Friday, December 27, 2019

Healing Myself by Venetia Sjogren (a Poem)

there was no need to wave wands
conjure spells or mix magic potions
I did not languish lupine under pale, full moons
nor speak in mystical tongues
no depressants were dispensed
late night drinking, crying and life-bashing
with friends, was avoided
I did not vacillate between telephoning doctors
and damning them to perdition
nor did I spend nights oscillating between a false bravado
and Ophelia-like vapors
I simply stopped
hating my broken body
with its plaque-laden nerves
one breath
one memory
one cell
at a time
and began
to love
Biography:  Venetia Sjogren is disabled grandmother, who lives with multiple sclerosis and end stage kidney disease, an Afro-Latina and humanist. Her brother was born deaf and her niece has cerebral palsy thus she is acutely aware of the challenges of being (dis)abled. She reads rather indiscriminately as her books range from Sci-Fi to Anthropology. She dislikes bigots, peas, anything hazelnut and okra. I know, I know - she is a flipping screwball.  Her publication credits include Poets Against the War and Howard University’s, The Amistad.

Friday, December 13, 2019

A Hostile Take-over by Venetia Sjogren (a Poem)

I have heard it said that love starts with one's self
my conundrum—what happens when even the most basic
component of one's body commences
a revolution
causing pain, blindness, confusion and paralysis
when bastard neurons hijack all the other better parts
causing mayhem, discontent and disorder
I tell you—it is bad enough to lose beauty, youth and grace,
as one ages
bad enough to lose family, friends and lovers
to accidents and other misfortunes
but when the body attempts its hostile take-over
when your bathroom has become a miniature pharmacopoeia
when neurons mis-fire like an epileptic, drunk
whilst doing ballet around an oak tree,
daubed in blue and howling at the moon, simultaneously
it becomes a battle I tire of fighting
one that I have decided to concede
let the neurons have their vainglorious victory
let them have the spoils—
my broken body
Biography:  Venetia Sjogren is disabled grandmother, who lives with multiple sclerosis and end stage kidney disease, an Afro-Latina and humanist. Her brother was born deaf and her niece has cerebral palsy thus she is acutely aware of the challenges of being (dis)abled. She reads rather indiscriminately as her books range from Sci-Fi to Anthropology. She dislikes bigots, peas, anything hazelnut and okra. I know, I know - she is a flipping screwball.  Her publication credits include Poets Against the War and Howard University’s, The Amistad.

Friday, December 6, 2019

4 Favorites from Breath & Shadow Fall 2019

Note:  You can click on each title to go.  Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I had a poem published in this magazine years ago.

The fall 2019 edition of Breath & Shadow is another great issue. There was a grandmother phoenix, a relationship brought to its knees by religion, a broken spice bottle as a symbol of something bigger, and more.  You should check it out, if you haven't already.

In no particular order, my four favorite pieces from the issue:

1.  "Drown" by Elizabeth Devine
This short poem is gorgeous... and dark.  It takes on what toxic relationships or the world can demand of us (just my interpretation).  Each image is crisp.

2. Content Warning:  Drug use/Overdose/Suicide
"The Ghosts Who Carry Us" by Elizabeth Devine
A sad and difficult prose piece on addiction, who we lose, and how we carry on.

3.  "You Ask Me Why I Wear Bright Colors" by Jennifer Bradpiece
A poem on the colors associated with different aspects of (chronic) pain.  The end of the poem has quite an impact.

4.  "Masquerading Stranger" by Karen Craig
Multiple sclerosis (referred to as Ms) stalks the narrator.  The personification of the disease and prescribed medications added a nice, compelling tension to the story.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Article in The Philadelphia Inquirer

*Please don't harass the author of the article.  I realize she may need education in matters of the cripverse, but she's just doing her job in a society that fed her the same inspo-shit we grew up on. 

"These businesses are taking special-needs employees from Disability to ThisAbility, one hire at a time" the title says in black across the page of a Philadelphia periodical.  I'm already rolling my eyes before I even read the rest (click here for the article).  The term "special-needs" needs to have a gruesome, unmourned death.  And I love the implication of employment erasing our disabilities, as though working makes us "normal".

"Employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities are having a moment," boldly proclaims the first line of the piece.  Why are they having a moment?  Because they're finally starting to be hired by companies!  Wow, what a moment!  I'm so glad the glorious, sparkly spotlight of arrival was being treated like every other fucking person on the planet.  We have reached our zenith, fellow cripples, we're getting scraps of attention and treatment slightly on par with the ableds.  Hallelujah.

The article then has four snapshots of employees at different businesses with quick descriptions.  After the photos, it says:  "I could name the 'conditions' of these men and women, but that would be antithesis to what the hiring wave is about for a new brand of progressive employers..."  No, it wouldn't be "antithesis" because what you're hawking is that these companies are so incredible for taking a chance on this previously-unhired minority with all their overlooked skills and prominent drawbacks.  You might as well put the third ring on the circus and name their spooky "other".  Note:  Near the bottom of the article there is another photo with the caption, "Tom Byrne, who is on the autism spectrum, is known to be a friendly and well-liked greeter/attendant at Eagles games played at Lincoln Financial Field."

"They’ve learned that these employees don’t bring disability to the workplace."  Yes, they do.  This sentence is disingenuous.  Our bosses often don't want to legally accommodate us, so telling people that gimps are "normal" at their jobs is harmful to us.  Plus, this feeds the "overcoming" narrative which causes many disabled people harm because we injure ourselves and our mental health trying to be "better" than our disabilities or neurodivergences.

"They bring this-ability — a unique set of talents and gifts — the way all individuals do, while enriching a company’s bottom line — and making fans of their bosses..."  If it's truly the way "all individuals do", why the inspoporn slant of the article?  Why are we worshipping at the feet of the saintly employers if we possess what others do?  Hmmm...

"The knee-jerk discrimination they experience is as wrong as any that’s based on race or gender."  Isn't it sad that someone still thinks this needs saying in 2019?  Then again, it could...

