Submission Guidelines

General Information

Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature is a digital, Open Access, quarterly journal accepting rolling submissions for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter issues. Please submit your work for review by the 15th of the month prior to the scheduled issue (February 15th for Spring, May 15th for Summer, August 15th for Fall, and November 15th for Winter).

To submit to Wordgathering, please send an email to wordgathering@syr.edu with the subject line “Submission: [genre].” In your email message, include a short introductory note with a brief bio, your name, physical address or location, and email address. Detailed genre guidelines are below.

Effective June 2020, Wordgathering began publishing work under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license, which allows readers to view/access, download, and share the work (with proper attribution), but nothing else, without permission of the creator; all other rights remain with the creator. Please visit Frequently Asked Questions about Open Access, our Creative Commons license, and Fair Use for more information. If you have questions or concerns about this license, please contact us at wordgathering@syr.edu.

While we are deeply committed to poetry, Wordgathering also accepts short essays and short works of creative nonfiction (CNF), fiction, excerpts, and drama, as well as art, photography, comics, short videos, music, and suggested books for potential review. 

We also publish interviews and responses, and are open to considering other genres. Responses provide writers and artists with the opportunity to address one another, reflecting on prior Wordgathering publications. Further details regarding interviews and responses are below.

As noted in About Us, our aim is to highlight disability literature and the creative arts, and to do so in accessible ways. Therefore, we seek out work pertaining to disability experiences and cultures. Importantly, we privilege publishing work by writers and other creative artists with disabilities, and present this work in accessible formats.   

Since there are many different kinds and varied experiences of physical, cognitive, intellectual, emotional, psychological, reading, and other disabilities, we adopt a “cross-disabilities” perspective in our publication philosophy and practices. D/deaf, D/disabled, Crip, Mad, Chronically Ill, Spoonie, Sick, and Neurodivergent (including Autistic) writers and creative artists are especially encouraged to submit their work for publication consideration. We unequivocally support and welcome the creative work of BIPOC, LGBTQIA2S+, young, elder, and working class writers and artists. 

We will not tolerate hate speech or oppressive language and representations, of any kind, in submissions. Having said that, however, if your work critiques hate speech or oppression as part of its stated purpose, and if that approach and intention have been made clear, we will review your work. We will not review submissions that objectify disabled or other people.

Our ongoing, special features—Reading Loop and Gatherer’s Blog—are by invitation only. Reading Loop is a close reading or discussion by a contributor; Gatherer’s Blog provides emergent as well as seasoned writers with opportunities to reflect upon aspects of their own writing processes. 

We prefer previously unpublished work. If you send us previously published work, you will be required to confirm that you have the copyright to republish, or have otherwise retained the rights to republish your work with Wordgathering. If you have questions, please send an email with the subject line “Rights and Permissions” to wordgathering@syr.edu.

We accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify us as soon as possible if your submission has been accepted elsewhere.

Our editorial team is eager to review your submissions. We are all writers and artists who have gone through the submission process, many times, and we know how challenging this process can be. As we review your work and communicate with you with kindness, we ask that you share your work and communicate with us with kindness, as well—trusting that we will do our very best, throughout the process. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at wordgathering@syr.edu, if you have any questions or concerns about our submission guidelines or any aspects of the review process. 

As noted above, in order to submit to Wordgathering, please send an email to wordgathering@syr.edu with the subject line “Submission: [genre].” In your email message, include a short introductory note with a brief bio, your name, physical address or location, and email address. Detailed genre guidelines are below.

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File Formats for Submissions:

  • Textual: .docx, .doc, .rtf, or .txt (please use Arial or Times New Roman, and put multiple poems in one file)
  • Two-dimensional visual arts (including photography and comics): .jpg or .png
  • Video: .mp4
  • Music and other audio: .mp3

For video, audio, and multimedia work, you are also welcome to send a link to a private online upload of your full submission (e.g., a private YouTube channel link).

If you include two-dimensional visual arts, video, music or other audio as an accompaniment to your textual submission, please refer to the guidelines below regarding descriptive text and captioning.

If you have any questions or concerns, or require adaptations and/or accommodations in formatting or submitting your work, please email us at wordgathering@syr.edu

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Poetry

Poets with disabilities/disabled poets are welcome to submit up to five poems with a maximum of 75 lines each on any topic or theme. For topics and themes unrelated to disability, Wordgathering editors will ask authors to confirm that they have a disability and/or identify as D/deaf, D/disabled, Crip, Mad, Chronically Ill, Spoonie, Sick, or Neurodivergent (including Autistic) in one or more ways. Nondisabled poets must submit work that relates in some way to disability. Nondisabled poets are welcome to submit up to five poems of a maximum of 75 lines each.

