Disability Visibility Book Circle 2020
NOTE: This was a one-time project in 2020. It is no longer active.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed everyone’s lives. It is a privilege to have a book published and yet the pressure to promote can be incredibly difficult and inaccessible for many disabled writers at the best of times but especially now.
With book tours and launches delayed or postponed, the Disability Visibility Book Circle gave one-time grants of $1000 for 13 disabled writers in the US who already have books published this year or plan to have books published in 2020 through June 30, 2021:
- Kay Ulanday Barrett
- Ellen Chang
- torrin greathouse
- Porochista Khakpour
- Robert Kingett
- Raymond Luczak
- J. Albert Mann
- Amber McDowell
- Lateef McLeod
- John Poehler
- H. M. PSYCHOSOCIAL
- Sejal Shah
- Maxfield Sparrow
The express purpose of this money is for writers to organize their own book event via video conference with captioning and ASL interpreters. Congratulations to these writers and see below for more about their books!
Kay Ulanday Barrett
More Than Organs (Sibling Rivalry Press, 3/12/20)
A love letter to Brown, Queer, and Trans futures, Kay Ulanday Barrett’s More Than Organs questions “whatever wholeness means” for bodies always in transit, for the safeties and dangers they silo. These poems remix people of color as earthbenders, replay “the choreography of loss” after the 2015 Pulse shooting, and till joy from the cosmic sweetness… More Than Organs tattoos grief across the knuckles of its left hand and love across the knuckles of its right, leaving the reader physically changed by the intensity of experience, longing, strength, desire, and the need, above all else, to survive.
KAY ULANDAY BARRETT aka @Brownroundboi is a poet, performer, and cultural strategist. K. has featured at The Lincoln Center, The U.N., Symphony Space, Princeton University, The Dodge Poetry Foundation, The Hemispheric Institute, & Brooklyn Museum. Their contributions are found in Academy of American Poets, The New York Times, Buzzfeed, Asian American Literary Review, PBS News Hour, NYLON, The Huffington Post, Bitch Magazine, The Advocate, & more. More Than Organs, published by Sibling Rivalry Press (2020) is their second collection. Currently, Kay lives outside of NYC area with his jowly dog and remixes their mama’s recipes whenever possible.
Survival Guide for Those who (weren’t) Healed (December 2020)
Why are disabilities considered “permanent”? What would happen if we as people with disabilities considered them “changeable” instead? It’s my story of exploring this mindset: what it means, what blockages one has to face (and how to overcome feelings of betrayal of our specialness and our community), how to love ourselves regardless of result. It’s the humanistic viewpoint: instead of expecting an instant miracle, taking it one day at a time.
Ellen Chang has been a career and life coach for the past five years. She first started out volunteering at NYU’s Wasserman Center for Career Development before beginning her own practice, which involved coaching young professionals as well as partnering with nonprofits such as Wheeling Forward, coaching people with disabilities recovering from spinal cord injuries. Shortly after, Ellen began her certification in ThetaHealing®, working with the subconscious to unblock limiting beliefs, helping her clients advance to a whole new level. Ellen published her first e-book, I’m Done Asking for Permission in November 2018. She teaches ThetaHealing classes and works as a Career Coach for Flatiron School.
Wound from the Mouth of a Wound (Milkweed Editions, 12/8/20)
Wound from the Mouth of a Wound is a collection of poems centered in refusal. In rejecting hegemonic narratives surrounding transness, disability, sexual trauma, and mental illness. It refuses to make these identities monoliths, but instead explores and interrogates their entanglement. It seeks to subvert the culturally received, medicalized understandings of these identities, instead asserting its own systems of meaning. This book exists at the interstice of past and present, of violence and memory. As the stories of so many disabled trans people are, this one is a story about survival, and surviving too is a kind of refusal.
torrin a. greathouse is a transgender cripple-punk, MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota, & assistant editor of The Shallow Ends. She has received fellowships from Zoeglossia, The Effing Foundation, and the University of Arizona Poetry Center. Their work is published in POETRY, Ploughshares, & The Kenyon Review. Her debut collection Wound from the Mouth of a Wound is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in December 2020.
Brown Album (Vintage Books, 6/14/20)
A collection of over a decade’s-worth of my essays on topics pertaining to Iranian-American identity: immigration, exile, assimilation, identity, racism and xenophobia.
I am the author of four books: two novels (Sons & Other Flammable Objects and The Last Illusion), the memoir Sick, and the essay collection Brown Album. My writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, Elle, Slate, Salon, VQR, Al Jazeera America, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other publications. I have taught at Columbia, Wesleyan, Johns Hopkins, Bard, Northwestern, and many other colleges around the country. I was the recipient of a 2012 NEA grant. My next book is a novel called Tehrangeles. I was born in Iran and live in Queens, New York.
Artificial Divide (Renaissance Press, 6/1/21)
I’m a totally blind writer that’s developing an anthology featuring stories with visually impaired protagonists dealing with complex emotional conflicts with Artificial intelligence. For example, what happens when a smart cane for the visually impaired gets too demanding? How can a blind driver save his smart car from being destroyed? The two have developed a very strong bond over the years. They platonically love each other, and the driver doesn’t want his close friend destroyed.
Robert Kingett is a totally blind author that writes essays and fiction where disabled characters live normal lives. When he’s not writing, he loves to listen to fiction podcasts. Visit him online at www.blindjournalist.wordpress.com
Once Upon a Twin (Gallaudet University Press, 2/2021)
When Raymond Luczak was growing up deaf in a hearing family of nine children, his mother shared conflicting stories about having had a miscarriage after—or possibly around—the time he was conceived. As an elegy to his lost twin, this book asks: if he had a twin, just how different would his life have been? In Once Upon a Twin, Luczak also reflects on his childhood best friend and his years being the only deaf student in an upper Midwest Catholic school system, and how all these experiences had shaped his identity as a Deaf gay person.