"My hope is that business leaders who read this special section will sign on to strengthen the momentum — one inspired hire at time." Why would the hires be inspiring?  Oh, right... cripples.  We're really appealing to feel-good ableists to persuade them to hire disabled and/or neurodivergent people.  But, I thought we had things every other employee has!
Other notes:  
Autism Speaks was mentioned for creating jobs for neurodivergent people.
The word "special" appears four times in this article.
The journalist mentions "neurodivergent" in regards to everyone with a developmental or intellectual disability and, while I'm not an expert, I believe this is false.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Endeavors and Media Coverage

There is a huge difference between how able-bodied people who start an organization or program for disabled people are covered in media, and how cripples are covered for starting something similar for our community.  Ableds are seen as our selfless saviors, bringing culture/comfort/access to the pitiful "other".  Our start-ups get significantly less coverage... unless it's inspoporn.

Since our community gets less media attention (and a more skewed focus) when our own projects come to light, it can impact our chances to secure funding.  Newspaper articles can be a great way draw the attention of potential donors, especially on a local level.  Plus, disabled people might not know about opportunities available to them because of the lack of reporting.

The amount of gimp-led organizations and projects scraping by on small, crowd-funded efforts versus able-bodied ones getting large grants and corporate donations is huge.  Announcements of funding and partnerships abound!  Of course,  ableists will say we're too ignorant or lazy to properly get funded, but people who aren't bigots see a different story.

How our financial needs or efforts are narrated varies, too.  Eight different articles for able-bodied ventures (since January) have entire paragraphs on funding assistance!  Every one but two I've seen for our community mentioned it in the last line of the piece (if at all).  Maybe different periodicals have different policies on money.  Maybe a lot of the projects started by us already have all the backing they need... doubtful.
I'm not saying programs and things started by able-bodied people for our community don't help us or deserve the money and promotion they need to thrive, but the difference in the amount of coverage, the slant of the articles, and the disparity in attention to our financial needs is all bullshit.  An endeavor isn't less worthy because it's run by a wheelchair-user.  Journalists need to stop acting like it.

Friday, November 8, 2019

D&ND Creatives List

The words "Disabled & Neurodivergent Creatives" are written in blue in the middle of a white background. There is one blue paint splotch above the words in the middle, and two on the bottom of the words on each side. In the top right-hand corner, there is a small brown paintbrush with a swipe of blue paint dotting the i in "creatives". 
The list is here!  It's finally happening!  Introducing The Disabled & Neurodivergent Creatives List (click here for link).

For the last year, I tried to figure out how to create a list for disabled and/or neurodivergent artists.  I didn't want to do a disservice to our community by shoehorning it in a small tab on this space.  The thought of having it totally disconnected from The Handy, Uncapped Pen wasn't something I relished.  So, I just let the idea sit.  But, nothing ever happens if it stays a mere idea, so I decided to go for it.
Each creator will have a post with their name, types of art/creativity worked in, links to their social media, links to their work, etc.  After the post is made, the artist will be added to the page at the top.  Artists will be added to the page in alphabetical order by last name.

Want more information (including how to submit)?  We have a FAQ (click here).  The first post on the blog also gives the submission procedure.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Cripple Rants: The Cripless Sims

Notes: Video game design is an art form. There is swearing.

The Sims is as a series started on computer in the year 2000. It's almost 20 years old. Millions of people around the world enjoy bringing characters of their own creation to life. But, it falls horrifyingly short for the world's largest minority. 

I am an avid Sims player. I've made people of all ages, colors, genders, etc. I've had white, cis characters climb the career ladder and I've had badass Asian, trans folx find love. There are vampires, witches, ghosts, and aliens in my neighborhoods. However, there are no disabled people. What the fuck?

Of course, they offered an extremely problematic take on mental illness at one point. You could have a Sim (character) that had an "insane trait" which had a straitjacket as an icon. After some pushback, the developers relabeled this "erratic". It's as close as we've ever gotten to representation of disabled, mentally ill, or neurodivergent Sims. 

Some people will say to me, "Everyone in The Sims is the same height, so short or tall people aren't represented. There are no nonbinary Sims." and this is true. To say gimps need representation in The Sims isn't saying other people don't deserve to be represented. It's just... shitty that so many of us can't create people like us in a game with the selling point of making who you want. Why is a purple alien more possible to them than my crippled ass?

Just like in real life, I notice a lot of the public buildings my Sims visit aren't wheelchair accessible. Will the developers have to alter too many buildings? Can they not figure out the physics of a rollator? Is it too hard to program a guide dog? My witch can clone herself, but God forbid she have crutches or need regular appointments with her psychiatrist. 

Not every game needs to exactly reflect our society. But, a simulation game proclaiming we can make the world we want to see leaving us out entirely is a huge oversight. The only other possibility I can think of is the developers are positive no one wants to see cripples in a "perfect world".

Friday, October 18, 2019

Grants and Fellowships (Some Charge Fees)

1.  Australian citizens who live in Australia:
"Arts Access Australia’s new National Leadership Award will recognise and support new and emerging leaders in the arts and disability sector."  One disabled artist (or arts-worker) will receive $10,000 to cover expenses for professional/leadership development.  Find out more by clicking here.  I can't find an application fee requirement.  The deadline is November 4th.

2.  "Launched in April 2017, Awesome Disability is an independent chapter of the Awesome Foundation, a global community that provides micro-grants with no strings attached."  Applications accepted between the first and fifteenth of every month.  Selected groups and individuals with awesome projects can receive $1,000.  No fee to apply.  Click here for the website.  The grant can't be used for utilities, home repairs, rent, etc.

3.  Fellowship for nonfiction writers writing about mental illness (requires a $35 application fee):
"The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow is offering a fellowship to a writer working on a short or long work of non-fiction focusing on how they (the writer or another) have managed, and continue to manage, their mental illness."  The deadline for 2019 was September 30th, but they plan on bringing it back next year.  Meals and a two-week stay are covered, but it doesn't seem like travel is included (the colony is in Arkansas). Click here for more information.

4.  Application fee (may be waived due to financial hardship):
MacDowell Colony Fellowships are open to artists in many disciplines.  They offer stipends and travel grants to fellows who have financial need.  It's one of the few colonies accessible for artists with physical disabilities.  The next application deadline is January 15th.  The link to their application page is here.

5.  Chicago artists:
3Arts Residency Fellowships "are accessible and open to artists in dance, music, teaching arts, theater, and visual arts."  Any out-of-town residencies for disabled artists will support housing and travel for personal assistants.  Their fellowship recipients were already announced, so check back next year.  They list fellowships for various places locally and abroad.  I'm not sure if there are fees.  Find out more here.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Moving Too Slow

I once read somewhere that a poet will have diminished success if their full-length collection debuts after they turn thirty-five.  I'm thirty-four with a February birthday and hear clocks ticking behind me every few weeks.  The illogical voice in my head whispers:  What if it's over before it's begun?

