“Visual and Performing Arts students wouldn’t have a reason to be here if they couldn’t sing or hold an instrument or act onstage or spend time in the studio. The arts are a social activity, not something that lends itself…
Wordgathering, a Digital Open Access Journal of Work from Disabled Writers, Transitions to Publication at Syracuse University
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,” says 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,” says 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 wordgathering.syr.edu.
About Syracuse University Libraries:
Syracuse University Libraries provides expertise, information and tools for students, faculty and staff, alumni and the community. With over 4.8 million volumes of resources accessed by 1.2 million physical visits and 1.3 million online visits annually, the Libraries provides information services, responsive collections, knowledgeable staff, and safe and accessible physical and digital spaces that encourage intellectual exploration. In so doing, the Libraries enable the creation of new knowledge, catalyze scholarly collaboration and cultural exchange, and advance Syracuse University’s teaching, learning and research mission.
About the Burton Blatt Institute:
The Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) 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 will create and advance interdisciplinary, intersectional educational programs, research and pedagogy focused on disability justice, identities, cultures and studies. The office will also engage 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—will be at the heart of this initiative.