Disability-Related Panels at AWP

This page serves as an archive of known disability-related panels proposed &/or accepted at AWP.

If you propose an AWP panel that is disability-related, please let us know via our contact page.

If you are a participant on an AWP panel that is disability-related, please let us know via our contact page.


AWP 2017

Accepted Panels:

All I Have Is A Voice: Strategies for Inclusion in the Workshop. (Laura Minor, Adrian Matejka, Daniel Jose Older, Jillian Weise, Erin Belieu)
Workshops still remain a problematic landscape for the marginalized. This panel seeks to discuss how the workshop has changed in the last 25 years, and consequently, remained the same. The following year has been a hotbed of online take-downs and intersectionality controversies. What this panel seeks to uncover is how “the other” is still treated within the confines of the contemporary collegiate workshop.This panel will discuss strategies towards pedagogical inclusion.

Beyond Accommodation: Supporting Disabled Writers at Conferences and Residencies. (Leigh Stein, Camisha Jones, Ryan Walsh, Sheila Black)
While people with disabilities are the largest minority group in America (20% of the population), writers with disabilities are vastly underrepresented at conferences and residencies that are so often essential to career advancement. Join the founders and directors of Zoeglossia, BinderCon, Vermont Studio Center, and Split This Rock, for a discussion on best practices for ensuring an event or residency is not only accessible (financially and logistically), but also inclusive.

The Body in Words: Teaching Creative Techniques in Sound Symbolism, Sexuality, Silences, and the Feminist Working Class. (Michelle C. Wright, Laurel Perez, Jillian Merrifield)
How do sounds, sexes, silences, and class structures play out in creative making? This multimedia presentation probes into the embodied dynamics that inform not only workshop practices, but also how students take up multiple genres and make sense of creative processes. Questions about race, gender, class, and language and how the body is constructed make for persuasive techniques, asking participants to engage in craft as contributing to social meaning making and alternative knowledges.

Body of Work: Exploring Disability, Creativity, and Inclusivity. (Sheila Black, Eileen Cronin, TK (Tim) Dalton, Anne Finger, Laurie Lindeen)
What is the physical body’s relationship to the creative mind? Four writers with disabilities will discuss their writing lives, and how social progress and technology are transforming representations of the human body. What effect has this had on literature? Where do we read ourselves in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry? Our panelists will discuss whether or not literature is representing the current climate and how they have represented their own bodies in writing over time.

But That’s Not How It Was: Memoir Writers on Pushing Back Against Expected Narratives. (Alice Anderson, Wendy Ortiz, Laurie Cannady, Lynn Hall, Zoe Zolbrod)
When we’re writing about hot button topics such as sexual assault, domestic abuse, and poverty there are often expectations about how the story should go. These common archetypes can be deeply held not just by general readers and publishing’s gatekeepers, but also by our inner selves. The writers on this panel share strategies for sorting out how society thinks we ought to have responded to trauma from how we actually did, and when and how to resist the pressure to conform to an expected line.

Celebrating 35 Years of Kaleidoscope. (Michael Northen, Elizabeth Tova Bailey, Ana Garza G’z, Barbara Crooker, Jenny Patton)
First published in 1982, Kaleidoscope is the country’s oldest literary journal dedicated to the work of writers with disabilities and disability-related writing and art. After a brief introduction about Kaleidoscope’s background, four readers who have been published in the journal will read from their work as well as selections from Larry Eigner, Vassar Miller, John Hockenberry and other pioneering writers whose work appeared in Kaleidoscope

Disability Caucus. (Jim Ferris, Sheila Black, Ellen Smith, Kelly Davio, Jennifer Bartlett)
The AWP Disability Caucus allows for those who are disabled or living with chronic illness, and their allies, to network and discuss common challenges related to identity, writing, and teaching while professionally leading a literary life. Building on our first meeting at the 2016 convention, we aim to archive our interests, challenges, and concerns in order to increase our visibility and emphasize our importance both to this organization and to the communities where we live, teach, and work.

