The Deaf Poets Society



Sarah Katz. Photo Credit Leanne Bowers.

While literary journals abound, few take the time to focus on the experience of people with disabilities, both in content and the accessibility of the medium. The Deaf Poets Society, is an online literary and arts journal created by and about people with disabilities. The journal’s website offers audio readings of all text, including prose and poetry submissions, and written descriptions of visual art pieces. But the mission of Deaf Poets Society goes far deeper than just making an online journal that is accessible for all.


As stated in their manifesto, The Deaf Poets Society “look[s] for narratives about the experience of disability that complicate or altogether undo the dominant and typically marginalizing rhetoric about disability” and explores the complexity of identity. Many of the pieces in The Deaf Poets Society’s volumes investigate the interplay of race, sexuality, and gender with disability, challenging the dominant narratives our culture perpetuates.

Co-Founder and Poetry Editor Sarah Katz talked about the literary journal’s mission and origins.


JF: What impact do you hope to have on the representation of people with a disability?

SK: Life with a disability means something different to each person. Those differences are meaningful–whether they stem from identifying as black and disabled, or queer and D/deaf, or indigenous and crip. Those differences make up different strands of a larger web of a disabled life that we share in common. Understanding and communicating that complexity will foster a dialogue that I think we haven’t had in a long time. It’s my hope that The Deaf Poets Society will start to crack through that wall, and open disabled and able-bodied readers alike to the idiosyncrasies of disabled life.

JF: The journal also acknowledges what it is like to be a member of multiple marginalized groups and the pressure to package oneself into a single identity. How do you think more artists can address this issue?

SK:  It’s important for artists to consider what they’re risking in their art or writing. What does your work mean in the larger context of humanity? Marginalized individuals, especially those with multiple identifiers, have so much to offer to the conversation–given how few are canonized and included in anthologies. That said, there are so many authors and artists who are doing that work of being an advocate for multiply marginalized groups and people–Leroy F. Moore, Jr, an African American writer and activist dedicated to exploring the intersections between race and disability, Vilissa Thompson of Ramp Your Voice, Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project, Nicola Griffith, who co-founded the #CripLit chat with Wong (Twitter conversations about disabled characters in literature or the writing life as a disabled person), Raymond Luczak, who edited “QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology.” Leah Lakshmi-Piepzna Samarasinha, a queer, sick, and disabled nonbinary femme writer of  Burger/ Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/ Roma descent, is a lead artist with the disability justice performance collective Sins Invalid, who works with Syrus Marcus Ware, co-director of the Toronto disability justice collective, PDA (Performance/Disability/Art). Wordgathering, Breath & Shadow, Tiny Tim Literary Review, Rogue Agent, and many more literary journals are also doing some of this crucial work as well.

JF: The journal focuses on making the content accessible to those with different disabilities. What steps do you take for your prose and art pieces? How can other journals make their work more accessible?

SK: We try to make our journal as accessible as possible through various means. We provide alt text/image descriptions with all art and images, including author photos (which provides textual access to visual information for blind folks either using the computer, screen reader, or braille display); audio for all text on all pages of the website, with the exception of image descriptions; and finally, we offer a PDF of every issue in APHont, which is a sans serif typeface created by the American Printing House for the Blind (and is free for download on their website). We decided to offer PDFs of every issue for readers who might want to bypass navigating through the website to read the issue.

All of these steps are pretty simple–a little time-consuming, maybe, but we request that each submitter send image descriptions, audio files, and any other necessary forms of access (such as captions for video), which makes our jobs as an all-volunteer staff easier. Plus, by engaging our fellow artists and writers in the process of making the journal more accessible, we’re contributing to and benefiting from a community that sustains all of us.

JF: What works are you most proud of in your past issue or upcoming issue?

SK: I am so pleased by every person we’ve published so far, but if I had to pick a few favorites, I’d go with Mary Peelen’s “Barometer” in Issue 1, and Travis Chi Wing Lau’s three gorgeous poems in Issue 2. For me, these poems are striking because of the sense of boundlessness and gravitas contained in their narrow contours. Both poets employ quiet, idiosyncratic voices that are dynamic and that feel omnipotent in their explorations of the disabled body.

