Volume 15, Issue 1 – Spring 2021

Content Warning: This largely effusive issue 57 preamble also includes some disturbing content, particularly with respect to death, COVID-19, ableism, racism, Anti-Asian hate crimes, murder, classism, misogyny, transphobia, and queerphobia.

Spring 2021 (Volume 15, Issue 1) is the 57th issue of Wordgathering. As Editor-in-Chief, I remain deeply grateful for ongoing and outstanding collaborative support from my esteemed colleagues at Syracuse University—Kate Deibel, Patrick Williams, and Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri.

Emily K. Michael, Michael Northen, Clark A. Pomerleau, Johana Schwartz, Liz Whiteacre, and yours truly reviewed books for this issue. This issue’s Gatherer’s Blog was written by Emily K. Michael; the Reading Loop was written by Ryan Patel.

The poems “When Sleep Will Not…” and “Water-Color Girl” by Corinna Underwood and “Nameless Lake” and “Untrodden” by Roy Wahlberg were audio recorded by me. Other poems were audio recorded by the poets, themselves.

Immense gratitude goes to our stellar editorial team: Flash Memoir Editor, Dan Simpson; Gatherer’s Blog Editor, Ona Gritz; Prose Editor, Sean J. Mahoney; Poetry Editor, Emily K. Michael; and Special Guest Editor, Kenny Fries.

There is a pragmatic magic for me in having the opportunity to underscore that this issue marks 15 years since Wordgathering opened its accessible, digital doors into the world. This is a world that has become increasingly digital and virtual, but not nearly as accessible as many of us would prefer and, in fact, demand (including digitally). It is appropriate and necessary to thank Inglis House as our progenitor, and all of our founding and prior editorial team members. In particular, very special thanks go to Stuart Sanderson, Dana Hirsch, Yvette Green, and Denise March (Founding Emeritus Editors), and to Michael Northen (Editor-in-Chief, 2007-2019). You can learn more about the journal’s origins and orientation in our “About Us” section.

As the journal’s editorial team—a group of dedicated stewards, to be sure—has continued our commitment to underscoring and celebrating excellent work in disability poetry, literature, culture, and the arts (broadly defined, across mediums), we have also created some processes and approaches to our work that I believe deserve highlighting, particularly at this 15th anniversary moment. One such example is when an editor has work of their own that they have in mind for possible inclusion in the journal. In such cases, the editor’s work undergoes the same rigorous and thoughtful review as any other would-be contributor’s work. In other words, we are truly present for each other as creative comrades, writers, and artists, as well as in our roles as editor-stewards, always centering the journal and its purposes. We engage in warm while robust communication, which occurs largely online.

I believe it would be remiss of me not to emphasize publicly, as lead editor, how I am moved by and grateful for the abiding ethics, good humor, vast generosity of spirit, and boundless kindness of our editorial team’s members, as each of us does (and has been doing) our best to live, create, love, and work deeply in the non-idealized “new world-in-the-making,” a year since COVID-19.

Our March 2020 issue appeared on the digital scene right after the COVID-19 international health crisis and emergency began, and as Black Lives Matter protests expanded—globally.

Now, with so many affected, and so many dead—including a vastly disproportional number of Queer and Trans BIPOC Disabled folx, especially those living in poverty—it is no understatement to assert that we need poetry, literature, and the arts, in abundance.

Facing and negotiating climate crises, vaccination (in)accessibility, debates about who is worthy and under what circumstances, and other vast and vital topics remain at the heart of creative work in “CripLit” spaces—including within and for Wordgathering.

As our Spring 2021 issue goes to “digital press,” we are reeling in the aftermath of Anti-Asian, murdering hate crimes in Atlanta.


Black Lives Matter.

Black Disabled Lives Matter.

AAPI Lives Matter.

AAPI Disabled Lives Matter.


