Spring 2021 Issue of Wordgathering, a Digital Open Access Journal of Work from Disabled Writers and Artists, Now Live

Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature Spring 2021 issue is now live via Wordgathering’s website. The 57th issue of this quarterly digital, open access journal is made possible by generous support from Syracuse University’s Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach  at the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI), headquartered in the College of Law, and Syracuse University Libraries. Wordgathering provides an accessible venue for featuring the work of emerging and well-known disabled writers committed to disability poetry, literature, and the arts.

This academic year marked the 30th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The team at the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach, in collaboration with College of Law IT Services AV Media Specialist, Kyle Jaymes Davis, created an accessible video production of “A Crip Reckoning: Reflections on the ADA@30,” along with an accompanying resources guide created by Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri, Administrative Assistant. The video, with American Sign Language interpretation, English captioning, and image descriptions, features a distinguished panel of disabled thought leaders and scholar-activists discussing ableism, cultural change, equity, creativity, and intersectionality in the context of the 30th anniversary of the ADA. The panel was moderated by Stephen Kuusisto, University Professor and Director of the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach at the Burton Blatt Institute. Poetry is a major theme within and happens multiple times during the video. 

Diane R. Wiener, Editor-in-Chief and Research Professor and Associate Director of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach, said “There is a pragmatic magic for me in having the opportunity to underscore that this issue marks 15 years since Wordgathering opened its accessible, digital doors into the world. This is a world that has become increasingly digital and virtual, but not nearly as accessible as many of us would prefer and, in fact, demand. I am moved by and grateful for the abiding ethics, good humor, vast generosity of spirit, and boundless kindness of our editorial team’s members, as each of us does (and has been doing) our best to live, create, love, and work deeply in the non-idealized ‘new world-in-the-making,’ a year since COVID-19. I remain deeply grateful for ongoing and outstanding collaborative support from my esteemed colleagues at Syracuse University—Kate Deibel, Patrick Williams, and Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri.”

About the Burton Blatt Institute:

The Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) headquartered in the College of Law at Syracuse University reaches around the globe in its efforts to advance the civic, economic, and social participation of people with disabilities. BBI builds on the legacy of Burton Blatt, former dean of SU’s School of Education and a pioneering disability rights scholar, to better the lives of people with disabilities. BBI has offices in Syracuse, NY, New York City, Washington, D.C., Lexington, Kentucky, and Atlanta, GA.

About the BBI Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach:

The Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach creates and advances interdisciplinary, intersectional educational programs, research, and pedagogy focused on disability justice, identities, cultures, and studies. The office also engages with a wide array of University constituents to interface, network, and collaborate with local, regional, national, and global partners, and pursue development and advancement opportunities that underscore, celebrate, and enhance the rich and nuanced experiences of disabled people. Disabled students, faculty, staff, and alumni—including the significant experience and contributions of veterans—is at the heart of this initiative. 

Image by Chanika Svetvilas titled “What I have learned (Psychiatric Nursing)”


Winter Issue of Wordgathering, a Digital Open Access Journal of Work from Disabled Writers and Artists, Now Live

The winter issue of Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature is now live via Wordgathering’s new website. This is the quarterly journal’s 52nd issue and the first under publication of the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach in Syracuse University’s Burton Blatt Institute (BBI), headquartered in the College of Law, and Syracuse University Libraries. Under the new Editor-in-Chief, Diane R. Wiener, Research Professor and Associate Director of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach, the journal is now available via digital open access. This makes the journal free, available, and searchable for any interested readers. “Assuming responsibility for the open access publication of Wordgathering aligns with the University’s goal of providing shared competency opportunities for students and other constituents around ethics, integrity, and a commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion,” said Wiener.

Wordgathering provides an accessible venue for featuring the work of emerging and well-known disabled writers committed to disability poetry, literature, and the arts. “As the United States prepares to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 2020, offering Wordgathering via open access is especially important as a demonstrable example of the progress we’ve made,” said Wiener. Syracuse University is planning several events in the Fall of 2020 to celebrate the ADA’s history and the extensive work across disciplines and in the context of the University’s 150th anniversary

For more information, visit http://wordgathering.syr.edu or email wordgathering@syr.edu.


Wordgathering, a Digital Open Access Journal of Work from Disabled Writers, Transitions to Publication at Syracuse University

three Caucasian females standing next to one another in front of shelf of books
From left to right, new Wordgathering publication team: Amanda Page, Open Publishing and Copyright Librarian at Syracuse University Libraries; Diane R. Wiener, Research Professor and Associate Director of BBI’s Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach; Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri, Administrative Assistant of BBI’s Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach (missing from photo: Kate Deibel, Inclusion and Accessibility Librarian at Syracuse University Libraries)

Syracuse University’s Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) and Syracuse University Libraries will be assuming publication in December 2019 of the digital open access journal and website, Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature.  Diane R. Wiener, Research Professor and Associate Director of BBI’s Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach, will take over as Editor-in-Chief from Wordgathering’s founder and long-time editor, Michael Northen. Further support and advisement will come from Syracuse University colleagues Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri, Administrative Assistant of BBI’s Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach; Amanda Page, Open Publishing and Copyright Librarian at Syracuse University Libraries; and Kate Deibel, Inclusion and Accessibility Librarian at Syracuse University Libraries. As part of this transition, the journal will be made fully Open Access over the course of the next several issues. Assuming responsibility of open access publication of Wordgathering aligns with the University’s goal of providing shared competency opportunities for students around ethics, integrity, and commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“As we celebrate disability awareness and appreciation month and open access week in October, it’s fitting that we celebrate this Wordgathering transition too,” said Diane Wiener. “Syracuse University Libraries’ Open Publishing Services supports publication of several journals, including Ergo, Excelsior, and Public. Adding Wordgathering to this portfolio is a natural extension,” said Amanda Page.

In an interview conducted by Professor Jim Ferris (Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies at the University of Toledo), the members of the Wordgathering transition team share additional details and background around the transition. Wordgathering was originally published in March 2007 to showcase the work of disabled poets. Later, audio versions were added to accompany the poems in text copy, enhance accessibility and increase readers’ aesthetic experience. The journal evolved to include poetry, essays, book reviews, interviews, fiction, art, excerpts, and other work from contributors with myriad disabilities, as well as work by nondisabled people. The journal provides diverse, cross-disability perspectives.

According to the current editor of Wordgathering, Michael Northen, “…Books by poets who actually wrote about their own disabilities in poetry prior to 2000, could literally be counted on one hand…for the first time [with the publishing of Wordgathering], the poets in my group saw their own lives reflected in the poetry they read.” Dr. Kate Deibel notes “Technology has certainly opened up opportunities for disabled creators to contribute their works. I’ll be working to ensure that can continue with Wordgathering, as well as ensuring that people of all abilities can read the content in the journal.”

Northen goes on to say that the transition of publication to Syracuse University will enable “the marvelous archive of disability writing published in Wordgathering over the past thirteen years [to] be preserved and accessible to any interested readers or researchers…[and] the available resources that Syracuse University has to offer. The journal, under Diane’s direction, and with advisement, sponsorship, and support from Syracuse University Libraries, the Burton Blatt Institute and others, will be able to expand and develop in directions that have not been possible up to this point.”

According to Wiener, “In thinking of disability arts and literature as facets of cultural diplomacy and communication, broadly, Wordgathering is well-situated…to engage actively in and be among the leaders of an ever-expansive discussion and demonstration of Disability, Deaf, Neurodivergent (including Autistic), Mad, and Crip poetics, in the world today.”

For more information, visit http://wordgathering.syr.edu.