A Journal of Disability Poetry

Volume 2     Issue 1     March 2008


We are excited to be beginning the second year of Wordgathering, a journal of disability-oriented poetry. When we put out our first issue last March, we stated, " In launching this journal, we hope to provide an opportunity for those whose talent in writing poetry converges with an interest in the growing field of disabilities literature." We have been fortunate over the past year to be able to offer the work of many poets of genuine talent, both old and new. We are especially proud of being able to review the recent work of poets with disabilities in our book review sections. As our audience of readers expands, however, we would like to reiterate our purpose in trying to develop the new field of disability literature.

One way of doing this in the current issue has to been to offer Michael Northen's essay, "A Short History of Disability Poetry." This piece gives readers and perspective contributors a sense of the context in which Wordgathering operates as well as introducing new readers to some of the seminal writers in the genre. In addition, under our essay section, we've also included a list of "Recommended Readings" that we hope will provide a jumping off point for those who would like to become acquainted with the work of some of these writers first hand.

A second way to reiterate our purpose is to clarify the kinds of poetry submissions that Wordgathering is and is not seeking. What we are not looking for is work whose primary purpose is "inspirational" or therapeutic. We seek instead the work of poets with disabilities or poets with a particular perspective on disability that they feel helps to make a contribution to disability literature as a genre.

Now - on to the contents of this month's journal. We return with the poetry of a number of the poets with whom the readers are familiar from previous issues including Linda Cronin, Anna Evans, John Thomas Clark, Kathleen Grieger and Patricia Wellingham-Jones. We are also happy to be able to present the work of Eric Gadzinski, Margaret Price, Kim Roberts and others for the first time in Wordgathering.

The journal interviews remain a popular feature and this issue offers two. The first is with poet/playwright, Trish Ayer discussing LUMPs, her popular play about breast cancer. A scene from the play is included in our excerpts section. The second interview features fiction writer Noria Jablonski. Jablonski discusses fiction writing and her collections of short stories, Human Oddities. A slice of one of her stories, "Pam Calls Her Mother on Five-Cent Sundays" is also included in the excerpt section.

We continue our tradition in book reviews with a look at a book with special appeal to visually impaired readers, David and Daniel Simpson's, just released Audio Chapbook. Finally, in addition to the essays mentioned above, this issue includes poet Kathi Wolfe's essay, "Finding My Muse: On Being a Queer, Crip Poet."

There are several of upcoming events that deserve special attention and that we would like to announce. The first is that it is time again for the annual Inglis House Poetry Contest for disability poetry. The contest, which is now in its sixth year, runs from April 1 to June 1, 2008. There is no entry fee. Details can be found on the Inglis House Poetry website.

Another exciting event is the Split This Rock Poetry Festival taking place March 20-23 in Washington, D.C. For readers of Wordgathering one of the most interesting sessions will be a panel called "Crip Poetry: A Culture of Disability, Justice and Art." It meets on Friday, March 21 from 11:30 AM-1 PM, and includes several writers who have been featured in Wordgathering, including Petra Kuppers, Kathi Wolfe and Stephen Kuusisto. The larger festival will celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent of change, reaching across differences, considering personal and political responsibility, asserting the centrality of the right to free speech, bearing witness to the diversity and complexity of the human experience through language, imagining a better world. Gay and lesbian poets, straight poets, African-American poets, Asian, white and Native poets, Latino poets, young and old poets, poets of all social classes, and poets with disabilities will be among those featured. Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds, Mark Doty and Stephen Kuusisto will be among the poets featured. For more info, go to the Split This Rock website.

Finally, we would like to note that two artists featured in the December issue of Wordgathering will have their work on display during March. Computer artist Dana Hirsch's work will be part of a larger exhibit of the work of disability artists in the opening of the Inglis Art Gallery in Philadelphia on March 8. The photographic art of Elijah Northen will be available on his new website Obscuritas as well as in venues in Baltimore during March. The work of both artists generated a good deal of interest in the last issue.

At the current time Wordgathering is accepting poetry for future issues. We are also accepting a very limited number of literary essays and poetry books for review. Writers interesting in submitting work to Wordgathering should look at our submissions guidelines.

As always, we welcome your comments about Wordgathering and the work that you see here. Your input helps us to know how effective we have been and which writers you would like to hear from again. Wordgathering is a quarterly publication. If you are interested in being notified when the next issue comes out or would like to send us your comments, please write to us at comments@wordgathering.com.

Return to Top

This site is maintained by Michael Northen.                © 2007 by Wordgathering