Hands, a Flurry of Words: A Reading by Deaf Writers. (Raymond Luczak, Tonya Stremlau, Christopher Jon Heuer, Pamela Wright Moers, Kristen Ringman)
How many Deaf writers do you know? One, two? No? How about five? These five Deaf published writers will welcome you with their poems and stories on communicating and treated differently. Having this many Deaf writers together for a single reading and perform their work in American Sign Language (ASL) is an extraordinarily rare event anywhere. Come treat your eyes and ears for a bit of literary history!

I Sing the Body Queer and Crip. (Kathi Wolfe, Meg Day, Raymond Luczak, Lydia X. Z. Brown, Donna Minkowitz)
Due to ableism, homophobia and transphobia, the voices of LGBTQIA and disabled poets have rarely been heard. The panel I Sing the Body Queer and Crip will focus on the intersectionality of disability and queer poetics. Each panelist will read their poetry for 5 to 7 minutes; then talk from 5 to 7 minutes about their work. The remainder of the panel will be Q&A with the audience.

Invisible Illness, Tangible Language: How Disability Influences Craft. (Emily Corwin, D Allen, CL Black, Nicole Oquendo, Aubrie Cox)
If writing is a physical act, how does craft adapt when the body fails you? And what of the stigma attached to the label “disabled writer”? Five writers and editors will discuss how living with conditions such as fibromyalgia, Crohn’s Disease, and PTSD influence writing practices and routines, form and content, and working with a publisher.

It’s None of Your Business–Or Is It?: When Students Resist Their Own Compelling Stories. (David Hernandez, Lisa Glatt, Emily Rapp Black, Suzanne Greenberg)
How do we encourage students to recognize their unique experiences as potential writing material and to bring those narratives to the page? And where should we, as instructors, draw the line? Can encouragement become prescriptive? Is it fair, for example, to suggest to a student with cerebral palsy that omitting his wheelchair from his work may do a disservice to his writing? This panel examines the limits and rewards of teaching creative writing in truly diverse classrooms.

Making Space in Children’s Publishing: An Intersectional Feminist of Color Perspective. (Mathangi Subramanian, Zetta Elliott, Rhoda Belleza, Maya Gonzalez)
Lee & Low’s 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey shows that the publishing industry is dominated by straight, cisgender white women who don’t live with a disability. This homogeneity creates barriers for women of color (WoC) to find community and gain entrance into publishing, a fact supported by data gathered annually by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. In this panel, four feminist WoC authors will discuss the ways in which their intersectional identities have influenced their craft and careers.

The Manifesto Project: A Reading and Conversation. (Tyler Mills, Jillian Weise, Vandana Khanna, David Groff, Rebecca Hazelton)
What does a poetic manifesto look like in a time of increased pluralism and relativism? How can a manifesto open a space for new and diverse voices? Forty-five contributors wrote manifestos and chose their own poems for The Manifesto Project, a new book from the University of Akron Press. Here, four contributors will read their poems and discuss the act—their declarations of aesthetic, literary and political principles.

Not Invisible: Editors of Literary Journals Speak Out on Disability and Building Inclusive Writing Communities. (Sheila McMullin, Marlena Chertock, Jill Khoury, Mike Northen, Sheryl Rivett)
Disability voices are underrepresented in literature; the VIDA Count further points to this. Examining social ramifications of exclusion, this panel explores ableism in the literary world, barriers to accessibility and publishing, and promotion of disability literature. Editors of online magazines actively seeking work from writers routinely excluded from the literary field discuss disability, impairment, and embodiment with the intention of building inclusive and dynamic writing communities.

Outside the Umbrella: Poetry and the Vantage Point of the Atypical. (Jim Ferris, Leilani Hall, Stephen Kuusisto, Sheila Black)
What does it mean to write poems from what disability studies scholar Simi Linton called “the vantage point of the atypical?” How do body/mind differences that fall outside the umbrella of normality serve as fonts for work by non-normative poets? These are some of the questions that four noted crip poets brought into a year-long correspondence in prose and poems. The poets share some of that work and discuss ways the differences called “disability” complicate and enrich their lives and work.