Please submit textual work as a single attachment. Please refer to file formats, above.

If poetry is available as an audio file, please indicate that information in the introductory note. Upon acceptance, poets will be asked to either provide an audio file of their poem(s) or to grant permission for Wordgathering staff to record their work. Please refer to file formats, above.

Poets are welcome to submit spoken word, slam, and video poetry (including in American Sign Language and other Sign Languages). Please refer to file formats, above, and video and audio guidelines, below. 

Please note that formatting and styles available and as displayed on our WordPress interface may not be exact reflections of uniquely spaced and formatted poems.  We will do our very best to accommodate writers’ poetic conventions and specialized styles, working within our WordPress site’s parameters. 

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Short Essays, Creative Nonfiction (CNF), Flash Memoir, Fiction, Excerpts, and Drama

Writers interested in submitting short essays, creative nonfiction (CNF), flash memoir, fiction, excerpts, or drama should first send a query to wordgathering@syr.edu describing the proposed piece and how it relates to disability literature. Please submit work only after receiving editorial confirmation regarding submission(s).

Writers with disabilities/disabled writers are welcome to submit work on any topic or theme. For topics and themes unrelated to disability, Wordgathering editors will ask authors to confirm that they have a disability and/or identify as D/deaf, D/disabled, Crip, Mad, Chronically Ill, Spoonie, Sick, or Neurodivergent (including Autistic) in one or more ways. Nondisabled writers must submit work that relates in some way to disability.

Short essays, creative nonfiction (CNF), fiction, excerpts, and drama should be a maximum of 2500 words; flash memoir should be a maximum of 800 words. All submissions should in some way contribute to disability literature (philosophically and/or through your personal experience as a writer with a disability).

Whenever possible, prose that utilizes citations should be submitted using MLA formatting.

The editors strongly recommend that potential contributors read past work in Wordgathering for examples of the kinds of work Wordgathering publishes. 

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Art, Photography, Short Video, Comics, and Music/Audio Content

Artists and creators with disabilities/disabled artists and creators are welcome to submit work on any topic or theme. For topics and themes unrelated to disability, Wordgathering editors will ask artists and creators to confirm that they have a disability and/or identify as D/deaf, D/disabled, Crip, Mad, Chronically Ill, Spoonie, Sick, or Neurodivergent (including Autistic) in one or more ways. Nondisabled artists and creators must submit work that relates in some way to disability.

Each submission of art, photography, short video, comics, or music/audio must be accompanied by a proposed descriptive text. 

Short video content must be closed captioned in English (users should be able to turn captions on or off). We do not accept automatic captioning. Please include an accompanying full transcript file. If you are uncertain whether visual content needs to be described textually, please indicate your question in your submission email. To describe visual content textually, whenever possible, please use an embedded descriptive audio track in English (that users can turn on or off), or include a supplemental audio track in English. 

Editors reserve the right to revise or edit descriptive text and captioning, in consultation with the creators submitting their work.

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Manifestos

Wordgathering is open to manifestos that make contributions to disability literature, arts, culture, and education. Writers and other creatives who are interested in submitting a manifesto for publication consideration should first send a query to wordgathering@syr.edu describing the proposed manifesto, with a summary of its subject, genre, and medium. Multi-media submissions are welcome. File formats and accessibility information are included above. Please submit manifestos only after receiving editorial confirmation regarding submission(s).

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Book Reviews

Wordgathering includes reviews of poetry, fiction, memoir, and drama written by disabled writers, as well as books in disability studies related to literature and the arts. The editors strongly recommend that potential book reviewers read Wordgathering’s previously published book reviews in order to understand our expectations and stylistic conventions, as well as the journal’s orientation toward disability poetry, literature, arts, and culture. 

Writers and artists who would like their works reviewed should first send a query to wordgathering@syr.edu. The query should include a statement that explains how the work is part of disability literature and the arts. 

Please note that Wordgathering is very unlikely to review books for which the primary purpose is to be inspirational, uplifting, rehabilitative, or therapeutic. In the event that a review copy is received and it is discovered, thereafter, that the book’s approach is inconsistent with the journal’s overall orientation toward disability poetry, literature, arts, and culture, the book will not be reviewed. Please note, as well, that even if a book’s approach is consistent with the journal’s overall orientation, it is not possible to review every book for which a query is received. If a review cannot or will not be completed (for whatever reasons), the person who sent the query will be notified, as soon as possible.

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Interviews and Responses

We include interviews and responses in the journal and welcome readers’ suggestions and contributions. Interviews may be 1:1 or group-based. As noted above, responses provide writers and artists with the opportunity to address one another, reflecting on prior Wordgathering publications. Please send queries, responses, and suggestions to wordgathering@syr.edu.

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