Raymond Luczak grew up deaf (and forbidden to use sign language) in a hearing family of nine children in a small mining town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He is the author and editor of 23 books, including Flannelwood: A Novel (Red Hen Press) and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology (Squares & Rebels). His work has appeared in Poetry, South Carolina Review, and elsewhere. A ten-time Pushcart Prize nominee, he lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
J. Albert Mann
The Degenerates (S&S Atheneum, 3/17/20)
At the turn of the 20th century, eugenics–a false science–was used to cast people with disabilities (physical, mental, intellectual, “moral”) as having “undesirable traits” needing to be erased from the human condition through segregation. The U.S. government (for the “health and safety” of the non-disabled) institutionalized people with disabilities for life. The novel is told in the voices of four young women inside what was first called The Massachusetts School for Idiotic and Feebleminded Youth founded in Boston. Diagnosed idiots, morons, and imbeciles, they endure the harsh conditions of the institution while continuing to live deeply meaningful lives.
J. Albert Mann is an award-winning poet and the author of six published novels for children. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and is the Director of the WNDB Internship Grant Committee.
King Kairos (2/1/21)
This book is a love letter to my son, Kairos. It includes excerpts from his family members that express their hopes and dreams for him. It will provide him and other children encouragement as they travel through this journey called life.
Amber McDowell is a first time author from Seattle, Washington. She began writing from a young age as a means to express herself and escape her sometimes lonely reality of being an only child. Amber has always described words as being her friends and hopes to share them with the world.
Whispers Of Krip Love Shouts Of Krip Revolution (Poetic Matrix Press, 2/3/20)
This book captures my in-depth views about my identity as a black disabled man, about the current status of politics, and my intimate experiences with love and sexuality. I hope my poems will delight, inform, and enlighten my readers.
Lateef McLeod is building his career as a writer and a scholar. He has earned a BA in English from UC Berkeley and a MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. He is three years into the Anthropology and Social Change Doctoral program at California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. He published his first poetry book entitled A Declaration Of A Body Of Love in 2010 chronicling his life as a black man with a disability and tackling various topics on family, dating, religion, spirituality, his national heritage, and sexuality. He currently is writing a novel tentatively entitled The Third Eye Is Crying.
This War Within My Mind: Based on the blog The Bipolar Battle (3/27/20)
Without proper treatment, bipolar disorder is a debilitating mental illness that wreaks havoc on everything it touches. This War Within My Mind is a game plan that will change the way you view bipolar disorder. It starts with simply changing the way you see yourself. You are a warrior. As a warrior, it is imperative that you train both your mind and body. If you want to manage your bipolar disorder, you need to fight it on a daily basis with the right tools and support.
John is the creator of the award-winning blog – The Bipolar Battle, published author, award-winning mental health advocate, husband, and father. Winner of WEGOHealthAward Best in Show: Twitter, he also makes appearances on podcasts, radio shows, and blogs. As someone living with bipolar disorder, John has firsthand experience managing it on a daily basis.
H. M. PSYCHOSOCIAL
Dren is a young man from the planet the Earthlings call Mars. For eons, Earth has refused to recognize the other planets of its solar system. He is on a mission. On Earth, Keisha is in her first year of college when suddenly a vision plunges her into a stark unknown realm. An exploration of adolescent angst, identity, and power; coming of age as a late-blooming outsider in the midst of a brewing interplanetary war.
H. M. PSYCHOSOCIAL is a queer disabled American-Born Chinese artist, musician, and storyteller. Creator of interconnected universes and multidimensional beings, survivor of generational and individual trauma. Dares to be boldly ambitious and unabashedly effervescent in a world that tokenizes, exploits, and excludes beings who experience the universe in divergent ways. They are based in Seattle and have allegiances to cafes, marching bands, and rats.
This Is One Way to Dance: Essays (University of Georgia Press, 6/1/20)
This Is One Way to Dance is a memoir in linked essays about race, place, South Asian American identity, and belonging. The essays span twenty years and cover growing up in western New York State, an area of racial and socioeconomic hypersegregation, coming of an age in a time and place when Asian Americans are nearly invisible in public spheres, politics, arts, and entertainment, and also how to keep moving (dancing, even) through depression, the death of loved ones, job loss, and the search for love and home, in the face of the challenges life brings to all of us.
Sejal Shah’s debut essay collection, This Is One Way to Dance, (University of Georgia Press, June 2020) explores identity, culture, race, and place and was named a “most anticipated” book of 2020 by The Rumpus and The Millions and one of eleven memoirs by “unbreakable women” at shereads.com. Her 2019 essay, “Even If You Can’t See It: Invisible Disability & Neurodiversity” was named a Longreads Editors’ Pick. Sejal is on the faculty at the Rainier Writing Workshop, a low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University and at Writers & Books, a community-based literary arts center in western New York. She lives in Rochester, New York.
Spectrums: Autistic Transgender People in Their Own Words (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 9/21/20)
An anthology of personal stories, poetry, and essays by Transgender and Non-Binary Autistic people. This book is one of the first illuminating the intersection of gender divergence and neurodivergence and the first to collect a wide range of diverse voices.
Maxfield Sparrow is Unstrange Mind, an Autistic activist. They are an MFA candidate at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and the author of The ABCs of Autism Acceptance (Autonomous Press, 2017). Spectrums is their first anthology.
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