Poets Mothering Otherwise: Race, Disability, Queerness. (Joelle Biele, Amanda Johnston, Hoa Nguyen, Deborah Paredez, Lisa L Moore)
What are the ethics and politics of writing about our children when our families are politically vulnerable? Questions of censorship, privacy and children’s rights resonate differently in poetry of witness or advocacy than in memoir or confessional work. As queer mothers, mothers of color, mothers of children with disabilities, what do we refuse to write about our families? What may we, must we, share as poets of witness? And how do we tell the difference?

Second Blooming: Women authors debuting after 50. (Ellen Meeropol, Paulette Boudreaux, Jeanne Gassman, Sandra Gail Lambert, Cynthia Bond)
The publishing playing field for women is not level, especially when compounded by age, disability, sexual orientation, race, or thorny material. On this 50th AWP anniversary, five second-career authors who published first novels after age 50 share their circuitous paths to publication and discuss how to navigate, survive, and flourish as literary late bloomers.

Silent Hearing: Poetry That “Sounds” on the Page or Screen. (Ellen McGrath Smith, Jennifer Bartlett, Barbara Edelman, Jordan Scott)
It is a commonplace that poetry has its roots in orality, but it is also true that some poetries are written on the page and for the page—or, more recently, for the screen. This panel will explore the sorts of “soundings” enacted in these poetries— from the modernist poems of William Carlos Williams to the mid-twentieth-century writing of Larry Eigner to the contemporary experimental poetry of Ed Roberson and Myung Mi-Kim—considering how they reach readers through the interaction of the visual with the aural.

Socially Conscious Fiction: Writing That Can Change the World. (Allison Wright, Anna March, Jabari Asim, Naomi Jackson, Garth Greenwell)
This inclusive panel explores socially conscious fiction and its ability to lift us in today’s socio-political climate. Panelists are at the forefront of such writing and will discuss their own fiction and a larger literary landscape. We will consider race, gender/sexuality, religion, class, ethnicity and disability. Examples from relevant work will be offered and we will examine writing stories that are both beautiful and concerned with elevating social ideals. Handouts: craft and bibliography.

Social Media: Breaking Barriers for the Marginalized, the Remote, and the Academic Outsider. (Kelly Thompson, Sandra Gail Lambert, Vanessa Martir, Michele Filgate, Alice Anderson)
Five authors who write from the edges will present ways, both practical and emotional, that Social Media has advanced their careers and craft. Class, disability, gender, education, and race are among the barriers to accessing a writing community. But Social Media can connect those of us who exist at the margins or outside of the academic literary world to editors, publishers, journals, conference leaders, and other writers. It can even serve as an education in itself.

Writing while Deaf: Fill in the Blank. (Kristen Harmon, Christopher Jon Heuer, Lilah Katcher, Tonya Stremlau, Allison Polk)
Does writing instruction for hearing writers meet the needs of aspiring deaf writers? The deaf writers on this panel include both writing instructors and current (and recent) MFA students. We will share some of the challenges we’ve faced and some ways we’ve found to meet them. Aspiring deaf writers need cultural capital in the form of exposure to other deaf writers and their works, development of their bilingual resources, and non-spoken word opportunities to share work and get feedback.

Writing With and About Dis/Ability, Dis/Order, and Dis/ease. (Sarah Einstein, Sandra Lambert, Sonya Huber, Elizabeth Glass)
This panel, comprised of disabled, disordered, and diseased writers, examines the ways our lived experiences impact both what and how we write. We will discuss the problematic imperative to write overcoming narratives, the contradictions of writing beyond and into the stereotypes of disability, and the lack of access to writing programs, conferences, and literary community. We will look at the ways radical “crip” writers are challenging these barriers, both in their work and as activists.