We are not often in a room together. And we are already a powerful, innovative collective because we are disabled and D/deaf. We welcome any disability into this room—this virtual space—and so we include D/deaf, Blind, DeafBlind people; physical or cognitive or invisible or intellectual or psychiatric disability; people who are Autistic, Mad, Sick or people who identify with neurodivergence, chronic illness. We also recognize that some of us have multiple disabilities. Into this room, we welcome you.
Often, we are around nondisabled and hearing people, which means we must consider their needs in relation to ours. But this week, we will forget about them and centre our desires as poets, namers and culture changers.
What happens when disabled and D/deaf people are in the same room? When we become the ideal audience? How does that shift charge and transform the poems? What does it mean to write for and with each other? What limits on our imagination are placed on us by nondisabled people? And how do we dismiss those limits to imagine “new suns,” as disabled writer Octavia Butler calls it? If we need not imagine work-arounds to access, exclusion, and editorial ableism, then what? What do we want?
During this, the first poetry course run by Arvon tutored by, and for, D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse poets, we will create a safe space to generate new work (lots of it!) and explore the poetics of disability. Engaging and sharing poems by disabled poets, this week is for anyone who wants to write back to the ableist culture we’ve found ourselves in.
We’ll help you to make ‘Arvon at Home’, turning your own place into a writing cocoon, capturing the transformative power of our acclaimed Arvon residential courses: two brilliant author-tutors at your service, a caring and sharing group, the time and space to devote to your writing, invaluable feedback, new writing pals, and the unique creative progress that happens in a dedicated week.
You will be offered the best of a classic Arvon residential week, with a few virtual tweaks. Spot the difference: a carefully balanced combination of tips to help you focus, daily workshops, one-to-one tutorials with both tutors, three evening get-togethers to chat about the day’s work, a mid-week guest reading offer, the celebratory Friday-evening collective reading, and lots of time and encouragement for you to write every day. You will receive a free ticket to our Wednesday evening Live Guest Reading.
All gatherings, one-to-one or group, will be delivered via our own Arvon Zoom, so you’ll need to have a reliable internet connection. Your Arvon Centre host will be on call to offer support as you need it, including any help you may need with your computer set-up.
To participate, and to get the most out of the week, you’ll need to turn up online for all planned sessions, Monday to Friday. We also urge you to read your tutors’ published work before the week starts.
Please note, this week will be timetabled so that it can be attended by poets in both the UK and the US and will include relaxed evening events (19.00 GMT). Jillian and Raymond are currently finalising the timetable and participants will be updated as soon as possible.
Raymond Antrobus is a Hackney-born British Jamaican poet, educator, editor and curator of the Chill Pill event series. His pamphlet, To Sweeten Bitter (2017), is published by Out-Spoken Press and debut collection The Perseverance was the winner of the Ted Hughes Award in 2018. He is a Complete Works III fellow and one of the world’s first recipients of an MA in Spoken Word education (Goldsmiths, University of London). He is also one of three current recipients of the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship. His poem, ‘Sound Machine’, first published in The Poetry Review, 107:1, Spring 2017, was the winner of the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2017, judged by Ocean Vuong. In 2019 he became the first ever poet to be awarded the Rathbone Folio Prize for best work of literature in any genre.
The Cyborg Jillian Weise is a poet, performance artist and disability rights activist. Cy’s first book, The Amputee’s Guide to Sex, was reissued in a 10th anniversary edition with a new preface. The Book of Goodbyes won the 2013 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Cy’s speculative novel, The Colony, features Darwin, James Watson and Peter Singer. Cy’s fourth book is Cyborg Detective (BOA, 2019). Weise’s essays have appeared in A Public Space, Granta, The New York Times and Tin House. Cy has been awarded residencies from the Fine Arts Work Center, the Fulbright Program and the Lannan Foundation. Cy worked in editorial at The Paris Review and The Iowa Review. This fall the disabled publisher Su Zi/Red Mare Press put out her chapbook Give It to Alfie Tonight. And she produced the short film A Kim Deal Party which features Eileen Myles, Patricia Lockwood and Alice Wong. Jillian recently won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Cyborg Detective.
Cost: £280 This course is subsidised (full cost £375) as part of our commitment to widening access to participation. Additional grants are also available for those on reduced incomes
Access: The week will be captioned via Otter:ai and workshops and evening readings will have live BSL interpretation.
This course is tutored by, and for, D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse poets.
If you have any questions about how the week works, would like to discuss further access needs or are on a low income and would like to apply for a grant to reduce the course fee please contact firstname.lastname@example.org