A Journal of Disability Poetry
This issue of Wordgathering has presented a special challenge for the editors. During our first year of publication, writers with disabilities came from a variety of perspectives many of which were from birth including cerebral palsy, spina bifida and bipolar conditions. In February of this year, MS Living included a small blurb about Wordgathering. As a result, we were inundated with work by writers with multiple sclerosis. This was a welcome reponse - but one that also presented its problems.
On the positive side, of course, it introduced many new readers to Wordgathering, and, even more importantly, sent many new writers our way. But it also presented some dilemmas. To begin with, it meant that we were forced to turn away a much greater proportion of the submissions that we received than previously. Sheer volume aside, there were two reasons for this. The first, as all editors know, is that many of the works tended to repeat the same themes, tropes or topics. With the finite number of themes, we look for those that present their work in original ways.
The second, and more philosophical problem, is that Wordgathering is primarily a literary journal with the mission of developing the genre of disability poetry and discourse around disability literature. The writers we tend to publish those who see themselves as artists first. As a result of the MS Living piece, however, many of the submissions that we received were less concerned with literary quality than with message. While many were indeed "heartfelt," they did not, in our opinion, have the literary quality necessary to include them. Writings whose major goals are inspirational or therapeutic certainly have their audiences, but they fall outside of the mission of Wordgathering.
Not withstanding this new - and welcome - challenge, this issue of Wordgathering spotlights poetry by writers with multiple sclerosis. We believe it presents a diversity of voices and views, including the writing of Gary Ronnie, Diane Scott Lewis, Anita Cohen, Richard Boughton, Sharon Rickman, Shannon Murray, Tanya Roycraft, Donna Jagodzinski, Wendy Natkong, Christine Parker, and Deborah Chenault-Green.
Our popular interview feature for this issue continues with talks to award-winning poet Barbara Crooker and Barefoot Muse editor, Anna Evans. Photographer Heather Kirk returns with a discussion of some work from her Bent Palm series. Our prose selections from June present the work of first time contributors Sally Martin, Tara Arlene Innmon and Ellen Williams.
Finally, our book reviews this issue turn to the work of writers with visual impairments - Behind Our Eyes, a new anthology of disability writing, and Kathi Wolfe's Helen Keller takes the Stage. Shedding further light on Wolfe's work is an essay on one of her poems by poet and critic Petra Kuppers. We also present a short excerpt from Kupper's upcoming book with Neil Marcus, Cripple Poetics.
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.
To all of our readers who contributed to this year's Inglis House Poetry Contest, we thank you for the overwhelming response in your submissions. The names and poems of the 2008 Contest Winners will be announced by the end of June.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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