As an interdisciplinary, ongoing, and, at times, maverick locus, Wordgathering thrives because of its contributors and readership/viewership (in all of the myriad ways that folx read and view). Having our digital home in the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach at Syracuse University’s Burton Blatt Institute, in partnership with the Syracuse University Libraries, makes for many opportunities for collaboration in “Cuse”—and well beyond. As an example, I encourage our readers/viewers to engage with the accessible video production of “A Crip Reckoning: Reflections on the ADA@30,” and the accompanying resources guide created by the incomparable and ever-humble Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri, the activist-scholar-writer-artist-maven-finder who works diligently behind the scenes with our editorial team and me to bring each issue of Wordgathering—including this one—to you in accessible formats and approachable ways.

Very special thanks go to Kyle Jaymes Davis of Syracuse University College of Law’s IT Services for his tireless and gracious efforts and labors, assisting Rachael and me in seamlessly producing the Zoom webinar, the event video, and the event transcript for “A Crip Reckoning.” The video (with American Sign Language interpretation, English captioning, and image descriptions—and with an accompanying transcript, as noted) features a distinguished panel of Disabled thought leaders and scholar-activists discussing ableism, cultural change, equity, creativity, and intersectionality in the context of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Poetry is a major theme within and happens multiple times during “A Crip Reckoning.” The panel was moderated by Stephen Kuusisto, University Professor and Director of the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach at the Burton Blatt Institute. You can read Esteemed Poetry Editor Emily K. Michael’s stellar review of Steve’s newest poetry collection, Old Horse, What Is To Be Done? (Tiger Bark Press, 2021) in this issue.

Wordgathering’s team is proud, delighted, and honored to host poet torrin a. greathouse, via Zoom, on Thursday, March 25, 2021, from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern time. You are heartily invited to join us in welcoming torrin, virtually, to Syracuse University. torrin will read poetry and engage in conversation with Zoom webinar attendees. The event is free and open to the public, and will include live captioning, American Sign Language interpretation, and image descriptions. Please register here. torrin a. greathouse is a transgender cripple-punk, & MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota. Their work is published in POETRY, Ploughshares, & The Kenyon Review. She is a 2021 NEA Literature Fellow. Her debut collection Wound from the Mouth of a Wound  (Milkweed Editions, 2020) was the winner of the Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry (selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil).

The poetry event with torrin a. greathouse is made possible with generous support from our co-sponsors at Syracuse University: LGBTQ Studies, Disability Studies, the LGBTQ Resource Center, the MFA Program in Creative Writing, the Department of English, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and Women’s and Gender Studies. A book discount for event participants is available via the Syracuse University Bookstore. Please note that Wound from the Mouth of a Wound contains sensitive material that some may find triggering. Poet and Wordgathering contributor Clark A. Pomerleau’s excellent review of Wound from the Mouth of a Wound appears in this issue.

You are also invited to join us at “The World on Fire: Ecology, Poetry, and Disability Justice,” on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern time (via Zoom). Details and Eventbrite RSVP can be found here. The event is free and open to the public. Questions about accessibility can be shared via the Eventbrite contact link (at the bottom of the registration webpage, in most cases) or by emailing info@theaterofwar.com. “The World on Fire” is an intergenerational performance and discussion, and will include an evening of readings and a dialogue among distinguished poets and the young poets of tomorrow—a chorus of diverse voices exploring the transformative power of words at the intersection of disability and climate justice. Presented by Theater of War Productions, Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach at the Burton Blatt Institute, Nine Mile Art Corp, Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature, and The International Writing ProgramSupported by the Academy of American Poets with funds from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

All of Wordgathering is presented with yet another invitation: for you to share your thoughts, reflections, feedback, and other commentary. This is true, in other words, not only of our “Reading Loop”—a section of the journal that was initiated, in part, to engage with responses and to encourage and support responsiveness. Responses provide writers and artists with the opportunity to address one another, reflecting on prior Wordgathering publications, and thereby broadening our cultural engagement and conversation. Please send your responses to wordgathering@syr.edu. We will contact you, of course, if we wish to publish your response(s). Thank you!

And, speaking of communication, we are back on Twitter: @wordgathering

Where I am, I look forward to spring. I sense the daffodils approaching, and hope that you do, too.

—Diane R. Wiener, Editor-in-Chief


Underlined content throughout Wordgathering is hyperlinked (each underlined element is a clickable link), leading to further aspects of the content shared. Any questions about accessibility can be addressed by emailing us at: wordgathering@syr.edu.