JF: What are your hopes for the journal’s impact?

SK: I hope that The Deaf Poets Society becomes a home to all people with disabilities. While we might have different backgrounds and experiences, this is a community where, I hope, people are committed to learning from and honoring the other’s experience.

JF: How can people support journals like Deaf Poets Society?

SK: The Deaf Poets Society is an online journal of disability literature and art that produces six issues a year and offers programming in the form of writing workshops, readings, and exhibitions. Beginning with Issue 2, which was just released this month, we began paying our contributors. We hope to continue to pay contributors–this has been our goal from the start–but we’re completely reliant on donations. They’re not tax-deductible yet–we’re exploring the possibility of nonprofit status or obtaining a fiscal sponsor–but we can assure you that every dollar goes toward the costs of journal production and author and artist payment. Every dollar helps! Learn more at

JF: What else would you like to mention?

Keep on the lookout for some exciting programming coming your way soon, including the first few DPS writing workshops, a reading, and an art exhibition!


The Deaf Poets Society releases and issue about six times a year and accepts submissions on a rolling basis. More information on submitting work and guidelines can be found here. Support the journal by making a donation today.

Final Week

This is a reminder that Little Patuxent Review’s 2016 Winter issue submission period ends on Monday, October 24th. The Winter issue is themed around “Prisons” and eligible work can be submitted through our Submittable page. Guidelines for submitting can be found here.

To get a sense of Little Patuxent Review’s expectations, purchase one of our past issues or look through our archive, youtube channel, or attend one of our Salon Series events.

2016 – 2017 Salon Series

Little Patuxent Review’s 2016-2017 Salon Series has begun.

The Salon Series is a monthly meeting from September to May sponsored by Little Patuxent Review and the Columbia Arts Center. The series covers a broad range of themes and topics featuring a variety of guests in different specialties. From lectures to workshops and demonstrations, the evening is guaranteed to teach you something new while engaging with the local community.

Attend one of the upcoming meetings below and on our Events page:

Monday, September 19,  7pm

The Maceo Leatherwood Retrospective:  Reflections of Family, Life & Culture.  

Maceo Leatherwood

This presentation, which is produced by his daughter, poet Vanita Leatherwood, will explore the creative journey of Maceo, a Washington DC native.  Having engaged subjects for his art as diverse as human rights, ancestral connections, music and spirituality in nature, his work is steeped in symbolism.  This presentation is a look at not only the story of one man and his craft, but a dialogue about what it means to make an art of living against the grain.

Monday, October  24, 7pm

Protest Art:  Art with a Message

Presentation by Ann Wiker, Art Historian, Artist, and Instructor for Howard Community College and Johns Hopkins’ Osher Program

From Picasso’s Guernica to contemporary graffiti, art has often been used as a means of communication. This lecture will explore how artists throughout history have used visual imagery to raise attention for political and cultural issues.


Monday, November 7, 7pm

Hayden Mathews:  Magical Places in Maryland

Join Hayden, regional historian and word-weaver, for an illustrated journey to magical places in Maryland that will span the length and breadth of the ‘Old Line State’ from the surf-washed shores of Assateague Island to Muddy Creek Falls and Finzel Swamp in rugged western counties.  Through the words of Maryland natives, Hayden’s personal reflections, and the images of these places, past and present, this presentation is sure to give you a renewed sense of appreciation for the beautiful places that can be visited in Maryland. Hayden currently offers programs for all ages that mix natural and cultural history. He also leads educational bus tours for the Smithsonian Associates.


Monday, December 5, 7pm

Speak to My Heart Songs of Joy for the Holidays with Vocalist Denee Barr and Accompanying Cellist David Duan.

