The Deaf Poets Society is a new online literary magazine featuring writers and artists with disabilities. They are currently seeking submissions of poetry, prose, cross-genre work, book reviews, and artwork for publication for their fourth issue with the theme of Crips in Space. They are looking for D/deaf and disabled perspectives and re-imaginings of bodies, science, technology, bioethics, and the future ways of existing.
I wondered how and why this lit mag came to be, so I asked poetry editor Sarah Katz a few questions to find out. See my interview with Katz and a link to their submission guidelines below.
Please also consider contributing to this amazing project so they can continue to pay their contributors.
HOPKINSON: Tell me a little bit about The Deaf Poets Society.
KATZ: The Deaf Poets Society is an online journal of D/deaf and disabled literature and art. Our focus is on intersectional narratives, by which I mean stories in which experiences related to the disabled identity intersect with or are complicated by experiences related to other identity markers (gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, working-class status, and many others). We focus on intersectionality because we believe it’s important to show the breadth of the D/deaf and/or disabled experience. We have paid contributors $15 for the last two issues, which came out of donations to The Deaf Poets Society, but payment is contingent on whether or not we have enough contributions. We hope to obtain nonprofit status in the near future so that we can apply for grants that allow us to offer more to our contributors, including different forms of programming. Recently, we had our first art show and reading at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and we plan to have many more.
Currently, we have a call open for our Crips in Space issue, which will be guest-edited by Sam de Leve and Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project. Sam is the brains behind the idea of “crips in space,” which began as a hashtag, and culminated in this project. Alice Wong introduced Sam and their idea to us. We’re accepting submissions for this themed issue until April 4, and we plan to launch the issue over two days: May 4 (Star Wars Day) and May 5 (International Space Day).
As part of our call for submissions to our Crips in Space issue, we’re sharing “pep talks” by both, editors of The Deaf Poets Society, and writers and artists in the D/deaf and disabled community! With these pep talks, we hope facilitate a dialogue about how disability might be an asset in the future or in outer space. We’re asking people to reimagine the future beyond the typical eugenics narrative, in which D/deaf and disabled people don’t exist.
From Chris Jon Heuer:
Our call reads, “The Deaf Poets Society will publish an upcoming issue (Issue 4) on crip futurism, a growing body of interdisciplinary studies. We are looking for D/deaf and disabled perspectives and re-imaginings of bodies, science, technology, bioethics, and the future ways of existing. Though crip futurism and the notion of 'crips in space' has a long history in both popular and academic thought, the impetus for this issue originated from a Twitter conversation in which Sam de Leve, Alice Wong, and others speculated what life would be like for crips in space. Would D/deaf and/or disabled people with low bone density and muscle atrophy be ideal explorers in zero gravity environments? Would D/deaf and/or disabled people be the perfect ambassadors to make first contact with extraterrestrials since they know the alien experience in hostile ableist/audist societies? What is the impact of human gene-editing and other reproductive technologies on future generations of D/deaf and disabled people?”
HOPKINSON: How/why was The Deaf Poets Society originally started?
Over the last couple years, the online community of D/deaf and disabled activists and community members has grown exponentially. Disabled members of the literary community have also been speaking out against instances of discrimination or exclusion, whether in publishing, the literary community generally, or at events, residencies, and conferences. As someone who went through an MFA program feeling, at times, that I was missing a Deaf or disabled mentor in my life, the internet has been my primary tool for finding and connecting with other D/deaf and disabled writers and artists who have also experienced alienation due to the stigma connected with disability.
While I can’t recall the precise moment in which I began thinking about starting an online journal, The Deaf Poets Society grew out of a personal desire to connect D/deaf and disabled writers and artists to each other. My husband, Jonathan, came up with the name, which resonated not only because of its tongue-in-cheek allusion to the 1989 movie, Dead Poets Society, but also because “deaf” is often misspoken as “death.” Freudian slip or not, disability and deafness are typically seen as aspects of humankind that are deficient, and perhaps representative of our mortality as human beings. But it’s an odd and plainly false connection to make, as D/deaf and disabled people live just as full and just as meaningful lives. This is a prejudice we intend to complicate.
HOPKINSON: What type of work are you looking for?
KATZ: We’re looking for work from D/deaf and disabled writers and artists that center on the D/deaf and disabled experience, and particularly work with an intersectional bent. However, we consider all work that’s sent to us, and that includes poetry, prose, hybrid texts, artwork, reviews, and interviews! For information about the format these works should be in, and the additional materials we’ll need to ensure that the work is accessible to all readers, check out our guidelines at www.deafpoetssociety.com/submit/.
HOPKINSON: Where can folks send submissions?
KATZ: Currently, we accept submissions through Submittable, but if Submittable is not accessible to you, we also accept submissions by email at email@example.com.
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
KATZ: If you have a question, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Someone will get back to you as soon as they can!
DEADLINE: April 4, 2017
NOTES: Accepts submissions from D/deaf and/or disabled writers and artists
SUBMISSION FEE: None
PAYMENT: If funds are available, please contribute here to this needed space for artists and writers.
FORMS: poetry, prose, cross-genre work, reviews/interviews/miscellany, and art
Categories: Call for Submissions