Content Warning: This issue preamble includes some disturbing content, particularly with respect to death, COVID-19, ableism, racism, sexism, sexual and physical abuse, xenophobia, war, militarization, immigration, refugee resettlement, and 9/11.
Fall 2021 (Volume 15, Issue 3) is the 59th 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.
Sarah Katz, Stephen Kuusisto, A. C. Riffer, Laura Anne Spencer, Leo True-Frost, Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri, and I provided book reviews for this issue. This issue’s Gatherer’s Blog was written by Ekiwah Adler-Beléndez; the Reading Loop was written by Kennedy Patlan. Adler-Beléndez describes his experience leading a poetry workshop for people who are imprisoned; Patlan writes to her past, present, and future selves. As always, Reading Loop and Gatherer’s Blog are invited contributions, and I thank Kennedy and Ekiwah for their beautiful work.
This issue includes an additional invited contribution—by a multiply disabled, anonymous author who underscores the importance of Disability advocacy during COVID-19, particularly in the context of higher education. I thank our anonymous contributor for sharing their manifesto, “Objections to the ADA Accommodations Process Before I Give Consent.” The author believes, as I do, that we deserve manifestos as disability aesthetics. Wordgathering has a history of publishing manifestos; another relatively recent example is Chun-shan (Sandie) Yi’s December 2020 work, “The Crip Couture Manifesto.” Yi’s manifesto was among the invited, inaugural exemplars in our Disability Futures in the Arts series, curated by Special Guest Editor, Kenny Fries. Beginning with the current issue, we will include a Manifestos section in Wordgathering. Writers and other creatives are encouraged to submit manifestos for review. Further information can be found in our Submission Guidelines.
The poems “Situationally muted” by Gideon William Hale, “Auto Reply: Re: Medication Refill” by Sabrina Kowal, “MACS9647-JD” and “Amberlight” by Raymond Luczak, “Helen” by Nicholas S. Racheotes, and “Sailing” and “Aleutian Night” 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.
As our 59th issue was coalescing for its digital release into the world, the United States withdrew all of its remaining military presence from Afghanistan. The personal complexities and systemic vicissitudes of these social, cultural, and political contexts (occurring in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—including surging variants) and the very great potential for impact in the worlds of disablement, and, therefore, on disability poetics, literature, arts, and culture, are significant, indeed. While displaced and otherwise impacted refugees settle and resettle around the globe, disablement, disability rights and access, and what Professor Jasbir K. Puar famously called “debility,” will remain focal points for necessary consideration, responsiveness, mutual aid, and compassion.
In her powerful 2017 book, The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability, Puar describes debility as “bodily injury and social exclusion brought on by economic and political factors,” thereby complicating and “disrupt[ing] the category of disability.” The geographic locations for Puar’s analysis are connected strongly with the 2021 contexts I’m describing, here. Whether or not readers and others who engage with Wordgathering concur with Puar’s analytical orientation, the concepts that undergird what Puar means by “debility” hold the potential to affect how global constituents perceive unfolding events—including those occurring during the 20th anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001. Another highly contested and complicated set of politicized circumstances, legacies, and harms, “9/11” remains replete with disabling and disability-infused experiences, and thus stories about and expressions of disability.
On a local as well as global front, shortly before fall arrived in this hemisphere, Syracuse (in Onondaga County, New York, on Haudenosaunee land) lost one of its greatest and most influential poets, activists, and teachers—the brilliant, wise, and kind-hearted Jackie Warren-Moore. In addition to being a poet, activist, and teacher, Moore was a playwright, theatrical director, and freelance writer, whose work was published nationally and internationally. She described herself as a “Survivor.” A Black woman negotiating health complexities, Moore shared publicly that she “survived racism, sexism, sexual abuse, and physical abuse”; she called her poetic voice “the roadmap of [her] survival.” In September, Moore was named Onondaga County’s inaugural Poet Laureate.
In work published in the March 2021 issue of the Journal of Poetry Therapy: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Practice, Theory, Research and Education, Daneshwar Sharma of the Jaipuria Institute of Management in Jaipur, India, described the central role poetry plays in enduring the COVID-19 pandemic. Sharma’s essay, “Reading and Rewriting Poetry on Life to Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic,” is freely available, in multiple, accessible formats, including via audio.
As always, we at Wordgathering continue to believe that poetry matters greatly, indeed, as do all of the creative arts. We encourage you to read work by Disabled Latinx creatives—among them, Patlan and Adler-Beléndez—in celebration of and to honor Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month, and all year round.
We wish you well in encountering your own meanings in the changing of the seasons—wherever you are, and however you engage inner and outer landscapes, in your own (hopefully accessible) ways.
—Diane R. Wiener, Editor-in-Chief
- Book Reviews
- Creative Nonfiction
- Flash Memoir
- Gatherer’s Blog
- Reading Loop
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