Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Dis Lit Consortium

Over the past decade, there has been a proliferation of literary writing by  people with disabilities.  Small literary magazines such as Kaleidoscope, Breath and Shadow, Pentamento, and Wordgathering continue to provide venues dedicated to disability-related writing; even the venerable mainstream Poetry magazine dedicated a portion of its December 2014 issue to a round table by noted poets with disabilities. A large enough body of disability literature has amassed that professionally published anthologies such as John Lee Clark’s Deaf Lit Extravaganza and Kathryn Allen’s upcoming Accessing the Future are possible. Poetry Festivals including Split this Rock and the Dodge Poetry Festival are going out of their way to seek out poets with disabilities and even large conferences like AWP and MLA are leaving the door slightly ajar to allow panels and readings of writers with disability to trickle in. 

In the midst of this genre emergence, writer Sean Mahoney, who co-edited the anthology series Something on Our Minds and has MS himself, made an interesting observation while attending this year’s AWP conference in Minneapolis.  Among the hundreds of books sellers and presses hawking their wares, Bellevue Literary Review was the only publisher of disability literature represented and there was no one booth or table dedicated to disability literature in general.  Upon returning from the conference Mahoney contacted the editors of small literary magazines that focused on disability writing – Gail Wilmott (Kaleidoscope), Chris Kuell (Breath and Shadow), Lori Brozek (Pentimento),  and Michael Northen (Wordgathering) – and asked if they would be interested in working together to secure a booth at the 2016 AWP conference in Los Angeles.  They were. Under the title Dis Lit Consortium, this group will set up a station where those who have an interest in disability literature will be able to stop and not only find out information about the publishers’ journals, but buy new writing from various authors with disabilities. Conference attendees who have just heard a panel or reading related to disability literature will be able to head to a place to explore work that might have excited their interest.

Of course, even something as modest as a conference table can mean expenses that small non-profit journals like shoes that make up the Dis Lit Consortium find hard to come up with. To help make  the needed funding the consortium, under Mahoney’s leadership, has set up an online site on indiegogo at  http://igg.me/at/Hfdb1CJrUUI to explain the project and help raise the necessary money. It is easy to brush off such requests - in all probability anyone reading this blog comes home everyday to find half a dozen solicitations by deserving charitable organizations – but the Dis Lit Consortium provides a unique opportunity to introduce disability literature to a large group of readers who are eager to find and buy new work that excites them.  It is a project well worth your support. 


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