Volume 17, Issue 1 – Summer 2023

Editor’s Note / Content Warning: Some difficult subjects herein, including references and allusions to racism, transphobia, ableism, misogyny, classism, death, mourning, and loss.

Welcome to the Summer 2023 issue of Wordgathering. Incredibly, this issue is the first of two in Volume 17 (!). We have now begun our biannual publication schedule, having switched this year from a previously quarterly one.

As Editor-in-Chief, I am grateful for ongoing and outstanding collaborative support from my esteemed colleagues at Syracuse University, Patrick Williams and Steve Kuusisto. Thanks, too, to Dr. Kate Deibel for behind-the-scenes creative labors to ensure and advance Wordgathering‘s accessibility and impact

Immense gratitude goes, as always, to our exemplary editorial team: Assistant Editor, Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri; Flash Memoir Editor, Dan Simpson; Gatherer’s Blog Editor, Ona Gritz; Prose Editor, Sean J. Mahoney; Poetry Editor, Emily K. Michael; and Assistant Book Reviews Editor, Kate Champlin. And thanks, forever and always, to our Special Guest Editor (2020-2023), Kenny Fries.

This July, the assertion, “Happy Disability Pride Month,” yet again feels to me like a mixed and inadequate statement. As this Summer 2023 offering of Wordgathering (our 65th issue) comes to fruition, we are approaching the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In the wake of numerous and seemingly relentless U.S.-based legal decisions aimed at stripping away human dignity and life itself—decisions that have manifested in local practices, at the state level, and due to the actions of the Supreme Court—it is understandable that Disabled people are more than merely “worried” about the future of the ADA. Around the world, inalienable rights are being threatened and access is being rolled back.

Given understandable—and necessarily assertive—questions and strategies addressing the future(s) of Affirmative Action, LGBTQIA2S+ rights, reproductive rights, and educational access, among myriad other civil liberties, if someone (if not many…) might be “coming for” the ADA, next, what would Judy (Heumann) have encouraged or even have insisted that Disabled folx do, now and next? Using a present and future flourish, rather than the otherwise now sadly necessary “would have”: WWJD? (What Would Judy Do?)

As always, we must mourn our dead as we likewise lead on. This issue of Wordgathering is dedicated to the memories of Sally Johnston, Patricia “Pat” Killius, Robert “Bob” Herz, Minnie Bruce Pratt (aka MBP), and Judith “Judy” Heumann. May our memories of these lovely, bright, kind, and amazing people, and all of the other people whom we have lost, be for blessings (secular, sacred, or however you, our readers, define and interpret this word).

There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of stories that we could share about the luminaries Sally, Pat, Bob, Minnie Bruce, and Judy. Of the many tributes, three about Judy are included in this issue. Upon learning of Judy’s death, I put into the cyberspace ether a “call” for tributes to Judy, to be published in this issue of Wordgathering. Included in this issue are Kathi Wolfe’s Reading Loop, dedicated to Judy (beginning with a fabulous, “badass” poem), and reflections and celebrations of Judy shared by Devva Kasnitz and Scott L. Lissner.

Over ten years ago, Assistant Editor and Syracuse University graduate, Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri, took a two-week, intensive course, “Advanced Creative Nonfiction: ‘Writing In-Between,’” with Prof. Minnie Bruce Pratt. As Rachael told me upon learning of Minnie Bruce’s death, there would be no Micro Mutant [Memoir] Postcards if Rachael had not taken Minnie Bruce’s course.

Wordgathering’s team continues to receive wonderful communication from around the planet, including empowering updates about Disabled writers, artists, editors, and other creative folx; requests–including questions about poetry and arts accessibility; and (so many!) fantastic book, resources, and media recommendations (including reviews requests). As one of many great examples of these kinds of connections, Rebecca Leeds, a student at the University of Leeds, reached out in the spring to ask about some of our published works and permissions protocols. Rebecca was at that time working on their final year project—“an anthology of 21st century disability poetics exploring themes of breaking and mending.”

Earlier this year, Taylor Mitchell, an editorial assistant at Science Write Now, contacted us to let us know about the publication’s “Disability and the Body” edition. Disability-themed issues are happening ever-increasingly on the literary landscape. I considered reviewing the Science Write Now Disability “edition” (#8), but while alt-text was present for some of the visual content, I was admittedly concerned about the thumbnail images’ accessibility, which I discussed with Taylor in an open-hearted way. Taylor responded to me in kind; our conversation became about how to deepen and broaden their publication’s work to further include Disabled readers, visitors, and creators. I was then advised that Science Write Now was going to be “redesigning” the website, “foregrounding accessibility.” I’m grateful to Rebecca, Taylor, and everyone who reaches out to us, for I deeply appreciate these interactions and opportunities for engagement.

There is much to celebrate, without denying or minimizing what is disconcerting, violent, and otherwise troubling in the political contexts all around. Among recent effervescent news, Alice Wong’s outstanding animated presence is now appearing on the second season of Human Resources, streaming on Netflix. Human Resources is a raunchy, honest, and graphic show featuring content meant for “mature” audiences (HR is a spin-off of Big Mouth, also NSFW). We encourage you to check out Human Resources, if you can and are so inclined, and to visit the excellent Disability Poetry and Poetics collection curated by Jennifer Bartlett and Sheila Black for the Poetry Foundation, as well as—of course—Poem-a-Day, curated this July by John Lee Clark. John’s debut poetry collection, How to Communicate, is reviewed in this issue of Wordgathering. And…we’re so happy to have learned that Emilie Gossiaux’s “Love Letter to London,” featured in our Disability Futures in the Arts series (curated between 2020 and 2023 by Special Guest Editor Kenny Fries), will be reprinted in Alice Wong’s forthcoming anthology, Disability Intimacy.

This issue’s Gatherer’s Blog was written by Laurie Clements Lambeth. Laurie’s piece (including a powerhouse poem) discusses her roles as a writer, teacher / educator, mentor, and comrade, all in the service of clarity, accessibility, inclusion, and love. As mentioned above, this issue’s Reading Loop was written by Kathi Wolfe, and is a tribute to Judy Heumann. Congratulations to Kathi for her recent awards in both poetry and journalism. Kathi won first place in the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Contest for the poem, “This is Just to Say,” published in WWPH’s June Pride issue, as reported by Brickhouse. She earned the 2023 Dateline Award for an October 2022 profile piece, “Queer, Crip and Here: Meet blind writer Caitlin Hernandez,” published in the Washington Blade, as reported by Brickhouse.

P. F. Anderson, Kate Champlin, Denise Leto, Michael Northen, Clark A. Pomerleau, Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri and I provided book reviews for Issue 65.

Karen “KC” Christie’s poems, “POETRY,” “HOPE,” and “GRIEF,” translated from written English to American Sign Language (ASL), are posted on Wordgathering’s YouTube channel. (ASL Co-Translator and Collaborator, Dorothy M. Wilkins, is shown on-screen.) The written English versions of KC’s three poems also appear in this issue; these poems were audio recorded by me. “Brutus” by Yariel Luna, “Canes” and “Subzero” by Nicholas S. Racheotes, and “Tryst” and “Uprooted” by Sayantani Roy were audio recorded by me. Other poems were audio recorded by the poets, themselves.

Thank you for reading, visiting, and being in company with each other and with us. We love you. Happy Disability Pride Month. And Lead On.

—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.