I know averages can't predict individual outcomes.  Everyone has unique circumstances that defy easy calculation.  Is the "disabled poet average" different than the abled one?  Is the specific age only important to poets with college degrees?

I might be an outlier but, if the majority of poets fall into a certain section, the odds are I will, too.  It's disheartening.  Numbers don't care if you're self-taught because no one could help you.  Judges don't care if you lost years of creativity to illnesses and brain fog.

In the article I read, no one mentioned just how hard of a hit poets take if they don't squeeze out a book before thirty-five.  Is it something that can be offset by another characteristic?  Can starting later actually be a boon no one bothers to leverage or consider?  Is our society's obsession with youth clouding our perceptions?

As a disabled person, I often feel like I'm arriving late to my own life.  There are moments I'll never have that leave an ache inside me.  No one receives everything they want in life, but I'd settle for half instead of a fifth.  I don't want to contemplate what my late entrance as a poet might mean to my career.  Perhaps, it will mean nothing.  All I can do is create... and hope.

Do you ever feel like you're moving too slow?

Friday, September 27, 2019

Facebook Group for Disabled/Neurodivergent Poets

Yes, I know there is already a Facebook group for disabled poets and writers, but I'm thinking of creating a private group specifically for poets to get feedback on pieces and talk shop.  It would be like a cross between an MFA-type workshop (sans crying and one-upmanship) and a conversation with knowledgeable friends.  I think it would be useful, but others might not agree.

Is it something poets might be interested in?  Let me know!
Twitter:  @HandUnPen
You can also comment below.
Questions you might have:

1.  Why not a public group?
If poets post their work on a public forum, it's considered published.  Most literary magazines won't touch previously published work.

2.  Why poetry (and only poetry)?
I often see poetry shoved to the margins in craft books/blogs, writing magazines, and other resources.  Free classes in creative writing exist in abundance, but few of them are classes on poetry composition.  Plus, I am a poet.

3.  Why not a poetry group for everyone?
Disabled and neurodivergent poets are often silenced.  Our subject matter is frequently deemed "uncomfortable" or something our peers can't connect with.  I want a group where we don't have to stifle ourselves for the ableists' comfort.

4.  Do shared poems only have to be about disability/neurodivergence?
No, but there might be some topics that are off-limits or require a trigger warning.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Detective Pikachu's Villain (Major Spoilers)

Ah, Ryme City:  A beautiful place where people partner with Pokémon to create a utopia for all beings.  The city is the idea of Howard Clifford, CEO of a huge corporation and creator of advanced hologram technology.  Mr. Clifford has a degenerative disease and uses a wheelchair because of it.

But, someone has nefarious plans for the people and Pokémon of our lovely haven.  Who would destroy something so amazing?  Howard Clifford, of course!  Why?  Because human minds taking over Pokémon bodies is the next step in evolution.  He has found a cure for human frailty.  He has found a cure for his disease.
Howard wants a cure with such intensity, he's willing to destroy everything (even his relationship with his son).  We don't know how long he's had his disease, how it impacts him (besides the wheelchair), how old he is, or what his prognosis is.  Without more information, all we get from the screenwriters is some variation of "disability bad, must fix".  I'm honestly tired of seeing a "cure" as one of the only outcomes a disabled character could desire.

Howard is rich.  He has a whole city designed by him, a team of scientists under his command, technology most folks only dream of, and people who adore him.  He spent so much money, his scientists discovered a way to merge humans into Pokémon (that couldn't be cheap).  Was it truly easier than them finding a pill to slow the disease or an injection to reverse it?  I have doubts.

If Howard wanted to heal, why drag everyone else into his scheme?  He didn't just try to transform the disabled, the elderly, or the dying into Pokémon... his plan included everyone.  The vague mention of "evolving" isn't an answer I accept.  Maybe he could control people if they were Pokémon because he transferred his mind into the greatest Pokémon ever (Mewtwo).  But, world domination is an entirely different motive.

Was he a good person before he wound up in a wheelchair?  The movie doesn't say.  Maybe Howard was a bastard his entire adult life (his son is a good person, so maybe the mom raised him).  The only thing we really know is that he's absolutely desperate for a cure, so I would think it's the disease driving him to unscrupulous acts.  Disability made him into someone else... an evil someone else.
The game the movie is based on has a different antagonist.  Howard Clifford could merely be a poor attempt to subvert the audience's expectations.  However, with Hollywood only giving out a few worn-out tropes to cripples, we can't say the bitter, desperate-not-to-be-a-gimp villain was a genuine surprise.  At least the Pokémon were cute.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Interview with F.I. Goldhaber

How did you start writing?

When I was a child. I voraciously consumed stories and poems even before I learned to read. I told tales—both invented and realto whoever would listen (or just myself) as soon I discovered how to talk. When I learned how to form letters, I wrote them down.

Throughout my school years, I always carried a notebook and pen with me so I could scribble down poems. From fifth grade, I wanted to be a writer. When I started looking at career options, I chose journalism specifically because I could get paid to write.

You wear many hats (poet, journalist, editor, etc.).  Which role do you like best and why?

I enjoy writing and telling stories. Everything else I do as part of the process of getting words and stories to readers.

You publish the majority of your work as an indie.  When did you start going that route and what draws you to it?

How do you define "majority"? Much of my work (including the bulk of my fiction which I write under pseudonyms) appeared in print, audio, and/or electronic publications before I published it myself. My first three (and fifth) novels (transgressive and erotic fiction) were published by traditional small presses.

I started putting my backlist of short stories, many of which had only appeared in print, up for sale in 2011 as individual ebooks. Then I collected four to seven stories with a common theme into print books.

I was never happy with the covers of my first three novels and I still had to do most of the marketing myself. So in '11, I also invoked the clauses in those three contracts that allowed me to take my rights back and republished them myself with better covers (and better sales).

Of my five poetry collections still in print, only one was published by someone else first, but more than half (or more) of the poems in each collection appeared in other publications first.

I identify as a hybrid author, finding the best way to get my words to readers whether it's a small press, a big publisher, or indie publishing the work myself.

You do a fair amount of public speaking.  Do you have any tips for writers who want to improve their performances/presentations?

