The Disability Literature Consortium was literally thought out, conjured, and created as a reaction to the way things have existed, and arguably continue to exist, at the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) extravaganza.

In a nutshell: Mr. S attended the AWP event in 2015. Minneapolis, MN. Mr. S had plenty of time to wander and peruse and read and absorb and notice things. Mr. S noticed more than anything else the lack of disability presses tabled or boothed at AWP 2015. Which was ridiculous. Mr. S saw people at AWP 2015 with walking aides and wheelchairs, guide dogs, and personal assistants. Mr. S saw people signing.

Endowed with multiple sclerosis, Mr. S wondered how many other people there may have been at AWP 2015 with no obvious manifestations of disease or disability. And Mr. S wondered why there was only 1 disability-themed press present on the book fair floor.

Mr. S wondered why so many seemingly healthy people at one of the disability-themed panels kept asking questions about how to write good disabled characters.

When Mr. S returned home after the book fair with frustration in tow he wrote to the handful of disability-themed presses that he was already familiar with and implored them to participate in AWP 2016.

Emails were exchanged. Plans made. Campaigns run. And bam – the DLC was born (clean, no complications, healthy) and will indeed be present at AWP 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Selling books and handing out cards. Solidifying this brand.

Our presence will not immediately fix the marginalization problem. Many of our literary friends have simply stopped attending out of disgust and the generally apathetic response to calls for more uniform inclusion. And this isn’t just an AWP problem – oh no it’s far larger than one little lit. fair. This speaks to the sense of unease pervasive today in all corners.

So who, exactly, are we?


Breath & Shadow

In 2003, Sharon Wachsler was writing for abilitymaine, a socially progressive activist organization in Maine. Each time she wrote about various aspects of her/others disability, readers asked for more. So in 2004, Breath and Shadow was born. The idea was to start a journal of literature and culture written and edited exclusively by people with disabilities. And not just physical disabilities, but to feature writing by children and adults; people with physical, mental, emotional, and sensory disabilities; and new/emergent and established writers. We publish work by people without extensive formal education and those whose cognitive or emotional disabilities might spark nontraditional forms of expression. In short, we embrace a “disability aesthetic” — work that may or may not be about disability, but that is informed by the author’s experience of disability. Visit: http://www.abilitymaine.org/breath/



Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine is a literary journal
dedicated to promoting the theory and practice of Narrative Medicine,
an interdisciplinary field that enhances healthcare through the
effective communication and understanding between caregivers and
patients. The word intima itself has an anatomical reality: It is  the
infinitesimally thin layer lining a blood vessel, where the vehicle
and its cargo meet, speeding blood to the heart and brain, an apt
analogy for narrative as we define it. The name Intima has a specific
resonance in the field: Narrative Medicine defines itself as the
intimate interface between two people, one as healer, one as being
healed, who both yield and gain from the experience of the clinical
ncounter. Intima was created in 2010 by a group of graduate students
in the Master of Science program in Narrative Medicine  at Columbia
University; currently, the editorial board is made up of doctors,
nurses, writers, editors and philosophers, half of them affiliated
with the Columbia program. The first issue of Intima was Fall 2011;
two issues a year are produced, along with a weekly blog, called
Crossroads, essay contests, book reviews and events with Bowery Poetry
Center in New York City.  See Intima at http://www.theintima.org/.



Now an online journal, Kaleidoscope was the first magazine to creatively explore the experience of disability through the lens of literature and fine arts. When Kaleidoscope began publishing in 1979, disability was generally viewed and written about from a clinical, rehabilitative, or sociological perspective. Kaleidoscope publishes personal essays, creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and book reviews written by people who live with the experience of disability and chronic illness as well as those who are closely involved with and affected by these particular kinds of journeys ( i.e. parents, siblings, spouses, friends, educators, healthcare professionals). We accept work from writers with and without disabilities, but writers without disabilities must focus on some aspect of disability experience. Our visual artists are all individuals with disabilities.  The aims of Kaleidoscope include presenting effective, powerful writing and art to our readers that challenges and overcomes stereotypical, patronizing, and sentimental attitudes while educating and increasing awareness and demonstrating that any disability or chronic illness is just one part of a person’s identity.  Kaleidoscope publishes twice a year, in January and July. Visit: http://www.udsakron.org/kaleidoscope.aspx



Through art, photography, essays, stories, and poetry, Pentimento  asks its readers to see beyond disabilities and physical challenges. To see the ways in which we are all connected, and find in our pages a sense of the what the poet Emily Dickinson wrote: “I felt it shelter to speak to you.” The magazine cover features artwork by a child or young adult with a disability. Each issue includes a section devoted to writing by readers on a particular topic, fiction, nonfiction, photography, poetry, and art. Submissions may be by a individual with a disability or an individual who is part of the community such as a family member, therapist, educator, etc.  For more information, visit: www.pentimentomag.org



Wordgathering is an online quarterly journal of disability poetry, literature and art dedicated to providing a venue where the new work of writers with disabilities can be found and to building up a corpus of work for those interested in disability literature. While it gives preference to the work of writers with disability, it seeks the well-crafted work of any writer that makes a contribution to the field. It avoids “inspirational” work, tales of overcoming and work that evokes pity or perpetuates stereotypes. Wordgathering also reviews new books by writers with disabilities and offers interviews with those working in the field of disability literature and art.  The journal began in 2007 as an outgrowth of the work of the Inglis House Poetry Workshop for writers with disabilities. Visit: http://wordgathering.com/


3 thoughts on “About

  1. I am glad I found you. I’ve been living with Multiple Sclerosis for 30 years and now am a freelance writer and health advocate. I’m looking to spread my wings (hoping that somehow there’ll be more hours in a day!) to meet others in the disability community and spread more awareness and education about living with disability. Thank you for this site. I appreciate all you are doing.

    Cathy Chester
    Multiple Sclerosis News Today
    Mango Health

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cathy!

      Sean Mahoney here. Yeah I have the MS too…ain’t it grand? Now that you know the DLC origin story I feel super comfortable telling you that Mike Northen (who edits Wordgathering) – who runs the site with me – is actually at AWP in DC as I type this. I was ‘flu’d out of this years proceedings unfortunately. I swear I’ll be in Tampa next year…truly I swear.

      Let me ask you this: do you have a book of stories or poetry or articles that we could feature at our DLC booth next year? We’re always looking for authors to work with.

      So where are you located geographically? Do you still walk unaided or is their a device in your life? What about DMTs? Are you exploring stem cell options? What about diet?

      I’m glad you found us as well.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s