Friday, August 31, 2018

More List Updates (Need Recommendations!)

It's becoming more difficult to draw the line on sites and publications I want people to know about, and the ones that fit with the blog.  I don't want just straight activism without a literary component.  But, what about disability/neurodivergence culture?  What about sites that aren't about writing, but want disabled/neurodivergent writers taking on our topics?  It's hard.

I'm also running out of new listings for inclusive publications.  Just because editors claim they're dedicated to diversity, doesn't mean they are.

If you have recommendations, please share!
Magazines, Websites, Etc. (for Us)

Cripple Magazine

Chronically Lit

DisABILITY & Romance (Open Facebook Group)

Explicit Literary Journal

Sins Invalid

Disability Visibility Project

Inclusive Mainstream Publications:  

Susan / The Journal

Cotton Xenomorph

Frontier Poetry

Removed:  The Binnacle (defunct), Geometry Literary (charges submission fee)

Friday, August 24, 2018

New Online Reading Series! (Tentative Start 9/2)

Update:   Sunday at 2PM U.S. East Coast time is now what's listed as the start.

Dov Zeller is starting a new reading series/salon for spoonies and those who have difficulty attending offline events!  I think our community could really benefit from things like this, and I've received updates directly from him as things progressed.

If you're interested, please get in contact with him via Twitter or fill out the survey below.  (I realize he mentions email as a way of contact, but I'm not listing his email address here because he hasn't cleared it.)

His email announcement follows:

Hi all,

I am writing because I am trying to start a "spoonie salon", a reading series and potentially some open mics and storytelling gatherings via video conferencing for spoonies and other people who struggle to attend offline events.

The first event is likely to be on Sept 2nd around noon East Coast U.S. time and as it will be tres experimental, I will likely be doing the reading and potentially another spoonie, a poet, will read as well. The gathering will happen via Zoom.

It would be wonderful if you could attend if you are able, whether you are a spoonie or no, because I would love feedback and support. That said, I am mainly sending this email in the hopes that you will share about the series (there is a tweet and a form linked below) with people you think might be interested in reading and/or attending.

All writers are welcome to contact me if they are interested in reading. I will soon have a more "official" submissions protocol, but for now, if people could just drop me an email and let me know a bit about their work, that would be great!

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope you are managing as well as can be.



Friday, August 17, 2018

An Ode to The Temple of the Golden Pavillion by Darrell Gilkes

As someone with Cerebral Palsy, I have always looked to literature for somewhat of an answer. In a society filled with archetypes of how disability should be portrayed, I have constantly yearned for literature that showed the honest side of disability. No, I'm not talking about those books which discuss "How I succeeded despite my disability." as the dimensions of "success" are entirely objective.

What I seek out is the struggle aspect: how do people find their identity within their own disability and how to they come to terms with it?

In my journey, I have found few pieces of literature that really tackle this issue, and those that do "cop-out" their answer to the most repetitive of concepts such as love, friendship, or hope. However, there is one book I found that showed a more honest version of disability: The Temple of the Golden Pavillion by Yukio Mishima.

The Temple of the Golden Pavillion highlights a man named Mizoguchi, a young man that has a stutter. Mizoguchi has an obsession with the concept of beauty and has a growing urge to destroy this beauty, in any way he can. Such an outburst can resonate with many who have physical disabilities since we cannot live up to society's standards of "beauty," often we try to reject the concept as a whole.

The most interesting part of the book however, is when Mizoguchi meets his friend Kashiwagi. Kashiwagi, too has a disability known as clubfeet. The intersectionality between the two disabilities allows for a different kind of dialogue regarding the concept of disability right from the moment they meet:

“His most striking characteristic was that he had two rather powerful-looking clubfeet…His walk was a sort of exaggerated dance, utterly lacking in anything commonplace…I was relieved at the sight of his deformity. From the outset his clubfeet signified agreement with the condition in which I found myself.”

Here we see the curious idea of two people understanding each other due to disability. Disability becomes a concept here that bonds two people together as opposed to something that separates people from the "normal" world. It's framed as a "them versus the world" idea for a good part of the novel as the two work together on tackling issues of beauty. Kashiwagi of course has his own ideas when it comes to being "beautiful," as instead of rejecting the idea he uses his disability as a way to manipulate those around him. He boasts in the fact that he can make women "fall in love with my clubfeet" and purposely falls in front of a girl as a way to get into her house (and an obvious attempt to get into bed with her).

