Last school year, VIU student Sarah Packwood pitched the idea for a disability-focused anthology during a class presentation from local publishing house Rebel Mountain Press. Lori Shwydky and Cheryl Ann Kelly of Rebel Mountain Press showed immediate interest, and plans for the anthology were set in motion.
Packwood was willing to answer The Nav’s questions about the forthcoming Disabled Voices anthology.
What is the drive behind having an anthology based around disabled voices?
Initially, I was inspired by Rebel Mountain Press’ work in providing platforms for voices of marginalized communities such as the LGBTQ+ and Indigenous peoples. While listening to their presentations on these types of anthologies in their catalogue, I began to wish the Disabled community could have something similar and that’s when I asked myself, “Why don’t I pitch it? Why don’t I make that happen?” As the project has taken off into the submissions phase, I’ve begun to realize that the need for safe spaces for disabled and disabled-identifying people to work through our experiences is much bigger than I had known before.
Has it been a learning experience to juggle this with all the other university tasks you have this year?
I have a really hard time answering this question. I think it’s been difficult coming to terms with the fact that I should never again juggle switching minors, doing four courses per semester, being a department student representative, working for the View Gallery and The Nav, co-chairing the Disability Club, and editing an anthology on top of being disabled… but I also think this year will be one of the most rewarding years of my undergraduate degree, particularly with the editing work I’ll be doing on Disabled Voices. I’m beyond excited to review everyone’s submissions and edit the selections. I probably won’t get a Christmas break this year but that’s totally fine by me.
Would you want to see the CREW program work towards supporting more of these collaborative projects between students?
Sure! I also think there is a lot of self-starting students can be doing. On top of the instructing aspect of our professors’ jobs, they do a lot for us. It’s our responsibility to seize everything laid in front of us, and to push further to seek new, innovative opportunities to advance our careers.
Do you feel this collection would have been possible in a bigger publishing house or is this conversation still in a grassroots stage?
I think Rebel Mountain Press is unique in the work they do in not only providing a platform but also in preserving the raw genuineness of marginalized voices. Some of the topics and narratives we’re going to see in Disabled Voices do not fit the mainstream idea of what the Disabled community is, so I don’t think most larger houses would fancy it enough off the start to even accept the idea. The concept of “nothing about us without us” so often cited in Disability culture is important to me in the creation of this anthology, and I am grateful for and respect Rebel Mountain Press for being willing to go there with us.
The submission deadline for Disabled Voices is October 31, 2018, with both works of art and writing being accepted. Submission guidelines, along with more information on the project, can be found here.