Celebrate an evening of cheer as performer Denee Barr sings seasonal melodies and familiar carols with the accompaniment by cellist David Duan.  Enjoy music and songs that are timeless.  Let the night carry you away in a place of wonderful festivity.


Monday, January 9, 7pm

Bitter Memories:  The Fall of Saigon with Tom Glenn

Tom Glenn was in Saigon as an undercover signals intelligence operative in April 1975 during the fall of Saigon when the North Vietnamese attacked the city. Glenn cheated, lied, and stole to assure that none of his subordinates, their wives or children were killed or wounded in the attack.  Glenn will present his story of how he got them out of Saigon by any ruse he could think of. For his work during the fall of Vietnam, Tom Glenn received the civilian Meritorious Medal, his proudest possession.


February 27, 7pm

NASA’s HISTORIC MISSION TO PLUTO with Alice Bowman, The New Horizons Mission Operations Manager, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Alice, the New Horizons Mission Operations Manager (MOM), will talk about the voyage of NASA’s historic mission to Pluto – which culminated with the first flight past the distant dwarf planet on July 14, 2015. Experience this journey through the eyes of the mission operations team as Alice describes some of the challenges of piloting the small robotic spacecraft through the solar system for nearly a decade.  Her team itself was part of history, operating a spacecraft that had to travel longer and farther than any mission ever to reach its main target.


March 13, 7pm

Food in Film with Mike Giuliano and Marie Westhaver, Film Professors at Howard Community College

If you haven’t experienced Mike and Marie’s film talks, then you are in for a treat!  Back by popular demand, this presentation marks the sixth time this dynamic duo has shared their film knowledge and expertise with our salon groups.  Mike and Marie will be sharing their knowledge about food as a topic in film.   In line with the theme, attendees are welcome to bring a favorite dessert or snack item.  Columbia Art Center will provide other potluck snacks and beverages.


Monday, April  3, 7pm

A Musical Journey through South Asia

Shaista Taj Keating will share folk songs, ghazals from Pakistan, and classical ragas from North India. Shaista has performed on national television. She has taught at UCLA and has also performed at the United States Embassy in New Delhi, UCLA, and several international celebrations.


May 15, 2017, 7-8pm

Helen Mitchell  Why Are They Doing That? Practices in World’s Religions!

Do you ever wonder why people dress a certain way, eat or avoid certain foods, engage in practices that can be puzzling to outsiders? What do the hand and body gestures associated with some of the world’s religions actually mean?  This ‘decoding” session will highlight the core beliefs and values that underpin these practices.


June 5, 2017, 7-8:30pm

Ceramics Panel Discussion:  New Technology in an Age Old Art

Computer technology enables seamless, hands free production of ceramic objects, allowing precision form and exact reproduction. But what is the downside to the loss of tactile interaction between ceramics artist and materials? Does smart technology further an artist’s reach or stand between artist and inspiration? When does ‘hand-made’ transition to ‘computer-generated’?  Does it matter?  Enjoy an evening panel discussion amongst recognized ceramics artists, including those exhibiting in Columbia’s 50th ARTrospective June exhibition in Columbia Art Center Galleries.




2016 National Book Festival

Today at the Washington Convention Center in the nation’s capital, the Library of Congress is hosting the 16th annual National Book Festival. One of the preeminent literary events of the year, the National Book Festival hosts writers from various genres and backgrounds to celebrate the literary arts.

This year’s special guests include Stephen King, Salman Rushdie, Joyce Carol Oats, Michael Cunningham, Loius Lowry, and more. Young and old literary fans have more than enough to do with the children’s guide, filled with events tailored for younger audiences, and speaking events and signings are taking place for readers of all ages. Stephen King makes his debut at the Festival on the main stage at a sold out ticketed event, but all other presentations do not require tickets.

The National Book Festival was started by Laura Bush and then Librarian of Congress, James H Billington. The festival has taken place every year since Sept. 8, 2001. Co-Chairman of the National Book Festival Board, David. M. Rubenstein has been the festival’s benefactor since 2010, and in 2013 pledge to fund the festival for the next five years.

