Tomorrow at the annual Collingswood Book Festival in New Jersey, the Disability Literature Consortium will be setting up its booth with books representing the work of over 50 writers with disabilities or who write about disability. The range of books that will be appearing there is impressive: poetry, fiction, memoir, disability studies, Deaf culture, and LGBT focused work.
The Dis Lit Constortium represents the work of small literary journals who focus on disability-related writing: Kaleidoscope, Breath & Shadow, Wordgathering, Pentimento, Intima, and Deaf Poets’ Society. It is also heavily indebted to the work of writer Sean Mahoney and of the many writers who donated their work to help get the consortium of the ground for its inaugural appearance at AWP in Los Angeles this year.
While the AWP experience was a success, offering many writers and educators the chance to see the wealth of material available to them from disability literature, the Collingswood Book Festival offers the opportunity for a different audience. Those attending the festival are primarily readers, not necessarily writers or educators themselves. This brings all who are involved in disability literature one step closer to our ultimate goal – to get the work of the outstanding writers that we represent into the general public.
The Collingswood festival will be running rain (likely!) or shine. Those who live in the Philadelphia or Delaware Valley area should drop in to see what we are up to.
AWP has released their updated accessibility services plan well ahead of the 2017 conference in Washington, DC. You can read it here.
While the Disability Literature Consortium is preparing for its next major event – participation in the Collingswood Book Festival on October 1 – it has also acquired a much more modest but longer term venue for some of its work. This is the Station café in Merchantville, New Jersey run by Eiland Arts.
The Station, as its name implies, is a small converted train depot next to the old train tracks that run through the center of Merchantville, where trains once ran from Philadelphia to Atlantic City. It is now a coffee shop, art studio and gift store that highlights the work of regional artists and authors.
As a first step, Eiland Arts will take on three copies each of the books of ten writers from the consortium. Sale money from the work of books donated by the authors will be returned to the Dis Lit Consortium and that from regular sales will go to the author. Full disclosure: we’ve front loaded the first placement of books with a heavy emphasis on the donated work. We’ve done this both to keep costs lower and as a thanks in book exposure to those who donated. If books move along, as we hope they will, we will begin to replace more of these with books whose money goes directly to the author.
It’s a small start in the relatively quite village of Merchantville, but it is a great feeling to know that someone can go into a shop and see so much disability-related literary work in one place.