Seemed like this spotlight was in the making years before I joined VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and was given this column. I came to reading Wordgathering‘s journal by way of the Beauty is a Verb Anthology. But I came to the anthology by way of intrigue of its cover photo. The black-haired woman, in a summer dress, in her wheelchair, an oxygen tank attached, underwater in a pool. This has come to be my most important anthology in my library. Wordgathering challenges me as a feminist and provokes more complicated and intersectional humanity. I hope you enjoy this piece and consider supporting Wordgathering through your means available, but especially by keeping this conversation going.
Throughout the journal’s growth, always at its core is an editorial effort to explore the “different modes by which disability shapes or influences writing in terms of form and content,” said Associate Poetry Editor, Sheila Black. What began as a journal dedicated to poetry and poetry reviews on disability, now is a gathering of multiple genres including essays, fiction, drama, art, interviews, reviews, poetry with accompanying audio recordings for those with limited hearing, and excerpts from forthcoming books. Wordgathering brings to the forefront writing which deconstructs a socially manipulated understanding of disabled bodies and provides the theoretical grounding representing how, with such stealth, the medical gaze has dominated understandings of “valuable” bodies in literature and society. In feminist theory, we know of this tactic as the male gaze, which sets to objectify the feminine form and limits women’s and feminine bodies’ agency. The medical gaze works in similar dehumanizing ways. The journal, in addition to providing space for the talents of writers with disabilities and those writing on disability, acts as a type of forum “countering stereotypes about disability [while] creat[ing] alternate language and forms of expression,” says Northern. Read More.