Ten Anthologies of Disability Literature

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.




Ten Anthologies of Disability Literature

Presses The Publish Work by Disabled Writers

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 Eyehttp://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 Nerveswww.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/



Presses The Publish Work by Disabled Writers

Coming to Tampa

For the third year, the Disability Literature Consortium will be bringing books to the annual AWP (Associated Writers and Writing Programs) Conference.  This year it is in Tampa.  The Dis Lit Consortium is made up of journals who are dedicated to the publication of the work of writers with disabilities.  The includes Kaleidoscope, Breath and Shadow, Wordgathering, Deaf Poetry Society and Rogue Agent.

We have a double role at AWP.  The most obvious one is to make the published books of as many disabled writers as possible available for purchase by those who attend the conference.  By centralizing this work we make it a lot easier for those attending the conference to find a book that may be looking for and it is also a way of introducing potential readers to work in the same field of interest that they may not have known about.

We are also there to tell authors about the journals that we publish and to encourage them to submit work to the journals that may give them the best chance for publication.  This year we are also letting readers know about Zoeglossia, which is will be sponsoring its first two conferences for writers with disabilities.

Stop by and visit us.  We are at table T240.

Coming to Tampa

DLC Indiegogo / Generosity Campaign for AWP 2018 in Tampa


The campaign is live and waiting for you to drop some coin in the proverbial bucket. We haven’t done this in two years and i realize the timing couldn’t be worse coming in on the heals of some particularly nasty weather.

But we’re asking anyway. Go Here.

Please and thank you.

DLC Indiegogo / Generosity Campaign for AWP 2018 in Tampa

Come to Philalalia!

On Friday, September 15, the Disability Literature Consortium will be participating in Philalalia at Temple University.  Philalalia is an annual event for independent book book publishers and related artists.  The Dis Lit Consortium will be represented there by Michael Northen, editor of Wordgathering.  He will be there to talk with interested writers about journals that actively seek work from writers with disabilities like Breath and Shadow, Kaleidoscope, Deaf Poetry Society, Rogue Agent and Intima, as well as a few publishers such as Handtype Press and Nine Arches Press who focus on disability-related work.

Of course, we will also have books for sale representing the wide variety of literary genres that disabled writers work in.  Philalalia will be held at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia.  The Disability Literature Consortium will be participating on Friday from noon to 5:30.  We will be happy to talk with writers about getting their work published in our journals and to show you what the field of disability literary work has to offer.  Students taking a disability studies class or instructors teaching one, won’t find a more concentrated offering of work around. You can find out more about the vendors and events for Philalalalia at http://www.philalalia.com. You can also follow the the events on twitter.  If you are in the Philadelphia area, we hope you will come by and see us.




Come to Philalalia!

Wordgathering – September 2017

Howdy all. The new issue of Wordgathering is LIVE!

Poets appearing in this issue are a diverse group including Cheyenne Black, Katherine M. Clarke, Sarah Katz, Des Kenny, Lynda Lambert, Cali Linfor, Makamelee Manaka, Sergio Ortiz, Alyssa Radtke, Gerald Sarnet, and Nuala Watt.

Essays come from Timothy Allen, Tasha Chemel, John Lee Clark, Lorna McGinnis and Sean Toner.

New short stories by Kara Dorris, Chad MacDonald and Kelsey Young.

And much, much more. Book reviews, Reading Loop, and a new feature.

Wordgathering – September 2017


The Disability Literature Consortium is dedicated to the publication and dissemination of work by writers with disabilities.   Below is a description of the journals who take part in the consortium.  If you have been published in one of these journals take a look at one of the others.  While all of us are working together, we are each a bit different.


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 at http://www.udsakron.org/kaleidoscope/issues.aspx.


Breath and 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.   Breath and Shadow is a quarterly publication, with issues coming out on Jan 15, April 15, July 15 and Oct 15.  The website iswww.abilitymaine.org/breath, and the email is breathandshadow@gmail.com.



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 core 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. Wordgathering can be found at www.wordgathering.com. Email submissions to submissions@wordgathering.com.



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 philophers, 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/.


Deaf Poets Society

The Deaf Poets Society is an online journal that publishes poetry, prose, cross-genre work, reviews of disability-focused books and events, interviews/miscellany, and art by writers and artists with disabilities. Founded in 2016, the editors seek to highlight work that investigates the complexities of disability experience across identities, including (but not limited to) the intersections between disability and race, disability and gender, disability and sexuality, disability and class, disability and immigration, and so on. In this way, the overall goal of The Deaf Poets Society is to develop and deepen the conversation about disability as it affects people from different backgrounds. For more on our vision, check out our manifesto published earlier this summer in Drunken Boat, or read our first and second issues at www.deafpoetssociety.com.


Rogue Agent

If our bodies are oppressed by an outside force, we are “written over.” Rogue Agent wants to retaliate. Rogue Agent wants reconciliation. Rogue Agent wants to share your stories about the poem that is the body. We are an online literary journal devoted to poetry and artwork that investigates the experience of living in the body. We publish monthly, launching on the first of each month. The journal’s aesthetic uses the body as an anchoring point, but is open to a variety of interpretations, encouraging intersectionality. Past contributors have written about race, gender/sexuality, dis/ability, body image, motherhood, and more. We want to be surprised by your elegance and stunned by your forthrightness. We want to be impressed with your craft and your commitment. Check us out at rogueagentjournal.com.