The Deaf Poet 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. They publish an online issue four times a year: January, April, July, and October. You can read or listen to audio about each of their staff members and editors on their About page.
It’s more important than ever to support marginalized voices. I recently funded payments to for all contributors for their special Crips in Space issue. Every dollar helps keep literary projects such as this one available to all of us.
They are “looking for narratives about the experience of disability that complicate or altogether undo the dominant and typically marginalizing rhetoric about disability. We especially want to highlight work that investigates the complexity of the experience across identities. Whether you’re drawing from experiences related to gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, race, or any other marginalized identity, we want your voice in our journal.”
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.
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.
HOPKINSON: How/why was The Deaf Poets Society originally started?
KATZ: 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: We no longer accept submissions via Submittable due to the inaccessibility of the platform to blind and low-vision submitters. Submittable has not changed their technology or website compliance to become inclusive and accessible to all writers, despite the awareness raised and inquiries from various disabled and non-disabled communities. Instead, please email us your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and include your full name and genre in the subject line (NAME_GENRE).
HOPKINSON: If someone has a question, how can they contact you?
KATZ: If you have a question, please feel free to email us at email@example.com. Someone will get back to you as soon as they can!
DEADLINE: Always open
PAYMENT: Based on donations, typically about $15
SUBMISSION FEE: None
FORMS: Poetry, prose, cross-genre work, book reviews, and artwork
NOTES: Featuring writers and artists with disabilities