Rehearse. Repeatedly. In front of a camera if you have that option, so you can watch yourself and learn where you can improve. The more comfortable you are with what you have to say, the more confident you are in your presentation, the more relaxed you will be and the better your program will be received.

Beyond that, every speaking opportunity has different audiences and desired outcomes. Are you speaking to a group of teens or a group of seniors; business people or fellow writers? Are you looking to entice people into buying your book? Or are you trying to teach them something? Or do you want to inspire them to become politically active? Each audience and each goal requires a different approach.

How often do you collaborate with your spouse on a book?  How do you decide who tackles what aspect of a project?

We collaborate on almost everything, but not always to the extent that we include the others' name on our work. For example, because of my marketing background I edit a lot of the promotional copy for his YouTube channel. In turn I rely on his military background whenever I write a battle scene or a fight.

When we each contribute enough to a story to put both of our names on it, the name which appears first is where the story started. So, "Watching the Door" which won Third Place in the 2016 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award is by Joel and F.I. Goldhaber but "Hit & Run" is by F.I. and Joel Goldhaber.

In addition, Joel designs many of my book covers, including my poetry collections, all the Goldhaber indie published short fiction, and the more recent pseudonymous novels.

It should be noted, that I was born a Goldhaber. My spouse took my name when we married.

Have you ever encountered ableism or other prejudice in the publishing industry?  If so, how did you handle it?

Most of the work I did as a writer in settings outside my home (reporting/editing for newspapers, marketing communications for business, etc.) was before any of my disabilities (resulting from injury and age) occurred. When you write at your own workstationcarefully constructed to meet your abilities/needsand most of your contact with others in the publishing industry is via phone and email, your disabilities are mostly invisible.

My disabilities do prevent me from traveling, and that has cost me some opportunities. But, within the local community I have found no hesitation to accommodate my needs at readings and other speaking engagements.

What is/was the biggest obstacle in your writing career?  How do/did you work around it?

Gender. I started at a time when others identified me as female and very few women were able to break out of newspaper lifestyle sections. More than once, a job I applied for went to a less qualified male.

I used my initials to disguise my gender, which helped with readers. (One woman in West Virginia called the paper asking for Mr. Goldhaber and when I assured her that I had written the article in question, she told me that I wrote like a man. And meant it as a compliment.) But, it didn't change the prejudices in the newsrooms.
Biography: F.I. Goldhaber's words capture people, places, and politics with a photographer's eye and a poet's soul. As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, they produced news stories, feature articles, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now paper, electronic, and audio magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, and street signs display their poetry, fiction, and essays. More than 100 of their poems appear in sixty plus publications, including four collections.

Friday, August 30, 2019

White Cane Evolution by Carol Farnsworth

We have a love\hate relationship with our white canes.  When first given a cane to use, we reject it.  Usually, we get into a situation where we find that is better to use the cane.

My incident came at a fast food restaurant.  I was eating lunch with my family.  During the meal, I got up to use the restroom.  I bumped into several tables on the way to the wall where I felt my way to the restroom.  I repeated the feeling and table-bumping until I was back at my own table.  When we were ready to leave, I unfurled my folding cane with several loud clicks.  As we were exiting the restaurant, I heard one of the employees remark,"I thought she was drunk!"  To be seen as drunk or blind, I would rather be blind.

Eventually, my orientation and mobility instructor convinced me that I would be safer with the white cane.  I was a novice working the cane.  When with my sighted guide, I would hold the cane in a defensive position.  If I became nervous, I would swing the cane wildly in front of us, people would part like the Red Sea in front of Moses.  I believe that they were worried about being struck by my wild antics with the cane.

With time, I learned the two techniques of bouncing the end from side-to-side or dragging the end of the cane from right to left.  Both cane movements were coordinated with walking.

When we traveled to Scotland, I had good cane use but the novelty of a white cane user convinced the pedestrians to give us a wide berth, some people were so intent to get out of our way they jumped into doorways or off the curb.

As I gained confidence and training in cane use I never left home without it.  Even with a sighted guide, I still hold my white cane at the ready.

When walking with my daughter, I was using my cane and talking to her. Unknown to me, she veered us directly towards four young men walking in a line. She stopped the end man and asked,”Don’t you see this lady is blind? She will not get out of your way!”. He mumbled a “Sorry?”. I quizzed her about the incident and she replied that they needed a lesson about others in their environment.

I have made peace with using my white cane and never leave home without one. People still want to help me cross streets or grab my elbow to propel me forward because they see the white cane, not me. With patience, I explain what I can and can not do. By interacting, I help people see the person behind the cane.
Biography (in first person):  I was born with glaucoma but have become totally blind in the last four years. I have a teaching degree in regular and special education and a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology. I worked with mentally disabled adults (many were nonverbal). I learned to use many techniques to elicit communication.

Similarly, I will use many tools to deal with blindness. I will use braille, voice over, and Seri to assist me with writing.

Other interests include gardening, listening to audio books, and riding a tandem bike, which my husband John and I have been doing for 22 years.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Cry To Heaven by Jamztoma

Cry to heaven
Unloved and unwanted
Roaming the Earth
Lost and cursed
Man-child so weak
Nature's freak
So they say

Depression you got me falling, falling
And I am sobbing, sobbing
When will my troubles end?

Cry to heaven
Lonely forbidden
Underdog forsaken
an Adam-descent
non paradise-sent
unfortunate, hell-bent
So they say

Depression you got me falling, falling
And I'm sobbing, sobbing
When will I surrender to death?
Biography:  Jamztoma is a published poet residing in Silver Spring, Maryland.  He has a disability that he does not want to disclose at this time.  He has two poetry collections now being sold at Amazon, The PASEFIKA Beat (2013) and Lyrical Mysteries (2015).  "Cry to Heaven" that is featured on here was previously published in Lyrical Mysteries.  You can order it from Amazon via this link:

Friday, August 16, 2019

Giveaway: The Pretty One by Keah Brown

Image:  A black woman in a grey sweater is laughing with her eyes closed.  She has black, straight hair and black-rimmed glasses.  She looks to be outside.  Above her, there is a pink rectangle with the name "Keah Brown" in white capital letters. Below her, a yellow rectangle says "On life, pop culture, disability, and other reasons to fall in love with me".  In big, white text across her body, it says "The Pretty One".
We are giving away a copy of The Pretty One by Keah Brown (click here to see the book on Amazon).  This giveaway is open from today (August 16th) to September 20th. 


