New York, NY (March 3, 2022)— This year, the 25+ organizations nationwide that comprise the Poetry Coalition will launch “The future lives in our bodies: Poetry & Disability Justice,” the coalition’s sixth annual programming initiative. For this collaborative effort, the organizations will offer a range of programs that speak to this urgent topic. Poetry Coalition programming is made possible in part by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation which were secured by the Academy of American Poets. 

The line “The future lives in our bodies: Poetry & Disability Justice” is from the poem “Femme Futures” by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.

Poetry Coalition members aim to demonstrate how poetry can inspire questions in their communities about disability justice and spark increased engagement with this important theme. Member organizations are committed to offering programming that is accessible and that includes disabled, neurodivergent, and d/Deaf poets and those of diverse racial, ethnic, and gender identities, backgrounds, and communities. 

All organizations and others interested are invited to create programs on this theme in 2022 and share their efforts using the hashtags #DisabilityJustice and #PoetryCoalition. For some additional resources to assist with programming, particularly in creating accessible programming, visit:

Here’s a look at some of the programs that will take place across the country this year: 

The Academy of American Poets, a national organization, will republish Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s “Femme Futures” in Poem-a-Day on Saturday, March 12 alongside a special digital anthology of work by disabled and d/Deaf poets curated by Piepzna-Samarasinha.

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers and the National Student Poets Program in New York City, New York will provide training for the Class of 2021 around incorporating disability justice into their community service work throughout the rest of their year as youth poetry ambassadors. They will be connected with the weekly, virtual poetry workshop series for Disabled youth, Numberless Dreams, which is co-presented by the YMCA’s Downtown Writers Center, Syracuse University’s Burton Blatt Institute, and Nine Mile Magazine. The Class of 2021 will shadow one or two of the workshops led by Disabled instructors for Disabled youth in the Numberless Dreams series, followed by a discussion of implementing disability justice in a poetry workshop setting with Numberless Dreams instructors. The project will conclude with a virtual poetry discussion and slam that brings together the National Student Poets and the Numberless Dreams workshop participants.

Disability justice work honors, imagines, and fights for a future that is viable for us all. What does this future look like, and what role does literature and writing play in its arrival? Situated in ongoing efforts to standardize accessibility practices, this spring the Asian American Writers’ Workshop in New York City, New York will publish a series of conversations in their digital magazine, The Margins, to discuss these questions with writers and activists. In the summer, they will offer a virtual workshop for disabled, queer, trans, and BIPOC poets, creating a space to translate these questions into their own creative practices. 

Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, California will present two virtual programs dedicated to “The Future Lives in Our Bodies: Poetry & Disability Justice.” On Thursday, March 17, Beyond Baroque will partner with the Los Angeles Spoonie Collective to lead and curate a virtual panel discussion with Los Angeles community & arts organizations and disability justice advocates from Tierra del Sol, DSTL Arts, and the Disability Community Resource Center. The panel will focus on the importance of personal storytelling through poetry/spoken word, zine- making, and the arts; on collectively envisioning a liberated future for disabled/chronically ill/mad/neurodivergent folks; and on identifying avenues of healing through narrative medicine and storytelling during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A second program will be held virtually on Sunday, March 20, and will feature a virtual poetry reading and open mic with authors Kyle Johnson, Joshua Corwin, and the 2021-2022 L.A. youth poet laureate, Jessica Kim. 

On March 30 at 7 p.m. ET, CantoMundo, a national organization, will present “Right here in our bodies: Latinx Poetry & Disability Justice,” a virtual reading and conversation with Sheryl Luna, Jasminne Mendez, ire'ne lara silva, and Urayoán Noel. This event is co-hosted by the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University and is free to attend with registration.

