Join us for a series of online creative writing workshops, especially for teens with disabilities, taught by professional writers who are themselves disabled. We're partnering with the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University and Nine Mile Press for these workshops, accessible via Zoom.
This program is made possible with the support of the Gifford Foundation, Onondaga County, and CNY Arts.
Read more about William's Story and the Numberless Dreams program here.
Poetry In Our Lives
Available Fall Sessions 1 & 2
Poetry in Our Lives is a weekly workshop for those with a love of poetry and interest in creative self-expression. Participants will discover poetry by noted published writers, with a focus on poets with disabilities, write together responding to common themes and prompts, and share work with colleagues in a supportive, collaborative setting. Instructors Ona Gritz, Laurie Clements Lambeth, Daniel Simpson, and Georgia A. Popoff guide the way as students develop their talents and knowledge of the art and craft of poetry and writing in general.
Creative Nonfiction: Writing Your Own Story
Available Fall Session 2
Join disabled memoirist and essayist Stephen Kuusisto to explore the art of writing personal stories. Kuusisto writes: “As a blind person I’ve found that writing my own story offers me freedom. My disabled life is my life and I can tell it with my own language.” The aim of this online class is to make it possible for folks with disabilities to feel the power of sharing their experiences in their own language.
About the Program
Is your teen fired up about writing? We want them to join us in Numberless Dreams!
Numberless Dreams is a unique new series of online creative writing workshops specifically geared towards teens with disabilities. The writing instructors for this program are not only all professional, published authors—they are themselves members of the disabled community, ensuring that your teen will receive not only knowledge but support and understanding.
Each week, we will meet on Zoom to engage in writing exercises, learn the tools of the trade, and share and respectfully critique student work. Although the exercises may be from any literary genre, students will be able to work in the genre of their choice (poetry, fiction, and nonfiction) are all welcome. All Zoom sessions will include captioning, and where needed, instructors will describe visual images in text. The chat function is utilized throughout the sessions to facilitate our discussions and share work.
Due to the generous support of our funders, this program is free for all registered students. The only things students will need to participate is an internet-ready device capable of accessing Zoom, and a passion for writing and learning. Because we are meeting online, there is no geographical barrier to participation: this program is open to youth from any location. Students are required to attend regularly, although we do understand there are times when family or other commitments must take precedence. Consistent absences, however, may result in a request for the student to withdraw from the program.
In the future, Nine Mile Magazine will publish an anthology of student work, including poetry and prose by program participants. Selections of students’ work will also appear in upcoming issues of Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature.
About our Teaching Writers
Ona Gritz is the author of the poetry collection Geode, a finalist for the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and On the Whole: a Story of Mothering and Disability, a memoir that Paige Bennett of Blogher says, “reads like poetry” and “should be required reading for all new moms.” Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian,The Utne Reader, MORE magazine, Ploughshares, The Bellevue Literary Review, Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, and many other journals and anthologies. Ona’s essay, “It’s Time,” which appeared in the Rumpus, was named a Notable Essay in Best American Essays, 2016. Ona has also written two children’s books, including Tangerines and Tea, My Grandparents and Me, which Nick Jr. Family Magazine named Best Alphabet Book of the year, and Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine named one of six Best Books for 2005 and included in their list of Teacher’s Picks.
Stephen Kuusisto, who has been blind since birth, is the author of Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and the acclaimed memoir Planet of the Blind, a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”. He has also published two books of poems, Only Bread, Only Light and Letters to Borges. Recognized by the New York Times as “a powerful writer with a musical ear for language and a gift for emotional candor,” Steve has made numerous appearances on programs including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline NBC, National Public Radio and the BBC. His most recent memoir is Have Dog, Will Travel, and his newest book of poems will be published in fall 2020 by Tiger Bark Press.
Daniel Simpson is the author of the poetry collection School for the Blind, published in 2014 by Poets Wear Prada. His work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Cortland Review, Beauty Is A Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, The New York Times, and elsewhere. The recipient of a Fellowship in Literature from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, he served, along with his wife Ona Gritz, as Poetry Editor for Referential Magazine, an online literary journal, from 2013 to 2016. He also co-authored, with Ona Gritz, the poetry collection Border Songs, a Conversation in Poems.
Laurie Lambeth earned a BA from Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles and an MFA and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Houston. Lambeth is the author of the National Poetry Series selection Veil and Burn (University of Illinois Press, 2008). She teaches English at the Honors College at the University of Houston.
Georgia Popoff's most recent collection of poetry, Psychometry, was released in 2019 by Tiger Bark Press. An editor and book coaching consultant, she is also the DWC’s workshops coordinator. Georgia is Onondaga County's first living Poet Laureate.
The Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University reaches around the globe in its efforts to advance the civic, economic, and social participation of people with disabilities. BBI builds on the legacy of Burton Blatt, former dean of SU’s School of Education and a pioneering disability rights scholar, to better the lives of people with disabilities. BBI has offices in Syracuse, NY, New York City, Washington, D.C., Lexington, KY, and Atlanta, GA.
Given the strong ties between one’s ability to earn income and fully participate in their communities, BBI’s work focuses on two interconnected Innovation Areas: Economic Participation and Community Participation. Through program development, research, and public policy guidance in these Innovation Areas, BBI advances the full inclusion of people with disabilities.
Nine Mile publishes twice yearly, showcasing authors whose work, energy, and vision seem strike the editors as the most deeply entangled with life. The magazine’s title comes from Nine Mile Creek, a 25-mile long waterway formed 14,000 years ago by glaciers in upstate New York. Like its namesake, Nine Mile is varied and surprising, with different writings coming together to form a cohesive whole.
Nine Mile’s purpose is to bring great writing—and great talk about writing—to readers, without consideration of school, style, or form, but with a special focus on Central New York. This includes writers within and outside the mainstream, writers with disabilities, writers of color, writers with marginalized genders and sexual orientations, and writers from different cultures and religions. The magazine is produced in inclusive and accessible formats.