1.  Open to anyone in the world.  If the winner is outside of the 48 contiguous United States, they will receive the Kindle edition.  If the winner resides in one of the 48 states, they will have the option of Kindle edition or paperback.

2.  People may enter by leaving a comment on this post, emailing us at or getting in touch with us on Twitter @HandUnPen.  Please make it clear what you are contacting us for.

3.  Only one entry per person.  

4.  Drawing will be random, and the winner will be notified on September 21st (by 11:59 PM CST) via the method they entered with.  So, if the person who won entered via email, they will receive an email... and so on.

5.  No substitutions.  Void where prohibited.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Call for Submissions: Red Mare Chapbook Series

Image:  A block print of a red horse looking behind itself.

The Red Mare Chapbook Series is open for submissions of eco-feminist poetry manuscripts of ten-to-thirteen pages.  Poets can be any gender.  Before submitting your chapbook, you must send a sample stanza to Red Mare's publisher/editor Su Zi via Twitter DM (@xsuzi00).  There is no fee to submit.

Red Mare is sold through Su Zi's Etsy store (click here for link).  Each chapbook is hand-sewn with gorgeous, block-print covers.  The print runs are small with no reprints.

Make sure to ask her any questions you have prior to submitting.  If you want a bit of insight to Su Zi as an artist, she has an interview you can read.

Jennifer's note:  A lot of people publish with small presses and don't even attempt to promote.  Su Zi, like many of us, only has so much energy to spare.  Please, if she accepts your amazing work, at least try to get the word out.  You'd be surprised how many poets abandon projects once they're in the world.  

Friday, August 9, 2019

Poem by F.I. Goldhaber

Trigger warning:  Brief mention of suicide


You're told NormalPeople don’t hallucinate;
don’t analyze suicide methods to minimize pain, ensure success.

You're told NormalPeople don’t think twenty things
at once, their thoughts racing from idea to idea to idea.

You can explain how you got from A to two
hundred three. You're told NormalPeople don’t process information this way.

You're told NormalPeople sleep through the night. Their
minds don’t obsessively weave inextricable webs which keep them awake.

You're told NormalPeople don’t have days when just
getting out of bed to confront the world becomes a major achievement.

When NormalPeople explain this, how do you
react? Do you want to settle for normal or flee to your mind's refuge?
Biography: F.I. Goldhaber's words capture people, places, and politics with a photographer's eye and a poet's soul. As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, they produced news stories, feature articles, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now paper, electronic, and audio magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, and street signs display their poetry, fiction, and essays. More than 100 of their poems appear in sixty plus publications, including four collections.

Friday, August 2, 2019

2019 Mentees!

Grace Quantock will be mentored by S. Baer Lederman.

Amy Hsieh was chosen by Drew Cook.

Pamela Hope will be mentored by Carey Link.

Amy Barrett was chosen by Sarah Krenicki.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Poem by Gregory Luce

Trigger warning:  Institutionalized abuse

Not Again

Don’t shock me again
I’ll smile and eat
the rubber meat
covered in
congealing red
sauce I’ll put on
a clean shirt
if someone brings me
one just don’t turn on
that machine and put
the needle away
Biography:  Gregory Luce, author of Signs of Small Grace (Pudding House Publications), Drinking Weather (Finishing Line Press), Memory and Desire (Sweatshoppe Publications), and Tile (Finishing Line Press), has published widely in print and online. He is the 2014 Larry Neal Award winner for adult poetry, given by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He is retired from National Geographic, works as a volunteer writing tutor/mentor for 826DC, and lives in Arlington, VA.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Interview with Su Zi (Poet, Artist, and Editor)

Description:  A woman with long, purple hair sits on a blue power scooter with crossed legs. She is wearing sunglasses, a gold jacket, and matching headwear.  She is holding a cigarette in her right hand.  There is a bunch of greenery on her left.
1. What does eco-feminism mean to you, and how does it influence your writing?

Eco-feminism is an academic term for what is also called Gaia Theory (a term elaborated on to book-length by a number of people, including a nice SciComm book by Lovelock): to wit, the planet, our beloved planet, is a living entity of herself. Thus, our behavior is in relationship with the Earth.

Eco-feminism describes our intellectual activities as part of our relationship with Gaia/Mother Earth.

Since I edit and create artist books of poetry by different authors, I look to their writing to see if it acknowledges, at least, or speaks to (or of) that relationship.

In my own work, it always has been about that relationship—overtly, or as an intrinsic underlying aspect of the thesis.

2. Why did you start the Red Mare Chapbook series? Why choose Etsy as a way to distribute the books?

I began Red Mare when Marie C. Jones sent me a manuscript to read that had been rejected—but it was dynamic and beautiful. I told her I would publish it: this turned out to be Red Mare one, but I didn’t begin numbering them until the second book. I had been making little books for years, and still do.

I am no marketing sensation, and since Red Mare is very much handmade (the bindings are handsewn, each one at a time), and since I make other art as well, it seemed logical to include Red Mare in my Etsy shop. Still now, it’s the only online purchase point for Red Mare. It’s not feasible to consign them—although I tried a few times— because the books are a tactile experience, they are really works of art—block prints sewn to poems—and don’t bear up well to the casual, multiple handlings some bookstores felt was okay... judging by the ruined copies that were blithely flung back at me when I stopped back in to inquire. I get that bookstores are businesses first, but...

So, as I am able (a big conundrum there) I have tried to attend small press events, so people can see the books in person. It’s surprising how uniform small press books have become, and what an accepted norm that had become.

3. What are all the types of art you create and which do you enjoy most?

I am a poet, painter, book creator, fiber artist, pottery-making, gardening, bird-watching writer [and] literature devotee.

It’s difficult losing spoons over time, because it keeps you from doing what you love.

4. On the subject of losing spoons: Do you have any tips for writers/artists with limited energy or chronic pain who still want to create?

Yes. You can: Find shorter forms you like, for when you cannot push your endurance. Use writing prompts you like. Keep parts of your week planner unscheduled, in case you are able to read or write. Try changing your writing stylus and tabla—a crayon on big paper is useful for everyone to play with, or big markers for when it’s a day of just a word or fragment. I have done all, at one time or another. Perhaps this will help.

