Volume 16, Issue 1 – Spring 2022

Our jam-packed Spring 2022 issue–also known as issue 61–marks the beginning of Wordgathering‘s 16th volume. Huzzah!

Content warnings for this issue’s “preamble”: Nazism, ableism, transphobia, racism, Covid, war, censorship, and other distressing themes (co-mingled with some very positive updates…).

As Editor-in-Chief, I am grateful for ongoing and outstanding collaborative support from my esteemed colleagues at Syracuse University—Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri, Kyle Jaymes Davis (aka “Wizard Kyle”), Patrick Williams, and Steve Kuusisto. Thanks, too, to Dr. Kate Deibel for (re)joining our cadre of behind-the-scenes creative laborers to ensure and advance Wordgathering‘s accessibility and impact.

Immense gratitude goes, as always, to our exemplary 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.

Issue 61 (Volume 16, Issue 1) is the tenth issue of the journal that has been made possible since Syracuse University became Wordgathering‘s home, in December of 2019. Without Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri’s web mavenry, thoughtfulness, creativity, patience, and integrity, none of this work would have been feasible. We are marking this 10th issue (at SU) anniversary by designating Rachael as Wordgathering‘s Assistant Editor. Thanks for always being a First-Class Mensch, Rach.

Karen Christie, Maya Larson, Julia LeFrancois, Michael Northen, A. C. Riffer, Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri, Elizabeth L. Sammons, and I provided book reviews for Issue 61. We now receive so many requests for book reviews, we have a queue that is several issues long (this is exciting and says a lot about the journal’s ever-expansive energies). This issue’s Gatherer’s Blog, “The Writing Life: Finding Inspiration and Learning to Persevere,” was written by Jason Irwin. Jason’s excellent piece is simultaneously candid, poignant, and iconoclastic. The Reading Loop was written by soon-to-be Syracuse University graduate, Kevin C. Treadway. In the wake of recent censorship of Art Spiegelman’s foundational graphic memoir, Maus, Kevin, who had written extensively about Maus for an undergraduate seminar in the past, revisited this earlier work. In his rigorous and highly detailed Reading Loop essay, Kevin has expanded his prior piece for the present moments in which “we” find ourselves (distinctly and together). As always, the Reading Loop and the Gatherer’s Blog are invited contributions, and I thank Jason and Kevin for their stellar work.

“Let’s See…” and the “The Majestic Moment of Sunset” by Dmitry Blizniuk (translated by Sergey Gerasimov from Russian); “Walking” by Donna Dunlop; “a column” and “a forest of factories” by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa; “The Grid of Expectations” and “Working the Soil” by Judith Krum; “At the Neurorestorative Prairie after the Great Pumpkin Glow Party” by Laura Sweeney; “A Friend is Leaving Calgary,” “Amnoon Harbor,” Arena Storage,” and “What Feels Like an Ending” by Ethan Vilu; and “Abandoned Man,” “Anyone Home?,” “Blackbirds,” and “Chickadees” by Roy Wahlberg were audio recorded by me. Other poems were audio recorded by the poets, themselves.

As this issue goes to digital “press,” I am reminded, yet again, of my ongoing orientation toward simultaneous truths. There is much to grieve, and surely about which to worry, while there is so much, too, to celebrate and to honor. In the latter realms, I remain very happy that Wordgathering participated in the 2022 SMOL Fair, featuring small presses and publications, and other devoted comrades. Thanks, again, to our colleagues at SMOL for making this opportunity possible.