For those not at the Washington Convention Center, PBS Newshour is hosting a livestream that can be seen here. Social media is also keeping track of the festival with the hashtag #NatBookFest

National Book Award Longlist

This week, The National Book Foundation announced the 2016 Longlist nominees for fiction, non-fiction, young people’s literature, and poetry. The news was announced on the organization’s website and in partnership with The New Yorker. Nominated books include Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, Viet Than Nguyen’s Nothing Ever Dies, Kevin Young’s Blue Laws, Sara Pennypacker & Jon Klassen’s Pax. A complete list of nominees and judges by category can be found on the foundation’s website.

The finalists in each category will be announced on October 13th, 2016 and the winner for each category will be announced on November 16th, 2016. Each winner will win $10,000 while each finalist will receive $1,000.

Since 1950, The National Book Award has been a prestigious honor among the literary community beginning out a desire for an award system for writers by their contemporaries. Past recipients of the award include William Faulkner, Rachel Carlson, and Ralph Ellison. In 1996, the category for Young People’s Literature was added, and in 2013 non-writers were permitted to be judges for the award.

The National Book award is seen as a launching board for a writer’s career, offering recognition across the literary community as well as a public spotlight for emerging talent.

Go Back to School this Fall

Most Maryland schools are already in session, but for those who want to become students of the arts, there are still several workshops open for enrollment.

The Writer’s Center

For the past 40 years, The Writer’s Center has been a valuable resource for writers in the area, offering a variety of courses each season. Choose from a selection of courses from short story workshops, poetry, genre fiction, and more. Members of The Writer’s Center receive a discount on courses. A full list of courses can be found in the fall catalogue.

The Maryland Writer’s Association

If you are interested in finding a community while getting feedback on your work, The Maryland Writer’s Association has a listing of critique groups (both online and in person) throughout Maryland. The groups vary by genre and level of experience, so you will most likely be able to find a group that matches your interests. For a complete listing by county, look here.

The Columbia Association

Those interested in the visual arts are in luck. The Columbia Association’s new fall catalogue is here with courses in acrylic painting, ceramics, jewelry making, and much more. With a wide variety of courses, exhibits, and lectures, there is something for everybody. See the online catalogue here.


Don’t forgot that Little Patuxent Review offers resources through our Concerning Craft Archive and LPR in the Classroom programs.

Celebrating 10 Years in Print

This past Sunday, Little Patuxent Review celebrated 10 years of publication by hosting a reading at The Writer’s Center. Thank you to The Writer’s Center and everyone who attended and made the event a success.

Readers included Steven Leyva who introduced each speaker, but also read a selection of his own work, several poems and a selection of an early manuscript. Steven Leyva is also the co-creator of Kick Assonance, and his work has been published in the Light Ekiphrasis, Welter, and The Cobalt Review. Currently, he is the head Editor at Little Patuxent Review.

Emily Rich, who has written for r.kv.r.y, the Delmarva Review, and The Pinch, read a non-fiction selection from her piece “Retrieving my Belongings,” currently only available in the Delmarva Review. Her work has appeared in the 2014 and 2015 Best American Essays and she is the current Non-Fiction Editor of Little Patuxent Review and an editor for the Delmarva Review.

Also reading was new Fiction Editor, Lisa Lynn Biggar, and Desirée Magney, board member of Little Patuxent Review. Both read longer selections of their work. Lisa Lynn Biggar’s work has appeared in Little Patuxent Review, Main Street Rag, Bluestem Magazine, The Minnesota Review, Kentucky Review , and Newfound, and she currently teaches English at Chesapeake College. Desirée Magney is a former attorney and writes poetry and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in bioStoriesBethesda Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Jellyfish Whispers, among others.

Joseph Ross closed the event with a reading with various poems, including “If Mamie Till was the Mother of God,” winner of the 2012 Pratt Library/Little Patuxent Review Poetry Prize.

We hope to see you all again for Little Patuxent Review’s 11th anniversary.