5. Who are your literary influences?

Well, that’s a tough question, because I read as much as my damaged eyes will allow, and there’s the joy of a phrase previously unheard that stays in the mind, and teaches and influences. However, I ought to give credit to my Mother reading me Poe for bedtime stories when I was too young to read. Also, her own wide-ranging reading habits when presenting literature to me as a child. By the time I was a teen, I read voraciously and there was no household censorship: I read Genet at 16, Woolfe and Wolfe and a wide array of modern literature. I suspect that such early exposure was influential—later in life, I was first surprised that other people hadn’t done the same... until I became saddened to realize that it was odd or unusual.

6. Why do some people consider you a "controversial artist"? How do you feel about the label?

I had to think about this one awhile. On one hand, my experiences being called/treated as controversial/taboo were very painful emotionally. On the other hand, it’s stultifying to try to please people—and I have erred there too often. Of late, it dawns on me that my very existence is controversial—an educated female with no discernible cultural/ethnic group (not obviously Caucasian, not obvious of any other group), obviously physically impaired but not discernibly how, not young (anymore), and so forth. I have so many intersections that I was confused by the term intersectionality. Anyway, these aspects of myself filter into my art, my writing... However, I cannot say it enhances any sense of freedom; in our times, it can be terrifying to find oneself endlessly marginalized.

7. How did you realize you were trying to please people and not being true to yourself as an artist? How did your work change when you started creating what you wanted?

I had gotten in some trouble over a painting—a portrait of filmmaker Renvik—and my only exhibition possibilities were craft shows. It’s a lot of time-expense work to exhibit at farm markets and craft shows. After I heard "family friendly" enough times, it began to constrain my work. It’s still a struggle to break free. It’s becoming more and more crucial to me as my illness steals my available energy—to pour it in without censorship.

8. What (do you think) is the biggest barrier to your career as a writer/artist? How do you work around it?

That’s an ironic question, considering we are communicating via DM, instead of whatever; therefore, it seems obvious that my non-urban endless data access in our times doesn’t help. My isolated existence is not conducive to inclusion in an arts community that might emphasize group dynamics. Being disabled/impaired makes people uncomfortable. I am not so great at hustling the game—my work sells, but it would sell better if it was sold by a seller, a pro.

Okay. So there’s lots and lots of barriers—more than that, cuz it’s Always Juggling Energy (spoons).

How do I get around these? I don’t know that I do. I just persist. What I do is born of passion. The intersections of what I make and the work in the world is a constant conundrum.  I made a decision—had a moment of realization, actually, at the Heartland Cafe where I was giving a poetry performance—that it’s the work.

I realized, while I was waiting to go onstage, and watching a performer who was a real hustler, who hustled up a brief few years of arts fame—in so much as no one alive is household famous in most of the arts—but her work was sooo similar to other plots and performances done then. Yes, I saw her hustle, what is called "game" now, and realized that you can game/promote/hustle your work, or you can focus on the quality of the work. I chose the latter, but it comes at a cost.

9. What accomplishment in your artistic/writing career has meant the most to you and why? Did it change your career's trajectory?

My life’s trajectory was formed in fourth grade when I wrote my first poem. I have tried to stay committed to poetry ever since. Along the way, there were incidents that felt supportive of my commitment to my writing; these include, but are not limited to: my first paid poetry reading as a featured reader, opening a number of times for Lydia Lunch, certain publications, certain inclusions... the last is more problematic the more obvious my impairments (disability being a legal term that’s still in decision) are.

The literary and arts communities are usually not warm and welcoming these days—ours are not arts-supporting times.

Nonetheless, I persist. Coping with the deleterious effects of chronic illness is quite the challenge, and it doesn’t leave much room for arts politics, or marketing (submission) and book promotion. The choice is always that if I can create something on a day, I will always choose to keep working.

10. What are your plans for the future? Where do you hope your career is a decade from now?

I am a poet and will be all my days remaining. There are art forms that often require more strength than I have, so I work more slowly. I have whole books buried in obsolete computers and I hope to lazurus those somehow—I have problems with these devices—true story: I once sat down at a computer, not touching it, merely presenting myself in the chair, and it crashed. It did. I don’t know if I have internal electrical divergence too, myself. Amusing thought.

Anyway, I will continue to produce, as I am able. The question is:

Who will find me? Some people really get what I am doing. How will the works find their way to such people? That’s what another ten years will decide.
Biography:  Su Zi is equal parts writer, artist, and badass eco-feminist.  She holds an MA in English and has published in such places as Driving DigestExquisite Corpse, and Blue Heron Review (where she was nominated for The Pushcart Prize).  She resides in Florida with her horses, dogs, cats, and turtles where she runs The Red Mare Chapbook Series.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Branching Birds by Hugh Cook

I stare at shifting light
Bleeding through the curt branches
Tapping shadows and sunburnt clouds.
I feel like the wind-caught leaves
Finding themselves walked in delicate circles.

Chestnut and dark cinnamon feathers
Land above,
Looking at me,
From endless black eyes that say
“Beauty remains.”

A teary breeze took the bird off
Leaving me for what
Next drives into my mind’s wild circles.
Biography:  Hugh Cook attends University of California, Santa Barbara, studying Writing and Literature. He has authored a collection titled The Day it Became a Circle (Afterworld Books). His poetry has been published in Tipton Poetry Journal, Ariel Chart and Muddy River Poetry Review.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Three Inches from the Wall

I go out for six hours.  The sun warms my neck like a lover's breath.  Shelves of books greet me when I enter my church:  The local library.  I meet friends, we talk, we go to lunch, and shadows stretch long before we say farewell.

I go home.  I run fever as my skin burns and freezes like a microwaved dinner.  My entire body aches.  I dread moving.  I sleep for nine hours then nap for three more the next day.  My brain fogs over.  This is the price I pay for leaving my apartment.  This is my body's fee.

My writing suffers for days afterwards.  Everyone needs lived experience of some kind to be a better writer.  Research renders me unable to record it.  The well I fill with life poisons my body.

Three days of agony and mismatched thoughts.  Seventy-two hours of not writing, editing, or submitting.  If I go out twice, the rest of the week is useless.  I'm useless.

Do I live or do I write?  I can't always choose both.
I can never pinpoint when it started... not exactly.  All I know is that I didn't used to be like this—my current state, the "where" I am now.

I fill my days with as much as possible, but a wall looms in front of me.  If I stretch out my tongue, I can almost feel the chilled, rough exterior scraping against my taste buds.  It's there and I'll hit it.  It's there... and that's the finish line.