Like so many others who are committed to Disability Justice, while I am no longer incredulous, I remain angry and vastly concerned about the minimization of Covid-19 on the part of certain folx who do not seem particularly clear (and, in some cases, clearly do not care) about Covid’s ongoing risks for and endangerment to immunocompromised and Disabled people. In this spirit, I received permission from my esteemed colleague, Ellen Samuels, to publish and audio record, here, her poem, “Elegy for a Mask Mandate.” I was struck and have remained affected by this riveting and heartbreaking poem, tweeted by Ellen on February 28, 2022:

Elegy for A Mask Mandate

(listen to the recording of the poem, read by Diane R. Wiener)

For a year, maybe two, I knew
that you loved me. I saw it
in your eyes, the windows

to the soul, the only part
of your face I needed to
see to believe. For a season,

maybe two, you went
with me everywhere, holding
hope like a parasol over

our heads. I thought we’d
created a new world, where
the sick and the well

could be citizens of
the same country. I held
your disinfected hand at

the theater, in the grocery
store, places I hadn’t
gone for years. I knew there

would always be the
resisters, the ones who since
childhood called me queer,

cripple, lazy, hysterical. But
you muffled them with your
hand-sewn cotton, your

filter inserts, your N95s. We
learned to speak a new
vocabulary, to understand

what it means to protect
each other so we all survive. In
my home now, in my lonely

bed, I’m still speaking those
words to the silent house: My mask
protects you. Your mask protects me.

© Ellen Samuels, February 28, 2022

Misapprehension and (surely, far worse) the outright denial of human rights, including the dangers of recalcitrant “othering,” are often accompanied (as many of us know, unfortunately) by censorship and other forms of invalidation and social control. These patterns juxtapose strongly with compassion and respect, as highlighted by Ellen’s poem (with respect to Covid, ableism, and other themes).

Refusing Maus‘s censorship’s tenacity, as underscored by the presence of Kevin Treadway’s Reading Loop, occurs concurrently in this issue of Wordgathering with necessary refutations of transphobia, and the vitriolic tendencies that are endangering the lives of Trans youth in Texas and elsewhere. Manifestos by Clark A. Pomerleau and Jersey Cosantino deepen our conversations about intersections between ableism, sanism, transphobia, racism, and myriad other forms of oppression. As noted in Melinda Wenner Moyer‘s recent article in The New York Times, “How to Support a Child on the Transgender Spectrum,” there are many resources available to affirm and support Trans youth, including Gender Spectrum (“a nonprofit organization that works to create gender sensitive and inclusive environments for kids and teens,” as summarized by Wenner Moyer) and the provider search portal made available by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

Ukrainian poet Dmitry Blizniuk’s work (translated from Russian, as noted above), Elizabeth L. Sammons’s excerpt, and J. Peters’s manifesto, all appearing in this 61st issue, communicate in various ways about the necessity of supporting the Ukraine and its people in the wake of a brutal and relentless war.

A collaborative crowdsourcing campaign has been established by Disabled activists around the world to assist Disabled Ukrainians. Many creative writing and arts collaborations in support of the Ukraine have occurred since the war began, including when Nine Mile Literary Magazine worked with Hole in the Head re:View to publish свобода Freedom: An Anthology for Ukraine. Acclaimed poet, editor, educator, and activist-scholar, Ilya Kaminsky, has been sharing resources, including to support Ukrainian poets with and without disabilities, among others affected directly by the war. (Ilya’s poem from Deaf Republic, “We Lived Happily During the War“–also available in video with captions–has received renewed global attention.) Among the many local and global philanthropic efforts, a fund has been set up to purchase books for refugee children from the Ukraine while helping Ukrainian publishers. As the creators of this endeavor note with respect to the children, in particular, “we want to offer them a moment of normality, warmth, closeness and peace.” 

Meanwhile, in the good news, badass, activist-artist arenas, likely of interest to Wordgathering readers, engagers, creatives, contributors, and collaborators…:

And, in this hemisphere, Spring keeps trying to arrive.

The amaryllis bulb I was gifted last December just finished its miraculous, hexagonal blooming sequence. A kind of poem, to be sure, its stalk is taller than most cats’ tails and its flowers are nearly as thick as a group of grackles debating at the feeder.

Wishing you and “yours” a reflective, accessible Spring, during these compelling, transformative, and continuously challenging times.

Thank you for your ongoing engagement with and commitment to Wordgathering.

—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.

Please note that the opinions and perspectives shared by our contributors (in their published work or elsewhere) do not necessarily align with or reflect the opinions and perspectives held by the members of the journal’s editorial and administrative team.