writers or that involve concepts of disability and embodiment.
Below is a list of all of the works that have been reviewed by the members of the Dis Lit Consortium – Kaleidoscope, Breath and Shadow, Wordgathering, The Deaf Poets Society and Rogue Agent – that have been reviewed in the past year. The books are categories by literary genre, and listed alphabetically by author. Following each book, is the name and issue of publication in which the review appear. For ease in locating the reviews, at the end of the book lists is a list of the journals and the links to their websites.
Jay Besemer – Chelate [The Deaf Poets Society, January, 2017]
Molly McCully Brown – Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and the Feeble- Minded [Wordgathering, September 2017]
Marlena Chertock On That One-Way Trip to Mars [Rogue Agent, August 2017]
Crumb-sized [Wordgathering, September 2017]
Claudia Cortese – The Wasp Queen [Rogue Agent, October 2017]
Barbara Crooker – Les Fauves[Wordgathering, December 2017]
Melissa Elifterion – Field Guide to Autobiography [Rogue Agent, September 2017]
Jessica Goody – Defense Mechanisms [Breath and Shadow, Fall 2017; Wordgathering, September 2017]
Ona Gritz and Daniel Simpson – Border Songs [Wordgathering, December 2017]
Avery Guess – The Patient Admits [Rogue Agent, February 2018; Wordgathering, December 2017]
Cynthia Hogue – In June, the Labrynth [Wordgathering, September 2017]
Andy Jackson – Music Our Bodies Can’t Hold [Wordgathering, March 2018]
Jenny Johnson – In Full Velvet [Rogue Agent, April 2018]
Camisha Jones – Flare [Rogue Agent, December 2017]
Marie Kane – Beauty You Drive a Hard Bargain [Wordgathering, December 2017]
Jen Karetnick – American Sentencing [Wordgathering, March 2018]
Jill Khoury – Suites for the Modern Dancer [The Deaf Poets Society, August, 2017]
Muriel Leung – Bone Confetti [Rogue Agent, July 2017]
Raymond Luczak – The Kiss of Walt Whitman is Still On My Lips [The Deaf Poets Society, January, 2017]
Shane Neilson – Dysphoria [Wordgathering, December 2017]
Jennifer Jackson Perry – The Feeder [Rogue Agent, June 2017]
DJ Savarese – A Doorknob for an Eye [Wordgathering, December 2017]
ire’ne lara silvo – Blood Sugar Canto [Rogue Agent, June 2017]
Christine Stewart-Nuñez – Bluewords Greening [Wordgathering, December 2017]
Meg Eden – Post High School Reality Quest [Wordgathering, September 2017]
Anne Finger – A Woman, In Bed [Wordgathering, March 2018]
Raymond Luczak – The Kinda Fella I Am [Wordgathering, March 2018]
Kristen Ringman – I Stole You [Wordgathering, September 2017]
Teen Writers of Beacon House – The Day Tajon Got Shot [Wordgathering, December 2017]
Kristen Witucki – Outside Myself [Wordgathering, March 2018]
- Memoir and Essay (Non-fiction)
Shahd Alshammari – Notes on the Flesh [Wordgathering, September 2017]
Anne Chiappettta – Follow Your Dog [Wordgathering, March 2018]
Eli Claire – Brilliant Imperfection [The Deaf Poets Society, August, 2017; Wordgathering, September 2017]
Christina Crosby – A Body Undone [The Deaf Poets Society, May, 2017]
Kelly Davio – It’s Just Nerves [Wordgathering, September 2017]
Michael Fredericks and Susan Silver – A Doctor’s Confession [Breath and Shadow, Fall 2017]
Kenny Fries – In the Province of the Gods [Wordgathering, September 2017]
Rosemarie Garland Thomson – Extraordinary Bodies [Breath and Shadow, Summer 2017; Wordgathering, September 2017]
Sandra Alland, Khaironi Barokka and Daniel Sluman – Stairs and Whispers: D/Disabled Poets Write Back [Wordgathering, September 2017]
Sheila Black, Michael Northen and Annabelle Hayse – The Right Way to Be Crippled and Naked: The Fiction of Disability [Breath and Shadow, Spring 2017; Deaf Poets Society, May, 2017; Kaleidoscope, Winter 2017]
Christopher Jon Heuer – Tripping the Tale Fantastic: Weird Fiction by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Writers [Breath and Shadow, Fall 2017; Wordgathering, September 2017]
Heather Taylor Johnson – Shaping The Fractured Self: Poetry of Chronic Illness and Pain[Wordgathering, March 2018]
Chris Kuell – Dozen: The Best of Breath and Shadow Breath and Shadow, Fall 2017]
Breath and Shadow, https://www.abilitymaine.org/breath
The Deaf Poets Society, https://www.deafpoetssociety.com/
Rogue Agent, http://www.rogueagentjournal.com/
Now that Spring is here, all of the journals that make up the Disability Literature Consortium have had the chance to put out their first issue. Each is unique in its own way, but all provide opportunities for writers with disabilities and readers interested in what is happening in disability literature. It’s an old saw but true that for writers interested in submitting their work, the best strategy is to take a look at what these journals are publishing. The journals are listed here in order of the length of time they have been in existence, led off by Kaleidoscope, the venerable pioneer that got it all started.
