Autism blogger Amanda Baggs compares those of us who use language to dwellers on a high cliff which all other, such as those with autism, are expected to ascend. Her point is that, though the cliffs and mountains are both interesting and worthwhile places in which to live, few of us cliff-dweller deign to into the valley. Luckily, through the use of facilitated communication and technology, many of those with autism are learning to scale the cliffs to interpret their world for us in their own language.
Within the past few years several books have appeared that provide a starting point for giving writers with autism a voice. The following four might be a starting point for interested readers.
A Doorknob for an Eye (D. J. Savarse). D. J. Savarese was the first autistic student to graduate from Oberlin College. In this small book of ekphrastic poems Savarese looks at artwork by autistic arts with an insight that only someone who experienced autism from the inside out could write. The book is published by poet Chris Martin and Unlimited Editions, which promotes the work of autistic poets.
Hoshi and the Red City Circuit (Dora Raymaker). Raymaker brings her own experiences as a writer with autism to bear in a cyperpunk mystery novel in which the narrator inhabits a world that relies on the technical expertise and non-verbal communication skills of people with autism while at the same time relegating them to a position of quasi-citizens. Her ability to convey the inner-workings of her narrators mind is a tour-de-force.
See it Feelingly (Ralph Savarese). If the name is familiar, it is because Ralph Savarese is D.J.’s father and a long time educator, researcher and autism advocate, though not on the spectrum himself. Savarese’s thesis in this book is that people with autism are capable of reading and engaging with classic American novels. The core of the book consists of interviews with autistic readers including Raymaker, Tito Mukhopadhyay and Temple Grandin.
Autism in a Decentered World (Alice Wexler). Wexler is a neurotypical writer and much of the first part of the book is based on the theories of philosophers and neurobiologists, but she also tries to give equal time to autistic writers and artists and arguing for the notion of difference as one of parity and mutual respect between those on the cliffs and those in the valleys.
In contrast to these four writers whose work is not always available in main chain bookstores, Grandin and Mukhopadhyay have several books that are much easy to find. Raymaker’s book will be available at the Disability Literature Consortium Booth at the AWP book fair in Portland, Oregon later this month. She will also be taking part in the consortium’s off site reading on Thursday, March 28. (See Feb. 20 post for details).
Compared with their American and British counterparts, Canadian writers with disabilities have had relatively little opportunity to see their work featured in publications focusing on the work of writers from their own country. Canadian poet Shane Neilson (the author of Dysphoria) is trying to help remedy this by leading a special of Hamilton Letters and Arts Magazine that forefronts the literary work of disabled Canadian writers. The issue will appear in Fall of 2019 but the deadline for submitting work for the issue is April 29. The link to submission guidelines and more detailed information is: https://halmagazine.wordpress.com/submit/submit-to-hal-magazine/
It is a great opportunity for Canadian writers to get their work before the public. If all goes well with this issue, it will provide on step towards being able to see the Canadian equivalent to anthologies like Beauty is a Verb or Stair and Whispers.
We are very pleased to announce that the Disability Literature Consortium (DLC) has received its new official status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization!
Our nonprofit status will help us sustain as a charitable organization so please, when we have one of our periodic AWP Fundraisers (attendance is expensive) consider donating.
Thank you for everything you do.
Zoeglossia is announcing its call for fellows.
Zoeglossia is a literary organization that is seeking to pioneer an inclusive space for poets with disabilities. Much like its forbearers Canto Mundo, Kundiman, Cave Canem, Vona, and Lambda Literary, Zoeglossia strives to create an open and supportive community that fosters creativity for poets with disabilities.
During an annual, 3-day retreat, eight poets from all backgrounds will have the chance to workshop with established writers, and give and attend panel discussions and readings. Our yearly retreats aim to promote professional as well as artistic development.
Zoeglossia’s 3-day retreat will be held annually at the Our Lady of the Lake in San Antonio, Texas. Poets with all forms of disabilities, ages 21 and over, are eligible to apply. Fellows, once accepted, are invited to attend two additional retreats within a five-year period.
DEADLINE TO APPLY: December 15, 2018 at 11:59 pm EST
APPLICATION FEE: $10 on the website: http://www.zoeglossia.org/donation to Zoeglossia (HOW?)
Attendance costs: Each fellow will be responsible for their transportation to and from San Antonio. There will also be a $200 tuition fee which goes toward food and lodging. If necessary, financial assistance may be applied for once accepted to the program. The fees are still being determined and are subject to change.
Teaching Faculty: Cecil Giscomb, Jennifer Bartlett, Ellen McGrath Smith
• Poets with disabilities who live within the United States
• PoetsApplicants must be 21 years old andor older
To submit, please make a $10 donation on the Zoeglossia website:
Please submit the following to firstname.lastname@example.org. All applications must appear in
one Word document or PDF with the applicant’s last name (underscore) first name
(Smith_Sally) as the name of the file.
• Ten pages of poems
• c.v. (no longer than 2 pages)
• The name and contact information of two references
• Two-page statement of purpose detailing your interest in poetry and the disability community
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/.