Volume 17, Issue 2 – Winter 2023-2024

Editor’s Note / Content Warning: Subjects referenced include racism, war, oppression, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, disablement, murder, death, loss, grief, and mourning.

Welcome to the Winter 2023-2024 issue of Wordgathering. This issue is manifesting much later than I and others had planned originally. Thank you for your patience. Recently endured personal losses and illness, grief anniversaries, an ongoing context of global distress, and, in particular, the relentless, catastrophic war in Israel/Palestine and Gaza’s humanitarian crisis have brought me face-to-face with what it means to negotiate and accept the important realities of “crip time”–anew and again.

January 2024 marked four years of my being Wordgathering‘s lead editorial steward. Anyone who knows me personally or has read any of my public reflections knows well how I feel and what I think about the war in Israel/Palestine. A sequence of insomniacal questions lingered, however, as I readied this issue’s “preamble”: As an editor, what was and is my responsibility, my ethical obligation, to speak against brutality, ethnic and cultural oppression, Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, censorship in mainstream media, and, critically, the murder and disablement of civilians–a great majority of whom are children? How could I (or could I?) comment at all without being accused of “bully pulpit” behaviors? If I said or say nothing, wouldn’t such “silence” risk being interpreted as having its own meanings, and would it not then have impact regardless of intention? Would my assertions, if offered, lead to Wordgathering being perceived as a place of “virtue signaling”?

I know of several poetry organizations, including Disability-centering ones, that have imploded in the wake of these kinds of questions, the organizational costs and consequences great and the interpersonal alienation arguably even greater. So, I’ve led with my truth, my own beliefs, my cultural biography, and I remind you, our dear readers, that while this journal is housed at a university, this journal belongs to you. In each and every issue, we also remind our readers “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.” As has been the case with all prior issue preambles that I have written, this issue’s preamble includes reflections of mine as an editor who is an individual alive in this moment with my own identities; axes of difference, privilege, and oppression; and values.

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 engagement.

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 issue’s Gatherer’s Blog was written by Clark A. Pomerleau. Clark discusses his poetic aesthetic, socio-emotional landscape, decision-making process, commitment to accessibility, and nuanced planning as his debut full-length poetry collection, Every Day, They Became Part of Him (Finishing Line Press, 2023), arrived in the world. His book is reviewed in this Wordgathering issue by our Esteemed Poetry Editor, Emily K. Michael.

Sheila Black, Kate Champlin, Cristina Hartmann, Emily K. Michael (as mentioned), and Michael Northen provided book reviews for “Issue 66a,” the issue before you presently. We have had so many requests for book reviews, we decided for this year to create a “book reviews supplement” that will be published in the Spring of 2024. To be designated as Volume 17, Issue 2s (“s” for “supplement”), this forthcoming collection of 12 book reviews and review essays will otherwise be known as “Issue 66b.” The Summer 2024 issue (Volume 18, Issue 1) will also include a plethora of book reviews, as will our Winter 2024-2025 issue (Volume 18, Issue 2). Our book reviews requests queue is sufficiently lengthy that we are beginning to schedule book reviews for 2025. If you would like to join our currently small while bold book reviewers team, please write to me at wordgathering@syr.edu. Unfortunately, at the present time, we do not have funds to compensate any of our contributors–including reviewers.

Camilla M. Pollock-Flynn’s “Bereaving” was audio recorded by Roman Hettrich. Ron Riekki’s “Mister,” “I had a PTSD counselor say this to me one time,” and “Have you had hallucinations?” were audio recorded by Ann van Wijgerden. “Cave Art” by Nicholas S. Racheotes, “In the military, when they would hit us in the skull” and “On the final day of your enlistment in the military, they hand out the PTSD” by Ron Riekki, and “Letter to Sis” and “Stargazing” by Claudia Wysocky were audio recorded by me. Other poems were audio recorded by the poets, themselves.

A few other “good news” items are in order:

  • A new Disability Poetics series has been produced, supported by the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach at the Burton Blatt Institute, in collaboration with our former Special Guest Editor, the one-and-only Prof. Kenny Fries.
  • Check out the poems by our wonderful Gatherer’s Blog Editor, Ona Gritz, and our wonderful Flash Memoir Editor, Dan Simpson, in ONE ART: A Journal of Poetry and in CLMP’s “A Reading List for Disability Pride Month 2023.”
  • Are you (or do you know) a Disabled teen who loves to write and wants a Disabled writing mentor? Numberless Dreams, a free, online creative writing program for Disabled youth taught by Disabled writers (among them, Ona and Dan!), has a new website with a lot of helpful “deets”!
  • A Call for a “Speculative Disability Poetry Reading” has been shared. In celebration of Disability Pride Month (July 2024), Akua Lezli Hope is organizing an online reading live on Facebook via Zoom of speculative, disability-centered poems. If you have one or more, and are available on July 14, 2024 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EDT, please contact Akua Lezli Hope before March 30, 2024 so they can apply for funding to compensate you for your participation. Ten poets will be selected and included. Visit disabilitypoetics.com for more information.
  • And, Wordgathering‘s listing on the Poets & Writers website has been updated. Please let us know what you think or if you have any questions or suggestions.

I’ve been thinking often about Prof. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s poetic observation, “If mosses dream, I suspect they dream of rain.”

May the moss-replenishing rains bring a new kind of growth, a dreaming that leads to a true hope and practice of lasting peace.

—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.