The entirety of my future accomplishments are stuffed within the three inches of space between my body and my stopping point.  How much can I fit in there?  How much can conceivably be left?  Will I ever put a full-length poetry collection into the world?  Are there enough spoons to start a writers' group?
The future is a thief shuffling out my front door with the present in an opaque trash bag.  I try to focus on the poem I might write today instead of a theoretical collection.  I manage a blog post now, and put the ones I'll be too weak or ill to finish out of my mind.  I don't always succeed.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Market Updates

Magazines, Websites, Etc. (for Us) 


Disability Arts Online

Inclusive Mainstream Publications


Please See Me
Bleached Butterfly
Uncanny Magazine


Scryptic (Defunct)

Friday, June 14, 2019

Writing: An "Elitist" Profession

In the UK, a report suggests writing will soon become a profession where only the wealthy (or people whose income is subsidized by an employed spouse) can truly participate.  It isn't much different in America.  Few people can write full-time.  There are writers who have jobs while writing on the side, but their output can suffer.

Where does all of this leave disabled and/or neurodivergent writers?  Are we poised to fill the gaps?  Are we going to be worse off than before?
If more novelists (able-bodied and not) have to maintain full-time jobs, we will probably see competition increase for literary magazine spots.  Novelists are unlikely to abandon long projects altogether, but will try to compensate with slower production by getting their names out there in more ways*.  So, disabled and neurodivergent short-form writers won't benefit** from the shift of writing becoming "elitist"".

Unemployed disabled and neurodivergent novelists could fill the gaps left behind by novelists who write slower (or quit entirely) because of their jobs.  But, they must be in a position where income doesn't impact medical insurance or other necessary coverage (unless they give their work away for free***).  Their health and living situations must also be stable enough to let them capitalize on the opportunity.  People who have all aspects align will become a new subset of elite writer:  The Paramount Writer-Cripple.

At the very least, there could be fewer able-bodied/neurotypical writers creating harmful portrayals of us in the future.****

* A lot of novelists are also short-form writers.  I am only suggesting their output of shorter pieces may increase, or novelists who haven't crossed genres will do so out of necessity.

** Content mills might need more writers in the future.  So, there's that.

*** Many of us already undervalue our writing because we fear losing our benefits or we lack faith in ourselves.

**** The writers who are "elite" will still write about us.  Let's hope they hire competent sensitivity readers.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Guidelines for Poetry and Flash Fiction

We are open to poetry and flash fiction year-round.

We only consider pieces from disabled and/or neurodivergent writers.  All creative writing sent to us must have disabled/neurodivergent characters or themes.

We do not accept anything racist, transphobic, fatphobic, etc.
Appropriate trigger warnings must be included.  Vulgar language permitted if essential to the piece.  No excessive violence or explicit sex.

Genre work (not just literary) is welcome here.  We aren't snobs.

We consider simultaneous submissions if clearly marked as such.  If accepted elsewhere, inform us immediately.

  • Story length:  750 words maximum (soft limit) with no true minimum.
  • You may submit two stories at a time in separate emails.
  • Your piece must be in the body of the email with double-spacing between paragraphs (not between every line).  If your story requires odd formatting, query before sending an attachment.
  • Subject line should read:  "Fiction Submission".
  • A cover letter section is optional.
  • Send submissions to:  handyuncappedpen[at]gmail[dot]com

  • Poem length:  100 lines maximum (hard limit) with no minimum.  Stanza breaks don't count as lines for us.
  • Submit up to three poems at a time in one email.
  • All poems must be sent in the body of the email unless they require special formatting.  Query before sending an attachment.
  • Subject line should read:  "Poetry Submission".
  • A cover letter section is optional.
  • Send submissions to:  handyuncappedpen[at]gmail[dot]com

Rights, Payment, and Miscellaneous:

We request first electronic rights for new work, reprint rights for previously published work, and archival rights.  We will also excerpt pieces on our social media account.  Work appearing on your personal blog or elsewhere in its entirety counts as previously published.  

Payment for previously unpublished work is $3 per poem or flash fiction piece via Paypal.  We can't mail checks.  We don't pay for reprints.  

Response time is between two and four weeks.  Feel free to email if a month goes by!

If your piece is accepted, we'll ask for a third-person biography of 100 words maximum.  Photographs are nice... but optional.

Plagiarism will not be tolerated, and we will take every accusation of plagiarism seriously.  
If you write something that could get you sued, please don't send it here.  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Changes (Feedback Appreciated)

My erratic brain can't cling to a topic that's important or meaningful enough to post about.  Instead, I'm thinking about changes.  Feel free to make suggestions or comment on anything.  Some things aren't decided quite yet.

Mentor Program 2019:

Mentees who aren't picked will receive rejection emails before the announcement post goes live.

Chosen mentees will have a picture up with their announcement.  (Kind of like the post the mentors have.)  If they're comfortable...

Mentor Program 2020:

A mentor will (hopefully) exist for teen writers.

People with advanced degrees might be able to apply as mentees, provided they received their degree at least ten (or fifteen) years prior.

On the Blog 2019:

We will open to flash fiction and poetry year-round.  When we do, it will be under similar guidelines and pay as reviews and essays.  Warning:  I'm picky.

The occasional giveaway will occur.  (Our first is expected to be in September with Keah Brown's The Pretty One.)

Our Next Step 2020:  

A Youtube channel for readings and vlogs?  Free, on-demand writing classes taught by other crips (I'd pay the instructors... not sure how much)?  I don't know.  What do you folks need as disabled and/or neurodivergent writers?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Mentee Applications Open Through June 27th (Extended)

You've read about our mentors.  You checked over the mentee application's guidelines and restrictions.  Now, it's time to apply!

A few things:

1.  An "advanced degree" is anything above a bachelor's.

2.  Preferred pronouns include "he/him", "she/her", or "they/them".  Basically, are you male, female, or nonbinary?  We try quite hard to respect your identity.

3.  You don't have to have a book-length project to apply.  

4. You can just copy and paste all the questions in the body of an email with your answers and attach your writing sample.  If you can't, please contact us and we'll try to work with you!

5.  If you have questions, please email us at: or find us on Twitter:  @HandUnPen

We're so excited to bring you this program another year!  

Friday, April 26, 2019

Meet the Mentors for 2019!