Kaleidoscope – Though the journal includes a wide variety of genres this issue is noteworthy for the amount of disability short fiction that it includes. https://www.scribd.com/document/368944821/Issue-76-Life-s-Unpredictability
Breath and Shadow – A nice mix of work, featuring many new writers. In this issue, the essay on disability fashion may be the most unique. https://www.abilitymaine.org/copy-of-fall-2017-issue
Wordgathering – Of particular note in this issue is the review of the movie Deej, and as always, this journal provides the largest variety of book reviews. http://www.wordgathering.com/
Rogue Agent – As usual, this issue is beautifully done, concentrating on art and poetry. It is also exceptional in providing links to important published poems in other journals. http://www.rogueagentjournal.com/
The Deaf Poets Society – very strong in art and poetry, this issue is noteworthy for the publication of global writers. https://www.deafpoetssociety.com/
Among the good problems that the Disability Literature Consortium faced at the recent AWP bookfair was how to display the sheer variety of books that came to us from various authors. For readers interested but not familiar with field, it can be overwhelming. One of the best solutions to get to know various writers and their work is an anthology. Indeed, anthologies were among our best sellers at the Dis Lit table simply for that reason.
Below are ten anthologies, arranged in order of publication date, that not only give readers a solid introduction to disability literary work but can provide a valuable reference for those who teacher. The list below looks only at collections that feature the work of traditional literary genres such as poetry, fiction and drama. It does not include those that focus on scholarly research or that provide space for personal testimony about disability. It is by no means exhaustive, but anyone with the following on their bookshelves will definitely be able to contribute to the discussion.
Beyond Victims and Villains: Contemporary Plays by Disabled Playwrights. (Theater Communications Group, 2006). Edited by Victoria Ann Lewis.
When it came out, Lewis’ anthology of plays written by disabled playwrights and featuring characters with disabilities was ground-breaking and it remains the best of its kind. It includes work by Susan Nussbaum, Lynn Manning and Mike Ervin among others.
Deaf American Poetry: An Anthology (Gallaudet University Press, 2009). Edited by John Lee Clark.
Clark established, once and for all that Deaf poetry has a history. Proceeding chronologically, he has sampled work by deaf writers from the early 1800’s up into the 21st century. Each poet is represented by a short biographical article and poetry.
Tilling the Hard Soil: Poetry Prose and Art by South African Writers with Disabilities. (University of Kwa-Zulu Natal Press, 2010). Edited by Kobus Moolman.
Moolman’s anthology is not strictly literary in that many of the pieces are biographical, but it is one of the very few anthologies that gives an African perspective on disability, which can depart considerably from those offered in other anthologies.
Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black and Michael Northen.
The first anthology of American poetry by disabled writers to really gather the top poets in the field. While providing samples of some of the pioneers like Larry Eigner and Vassar Miller, it focuses on contemporary poetry. Each writers work is accompanied by an essay relating the poets art to disability.