Cave Canem in New York City, New York and Zoeglossia, a national literary organization seeking to pioneer a new, inclusive space for poets with disabilities, invite you to join Raymond Antrobus, Khadijah Queen, and L. Lamar Wilson for a discussion on how poets of color work within and without that framework, including readings from the poets. This virtual panel is presented as part of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference & Bookfair on March 26. Adapted from Patty Berne’s “Disability Justice—A Working Draft,” a disability justice framework understands that: all bodies are unique and essential; all bodies have strengths and needs that must be met; we are powerful, not despite the complexities of our bodies, but because of them; and all bodies are confined by ability, race, gender, sexuality, class, nation-state, religion, and more, and we cannot separate them. Disability justice holds a vision born out of collective struggle, drawing upon legacies of cultural and spiritual resistance.

Indigenous Nations’ Poets (In-Na-Po) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is partnering with Abalone Mountain Press in Phoenix, Arizona to create an Indigeneity and Disability Justice Zine. Indigenous writers and artists address the question, “What does disability look like in Indigenous communities?” The zine, which will be released in both print and digital versions in April 2022, will be available on both organizations’ websites. Contributors will take part in a virtual launch. 

Kundiman, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature, will present a free virtual workshop, their annual Postcard Project, and weekly quotes on their social media featuring disability justice writers and activists. The workshop, "Poetics of Disability Justice," led by writers and activists Em Dial and Laurel Chen, will center Disabled experiences and is open to all writers of color, with a priority towards Disabled, mad, crip, sick, and/or ill folks. Throughout the month of March, Kundiman Fellows and the community are also invited to participate in a Postcard Poem Project, involving writing and mailing postcard poems focused on the disability justice theme. Weekly curated quotes from disability justice literature will also be featured on the Kundiman website and social media. 

Lambda Literary in New York City, New York, and Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin will partner to host a virtual poetry reading and conversation on Sunday, March 13 at 6 p.m. ET. This pre-recorded program will feature readings by Meg Day, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and Travis Chi Wing Lau, who will also host and moderate. The readings will be followed by a discussion among presenting artists on the topic of Poetry & Disability Justice. A chapbook with poems by each participant will be designed and printed by pitymilk press, and made available by mail to all who tune in live on March 13.

On March 29 at 6 p.m. ET, Letras Latinas, the literary initiative at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, in collaboration with The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland will co-present “Atlas: Skin/Bone/Blood – Bodymaps in Brown and Black,” a virtual poetry reading and panel discussion featuring Diannely Antigua, Jimena Lucero, Aurora Levins Morales, and Naomi Ortíz. The event will be convened and moderated by heidi andrea restrepo rhodes. Free, open to the public, with closed-captioning provided.

Mass Poetry in Boston, Massachusetts will explore the important topic of disability justice by reassessing organizational policies and programming practices to ensure all their spaces—from office to classroom, from live events to Zoom readings—are inclusive. They will publish an electronic folio curated by and featuring disabled poets as part of the “Hard Work of Hope” poetry series. Mass Poetry will host a multimedia performance at GrubStreet’s Center for Creative Writing, spotlighting disabled poets, artists, activists, and performers. This event will include creative calls for action, encouraging attendees to join the fight in making the future inclusive and accessible for all.

O, Miami in Miami, Florida is collaborating with educator for the visually impaired, Ashlee Partin, to present, “Brl Odes,” a project that creates public placards featuring poems by Miamians translated into braille. Each poem, selected for how it features nonvisual sensory experiences, is displayed on the placards in both print and Unified English Braille Code. The placards will be placed in the Miami Lighthouse Academy for the Blind and in public parks in Miami-Dade County. By using the voices of the community and transcribing their words into braille, the project invites the public to learn more about the braille code and engage with the concept of access, inclusion, and universal design in their neighborhood.

On March 5 at 3 p.m. PT, the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University, in collaboration with the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability, will present Krip-Hop Nation, an event featuring Toni Hickman, Keith Jones, Leroy F. Moore Jr., DJ Quad, and Wheelchair Sports Camp. Krip-Hop Nation is a worldwide association of artists with disabilities. Founded in 2007 by Leroy F. Moore Jr. in Berkeley, California, the Movement campaigns for equality for people with disabilities worldwide with concerts, tours, workshops and much more. ASL and CART will be provided.

