Recently two new literature anthologies have appeared that should command the attention of writers with disabilities and anyone else interested in the field of disability literature. The first is Dozen: The Best of Breath and Shadow, edited by Chris Kuell. As is well known, Breath and Shadow, which officially appeared first in 2004, is one of the oldest literary journals in the United States to be created specifically to promote disability literature and the oldest to be edited by and exclusively dedicated to the work of writers with disabilities. Kuell, Breath and Shadow’s editor for the past nine years, has culled together into one volume what he considers to be the best writing to come out of the journal since its inception.
Unlike some anthologies that are top-heavy with poetry, Dozen includes an admirable mixture of fiction, life-writing, personal essay and poetry. Readers familiar with other literary magazine of disability writing will recognize many familiar names and Dozen keeps the promise of eschewing academically oriented writing to offer up writing that is accessible to a wide range of readers. Indispensible to the anthology, is Sharon Wachler’s essay “Beginning Breath and Shadow: Creating a Literary Community.” Wachsler was the original editor of B & S, preceding Kuell. Her essay the journal’s original mission and runs through a range of considerations that all writers or editors should reflect upon and take seriously.
The second anthology is The Right Way to Be Crippled and Naked: The Fiction of Disability edited by Sheila Black, Michael Northen and Annabelle Hayse, published by Cinco Puntos Press. The editors have collected some of the top short fiction written by authors with disabilities. Many of the writers like Anne Finger, Stephen Kuusisto and Thom Jones are well known, but some impressive work by new comers is also included. Each piece of short fiction is complimented by the author’s statement about the story included. Like Beauty is a Verb, which Black and Northen previously edited, The Right Way is the first of its kind in terms of being a genre-specific anthology composed solely of high-quality literary work by writers with disabilities. Like it’s predecessor, it will also be a very valuable tool in literature classrooms.
Both books are among the many that will be available at the Disability Literature Consortium booth at this year’s AWP conference in Washington, DC.