Deaf Lit Extravaganza (Handtype Press, 2013) Edited by John Lee Clark. In this anthology Clark and Handype Press display the wide variety of literary work being created by D/deaf writers.
Accessing the Future: A Disability Themed Speculative Fiction Anthology. (Futurefire.net Publishing, 2015). Edited by Kathryn Allan and Djibril Al-Ayad.
Speculative fiction (particularly sci-fi) is one of the most fertile areas for exploration disability fiction because of its social and philosophical implications. Allan, a scholar in this area, has gathered together stories that deal with some of the most explosive issues.
QDA: A Queer Disabled Anthology. (Squares & Rebels Press) Edited by Raymond Luczak.
Lucak may be the USA’s most involved writer/editor/publisher for work at the intersection of Deaf and LGBTQ literature. He has gathered together many voices in the field.
The Right Way to Be Crippled and Naked: The Fiction of Disability. (Cinco Puntos Press, 2017). Edited by Sheila Black, Michael Northen and Annabelle Hayes.
A kind of companion book to Beauty is a Verb, this is Black and Northen’s attempt to ferret out the best disability short fiction that has been written and make it accessible to readers by putting it in one place.
Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back. (Nine Arches Press, 2017). Edited by Sandra Alland, Khairani Barokka and Daniel Sluman.
This anthology does for disability poetry of the UK what Beauty is a Verb did for American disability poetry. Coming six years later, however, it is more generally more experimental and much more in touch with the need for multiple modes of access.
Shaping the Fractured Self: Poetry of Chronic Illness and Pain. (UWA Press, 2017). Edited by Heather Taylor Johnson.
Notwithstanding its title, this anthology published by the University of Western Australia his heavily oriented to the work of Australian writers with disabilities. It pays tribute to Beauty is a Verb as well, and like that book, includes important essays by the writers like Andy Jackson and Anne M. Carson that complement their poetry.
As those who recently visited the Disability Literature Consortium both at AWP know, there are a variety of journals that are actively looking for the shorter work of writers with disabilities, but what many disabled writes may not know is that there are also a growing number of small presses where they can submit completed book manuscripts for publication.
Handtype Press – Publisher Raymond Luczak founded this press to promote the writer of Deaf and hearing impaired authors. It publishes a small, select number of books this year and has published work such as John Lee Clark’s Deaf Lit Extravaganza and Kristen Ringman’s Makara. www.handtypepress.com
Reclamation Press – Reclamation Press is a relatively new press that publishers approximate four books per year. Publisher Corbett O’Toole says, “We look for disabled writers who have rich and complex stories to tell in both fiction and nonfiction.” https://www.reclapress.com/
Unrestricted Interest – Unrestricted Interest is part of Chris Martin’s project to foster and publish the work of poets with autism. The most recent publication is DJ Savarese’s book A Doorknob for an Eye. http://www.unrestrictedinterest.com/
Finishing Line Press – Though not officially strictly a press for disabled writers, Finishing Line may be the single largest publisher of literary work by writers with disabilities. This is due principally to the work of editor Leah Maines, herself a writer with a disability, who seeks out the work of disabled women poets. This has included work by Ona Gritz, Kathi Wolfe and Liz Whiteacre. https://www.finishinglinepress.com/
Nine Arches Press – Nine Arches Press may be the go to press for UK writers. Publisher Jane Commane has long supported the work of poets like Markie Burnhope and recently produced Stairs and Whispers, an anthology of poetry by Deaf/disabled authors. https://www.ninearchespress.com
Squares & Rebels – This is another press that is the work of Raymond Luczak, but is dedicated to the work of LGBTQ writers, particularly as they intersect with disability. Recent publications include Luczak’s own anthology DQA and Kelly Davio’s It’s Just Nerves. www.squaresandrebels.com/
Cinco Puntos Press – Though not a disability press per se, Lee and Bobby Byrds press has back two important anthologies Beauty is a Verb and The Right Way to Be Crippled and Naked, and recently published a novel by disability fiction pioneer Anne Finger. https://www.cincopuntos.com/