It is then that Mizoguchi is disturbed by this sight and runs away. It's interesting to note that even though the two boys could understand each other due to disability, they both have vastly different ideas about how disability functions in their life, as well as how to properly use it in society. It shows that the identity of disability is not static and is interpreted entirely differently from person to person. On an ideological level, how one applies and reacts to their disability becomes an entirely subjective idea.

Curiously, Mizoguchi believes that disability is beautiful and draws parallels between the two, saying, "Cripples and lovely women are both tired of being looked at, they are weary of an existence that involves constantly being observed, they feel hemmed in; and they return the gaze by means of that very existence itself. The one who really looks is the one who wins."

The concept of disability and beauty are similar for the character because they are restricted to what they are by their identity. Mizoguchi doesn't taint his identity, because he believes his disability of stuttering to be part of the beauty of the world. As opposed to twisting it for more personal gains like Kashiwagi, he holds it firm as something that is to be beautiful.

The Temple of the Golden Pavillion provides an honest look into the lives of two boys, with two different disabilities that end up bonding together over similarities while also highlighting that what disability can mean to a person is dramatically different for each person. For anybody looking for a challenging text regarding disability identity and what it means, I would highly recommend this book.

Darrell Gilkes is a English and Special Education Teacher from Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. In his free time, he tutors students and has a deep passion for writing in the hopes that one day he might get his own book released. Darrell has been featured in Anthologies such as Seeing Beyond the Surface as well as The Book of Hope: 31 True Stories from Real People Who Didn't Give Up.  He enjoys writing about how it feels to have a disability and the different reactions or experiences one can have to it! You can contact Darrell at his LinkedIn or at darrell[dot]gilkes[at]

Friday, August 10, 2018

If You Give the Crips a (Writers') Conference

A bit oversimplified with a huge dash of optimism:

If you give the crips a conference, they'll feel like they belong.

If they feel like they belong, then they'll start to network.

If the cripples start to network, they'll pitch and submit more.

If they pitch and submit more, they'll publish more.

If they publish more, they'll want another conference.

Ableds say:  "Poor writers can't afford to attend conferences.  It's not a disability issue, it's a class issue."

Employed people with disabilities make around 33% less income than their able-bodied counterparts.  The unemployment rate for disabled people is almost twice that of their able-bodied peers.  Class and disability status are often linked.

Ableds say:  "A lot of writers don't attend conferences, and they are fine."

There is power in the knowledge you're welcome somewhere.  Even if a disabled person had the time and money, they still couldn't go due to the lack of accessibility.  It means we're forgettable, unimportant, or don't belong.

Ableds say:  "Accessibility costs money."

So?  Organizing a conference in general costs money!  Are people complaining that they're paying for food or presenters?  Most conferences are held in fairly large cities.  Cities mean a wider choice of venues.  More choice means accessibility can be considered, just like size or location are considered.  Accessibility isn't even on most organizers' radars!

"If you give the crips a conference, they'll feel like they belong."  It's not that easy, but it's a start.  We're waiting.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Segregation or Exclusion

Disabled/neurodivergent people are used to fighting.  We fight for our rights to marry without penalty, have children, pursue gainful employment-- things most people don't even have to think about, much less battle over.  Each concession we win has scratches on it from society's clutches.  But, regardless of what we try, sometimes changes come slowly or not at all.

Our writers are frequently (and easily) kept out of circles in the Literary Community.  The biggest conference in America is almost unapologetic in its inaccessibility until it comes time to take our money.  Our stories aren't wanted or considered with any sincerity until an abled person writes them.  Disabled/neurodivergent writers are often left with an unpleasant choice:  Do we face exclusion from literary circles or create pockets of opportunity for ourselves?

In creating opportunities, access is a given.  We don't have to worry about if we're understood.  We can enter and participate fully.  But, in beginning our own programs, we might segregate ourselves.  A lot of people in our community might not have the resources or contacts to start something quite as prestigious or beneficial as some of the organisations, workshops, readings, and so on already in existence.

Exclusion in its entirety is an option, though most of us find it unappealing.  The stereotype of the solitary writer is a persistent one, but it isn't romantic.  We need other people along the pathways of our careers to guide and cheer us on.*

So, between battles, we wait.  Some of us are writing haiku in groups.  Others are typing up their novels alone in their kitchens.  All are choosing where to be until the gates are pried apart.

Where are you?

*I've received no guidance from other writers beyond information in blog posts and craft books.  I've been a part of so many failed writing groups I now stay on the fringe of wherever I fall.  Isolation is difficult.  I don't want that for you, lovelies, not for a single heartbeat.  That's one reason this blog/organisation exists.  You aren't alone.  I love you.