Su Zi - Literary and academic writing in a variety of forms (editing, development, chapbook organization)

Note:  This mentor will not read erotica or anything with killing of any kind.  She is also not fond of genre work.

Su Zi is equal parts writer, artist, and badass eco-feminist.  She holds an MA in English and has published in such places as Driving Digest, Exquisite Corpse, and Blue Heron Review (where she was nominated for The Pushcart Prize).  She resides in Florida with her horses, dogs, cats, and turtles where she runs The Red Mare Chapbook Series.

Methods of correspondence:  Twitter DM (another method may be agreed upon later)
Ann Stewart McBee - Short fiction/flash fiction/poetry (story development, putting a chapbook together, submitting, query letters)

Note: Her emphasis is flash fiction.

Ann Stewart McBee was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She graduated with a PhD in creative writing at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where she taught undergraduate composition, creative writing and literature. She has published fiction and poetry in Ellipsis, Untamed Ink, The Pinch, Citron Review, and At Length among others. Her short story collection titled How Rabbit Went Down and other Mishaps is available at Hoot-n-Waddle press. She now teaches English at Des Moines Area Community College, and lives outside Des Moines, Iowa with her husband and a smelly terrier.

Methods of correspondence:  Email
Carey Link - Poetry (editing, submitting, offering feedback, query letters)

As part of a military family, Carey Link has had the opportunity to grow up in many places across United States and Germany. Carey has resided in Huntsville, Alabama for the past 20 years. In 2008, Carey completed a B. A. in psychology from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In 2016, Carey retired after 16 years of working in civil service in the Civilian Personnel Advisory Cener (CPAC) and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) at Redstone Arsenal.

Carey has been writing poetry since she was a teenager. Carey has published a chapbook What it Means to Climb a Tree (Finishing Line Press) and a poetry collection Awakening to Holes in the Arc of Sun (Mule on a Ferris Wheel).

Methods of correspondence:  Email
S. Baer Lederman - Novels/Short fiction/Essays (copy editing, submitting, novel/story development, novel/story editing, essay editing/writing)

S. Baer Lederman hails from Rhode Island, but considers himself a Midwesterner at heart. Since finishing his Navy service, Baer has focused on writing, receiving his MFA from Roosevelt University in 2016. Baer’s fiction has appeared in Entropy, Chicago Literati, Dapper Press, and Nebo. He’s been featured as a finalist in Slippery Elm’s 2015 Prose Contest, Scribes Valley 2015 short story contest, Providence Journal’s H.P. Lovecraft short story contest, as well as the NOLA Literary Festival’s 2018 Tennessee Williams short story contest. Baer has been awarded an artist in residence positions at SAFTA in Tennessee and the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming. He recently completed his first novel.

Methods of correspondence:  Skype or email
Drew S. Cook - Poetry (editing, arranging a collection, submitting, fundamentals of poetry reading/performance)

Drew S. Cook is a native of the Ouachita Mountains, and the sights and sounds of that region continue to influence his writing. Over the course of his life, he has been many things, including an expert in obsolete operating systems, a student of literature and writing, and a Bipolar I. Drew's MFA in creative writing from the University of Central Arkansas will be/was conferred in 2018, and he begins/began doctoral studies at the University of Louisiana Lafayette that same year. His poems have appeared in NimrodPleiades, and elsewhere, and he is a former co-executive editor at Trio House Press.

Methods of correspondence:  Email, Facebook, or Discord. 
Sarah Krenicki - Short/Flash fiction (submitting, writing/editing, identifying places to submit to)

Note: She really enjoys speculative fiction.

Sarah Krenicki writes short speculative fiction and has made attempts at poetry. Her fiction has been published in Syntax and SaltGemini Magazine, and Lumina. She studied English and Creative Writing in college and after a brief stint in insurance marketing, found her way to the nonprofit world. She lives in a yellow house with her husband and two noisy black cats, and she overthinks everything, including/especially this bio. Pisces/Slytherin/INFP, for those who want to optimize compatibility. 

Methods of correspondence:  Text, email, Facebook or Google Video chat

Friday, April 12, 2019

(Review) Selections from Across Two Novembers: A Bibliographic Year by David L. Faucheux

Across the top on a tan background, the title appears (some words in black, others in brown). The middle of the cover is taken up by a brown bookshelf holding various books. At the bottom, the same tan background displays the author's name in black.

Notes:  There are very descriptive passages about food and alcohol references in this book.  I received this book to review.

Mr. Faucheux's book is a memoir-journal of a year in his life spanning from one November to another.  It is a year of books, good food, music, friends, quotes, trivia, and tales of navigation through life as a blind man with fibromyalgia.  This is a new, abridged version with updates from the author added.

The chapters are months broken into shorter, dated entries.  But, just because the entries are short, doesn't mean you don't get much out of them.  There is always some knowledge/insight to be gleaned.  Sometimes a lot of it.

Imagine sitting down with a brilliant friend for a leisurely dinner.  He switches topics from Henry VIII to types of vanilla to Louisiana history to his latest favorite read.  You aren't sure what he'll talk about next, but it's almost always something interesting.  That's what this book was like for me, though I understand if some people find it a bit chaotic.

There were times Mr. Faucheux would start to discuss a topic I really wanted him to explore deeper, only to have him leap the track to an unrelated musing (maybe due to it being the abridged version).  Quote example:  "It really does feel as though the country has different sections, each at a different phase in the utilization of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)."  

I feel the author is quite honest when talking about his struggles with society.  The casual ableism leveled at him throughout college because "blind people don't learn X thing or get employed in X field" was sprinkled in like it was commonplace (and it probably was).  When he lost a dream because he couldn't find a way around a technological hurdle, I related to him so much I ached.  Quote example:  "My biggest fear is that I'm simply not able to make a contribution, even a small one, anywhere, in anything."  {Me too, Mr. Faucheux.}  He also speaks on his limitations in an open way.

I enjoyed this read and would recommend it.

One last quote:  "My advice to young blind people is to be whatever you need to be, join whatever you need to join, and use whatever you need to use to get wherever you need to be in life."

Small reviewer nitpick (my personal taste):  On occasion, he uses the word "exotic" to describe foreign characters in books.  Also, the term "gypsy-like" to describe a person.
Author Biography:  David L. Faucheux was named Audiobook Reviewer of the Year for 2018 by Library Journal and has reviewed for them since 2006. He lives in Lafayette, Louisiana and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Louisiana State University where he also attended library school.