The Poetry Foundation in Chicago, Illinois will present “To Turn The World Around”: For Audre Lorde and Pat Parker, a poetry reading and moderated discussion with Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Indira Allegra, and Mecca Jamilah Sullivan. The event will honor the legacies of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker and their relationship as a form of access intimacy. How can we recuperate their disabled poetics within the intersectional contexts of their Blackness, queerness, and feminism? 

On May 25 at 8 p.m. ET, the Poetry Project in New York City, New York, in collaboration with Unrestricted Interest, will present a celebration of Hannah Emerson's debut collection of poems, The Kissing of Kissing. Emerson, a nonspeaking autistic poet, will be joined by Chris Martin and Farnoosh Fathi, two poets who will read her work in chorus, and Tyler Rai, a movement-based artist who will collaborate with Hannah on choreography to accompany the reading. A conversation about art-making practices will follow the performances.

Through its Poems on Wheels program, the Poetry Society of America in New York City, New York will print and distribute 30,000 copies of a poem by Larry Eigner this spring to Meals on Wheels clients in New York, Baltimore, San Antonio, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon. This project honors an important disabled artist while also serving a large and often neglected reading community. Born with cerebral palsy, Eigner became a leading American poet, publishing more than 40 books over a period of four decades. Poems on Wheels, a partnership with Meals on Wheels chapters around the country, delivers poems along with nourishing meals to seniors who are homebound due to illness, age, or disability. 

The University of Arizona Poetry Center will present a new poem by Khadijah Queen, “Late Diagnosis Starting with a Tweet,” in a variety of formats: an ASL interpretation, a CART-captioned animation, and braille and large print broadsides. They will also unveil Voca, their audiovisual archive of nearly 1,000 recordings of poets from 1963 to today, newly redesigned with a focus on accessibility and captioning. With Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding, the redesigned Voca archive will be the largest freely-accessible, fully-captioned audiovisual poetry archive. Learn more at

Urban Word and the National Youth Poet Laureate Program in New York City, New York have presented original poems by the National Youth Poet Laureate Finalists to address disability justice, with lines that will be featured on original artwork/collage by Mer Young. These Youth Poets Laureate will also perform these poems at the National Youth Poet Laureate Commencement at the Kennedy Center on May 20.

Throughout March, the Wick Poetry Center in Kent, Ohio will host a series of community workshops and discussions centered on the poetry of Peter Cook, an internationally-renowned Deaf performing artist whose work incorporates American Sign Language, pantomime, storytelling, acting, and movement. Cook’s poetry and efforts with the Flying Words Project explore the intersection of poetry and disability justice and expand ideas about what poetry is and who it belongs to. Participants anywhere will be able to contribute video or text to an interactive online community poem entitled “Open Window: Poetry & Disability Justice.” This monthlong creative conversation will culminate with an in-person performance and workshop by Peter Cook and the Flying Words Project on the Kent State University campus on April 7 and 8. 

As part of their monthly Under 21 Open Mic series, Youth Speaks in San Francisco, California will dedicate its Friday, May 13 show to disability justice. The event will center young Bay Area writers and performers and feature a local champion for disability justice. This event is open to all participants age 21 and under.

About the Academy of American Poets

Founded in 1934, the Academy of American Poets is the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry with supporters in all fifty states. The organization annually awards more funds to individual poets than any other organization through its prize program, giving a total of $1.25 million to more than 200 poets at various stages of their careers. The organization also produces, the world’s largest publicly-funded website for poets and poetry; organizes National Poetry Month; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides award-winning resources to K–12 educators, including the Teach This Poem series; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture.

About the Poetry Coalition

The Poetry Coalition is a national alliance of more than 25 organizations dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Members are nonprofit organizations whose primary mission is to promote poets and poetry, and/or multi-genre literary organizations that serve poets in the disability community and of specific racial, ethnic, or gender identities, backgrounds, or communities. All members present poets at live and virtual events. Each year, members present programming across the country on a theme of social importance. The Poetry Coalition is coordinated by the Academy of American Poets and is grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its support of this work.