Where to Submit Poems About the Body, Illness, and Disability?.

Stumped on where to submit your poems about the body, illness and disability? Look no further, we've got you covered!

Our experience of the world is mediated through our bodies, so when this precious cargo of ours moves through childbirth, illness, disability, etc., it’s likely to show up in our poetry. If you’ve been writing poems about your magnificent, fragile body, we’ve got exactly the submission list you need. We also interviewed editors-in-chief Taruni Tangirala of Réapparition Journal and Diane R. Wiener of Wordgathering to bring you some inspiration and submission tips.

Diane R. Wiener, Editor-in-Chief of Wordgathering

1. How or why was Wordgathering founded? 

From our website: “Wordgathering was founded in March 2007 by members of the Inglis House Poetry Workshop, a collaborative of writers with disabilities who reside at Inglis House in Philadelphia, PA. The workshop, established in 1998, met weekly, sharing and critiquing poetry for almost two decades. The collaborative worked to promote the writing of poets with disabilities through the annual Inglis House Poetry Contest and its chapbook productions. Michael Northen served as Editor-in-Chief from the journal’s founding in March 2007 until January 2020, when Diane R. Wiener assumed the role. (Michael and Diane co-edited the December 2019 issue.)” More details about Wordgathering can be found here: About Us – Wordgathering

2. What do you enjoy about your work as an editor? 

I enjoy and feel honored by encouraging new writers, artists, and other creatives, as well as by engaging with very experienced and what some folx might refer to as “seasoned” writers, artists, and creatives. Each day, I love working with and feel privileged to serve as a co-steward with our kind, brilliant, dedicated, and boldly innovative global editorial team, as well as my colleagues at Syracuse University, who work tirelessly behind the scenes to assure that the journal is engaging, accessible, and noteworthy. The conversations with would-be contributors and published writers, artists, and other creatives from across the planet are frequently profound and always meaningful. When a young, disabled poet or painter tells me or us that they feel happy to have a home for their work, there is a sense of purpose that is hard for me to “put into words,” even as a writer, myself.

3. What qualities do the poems you accept for publication possess? What kind of poems are most likely to catch your attention? 

Our Esteemed Poetry Editor, Emily K. Michael—along with the rest of our editorial team and I—are strongly supportive of innovation and readability, both broadly defined. We do not prefer and are disinclined to publish “inspiration porn”; instead, we seek to center work that underscores disability aesthetics in emergent and open ways.

4. What type of work would you like to see more of, whether thematically, formally, etc.? 

As noted in our description of the journal, “we unequivocally support and welcome the creative work of BIPOC, LGBTQIA2S+, young, elder, and working-class writers and artists.” Personally, I love the concept of #CripLit. In an ableist world, what do D/deaf, D/disabled, Crip, Mad, Chronically Ill, Spoonie, Sick, and Neurodivergent (including Autistic) writers and creative artists have to offer? My answer: An abundance of ideas, critiques, opportunities, and creativity. Personally, I love what is sometimes termed avant-garde writing and art that are at turns other-worldly and existential. I likewise enjoy a great, “traditional” quatrain or sestina, as well as haibun, haiku, and outside-the-box sonnets.

5. What are some of your favorite poems or poets? 

I was worried that you were going to ask me that (hahaha). Among my many “go-to” poets are (in no way ranked or listed hierarchically): Audre Lorde, Gwendolyn Brooks, Adrienne Rich, Walt Whitman, e. e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Muriel Rukeyser, Joy Harjo, Chrystos, Allen Ginsberg, T. S. Eliot, Mary Oliver, Margaret Atwood, Mark Strand, DaMaris B. Hill, Jane Hirshfield, Khairani Barokka, David James (“DJ”) Savarese, Kenny Fries, Jim Ferris, Travis Chi Wing Lau, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Ona Gritz, Dan Simpson, Emily K. Michael, Sean J. Mahoney, Steve Kuusisto, The Cyborg Jillian Weise, Nathan Spoon, Chris Costello, Kara Dorris, Cyrus Cassells, Carolyn ForchéSandra Alland, June Jordan, W. H. Auden, Camisha Jones, Marge Piercy, Charles Simic, Mary Youmans, Barbara Guest, Clark A. Pomerleau, Joan Fallert, Stanley Kunitz, Maxine Kumin, Randall Jarrell, Elizabeth Anne Socolow, W. S. Merwin, Jackie Warren-Moore, John Berryman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Elizabeth Bishop, Georgia Popoff, Phil Memmer, Marvin Bell, Bob Herz, Sheila Black, Connie Voisine, Pentti Saarikoski, Ada Limón,Tomas Tranströmer, Wallace Stevens, James Tate, Edgar Allen Poe, Pablo Neruda, John Lee Clark, Thomas Townsley, E. J. Evans, Dylan Krieger, Jane Joritz-Nakagawa, Nick Racheotes, Dylan Thomas, Laurie Clements Lambeth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Meg Kearney, torrin a. greathouse, Taylor Brorby, Hafiz, Arthur Rimbaud, Ilya Kaminsky, William Carlos Williams, Sappho, Rainer Maria Rilke, Shelley, Yeats, and too many others to count.

6. What other literary journals do you enjoy reading? 

Breath & Shadow, The Deaf Poets Society, Monstering, Sick, Granta, The Believer, Wrongdoing, A Coup of Owls, Foglifter . . . again, too many to count.

7. Where should poets send their submissions? 

Submission guidelines and details can be found, here: Submission Guidelines – Wordgathering

8. If someone has a question, how can they contact you?


Taruni Tangirala, Editor-in-Chief of Réapparition Journal

1. How or why was Réapparition Journal founded?

Réapparition Journal is different from the average literary journal in that it has a very niche focus, namely, chronic illness. Often, people with chronic/mental illness are discriminated against, or their voices are underrepresented. This journal is meant to be a space to break down all stereotypes of chronic illness and provide the common person with a better understanding of experiences with illness through creative writing. That’s not to say that we only publish people with chronic illnesses–– we’re open to publishing anyone who has something substantial to say on the topic.

2. What do you enjoy about your work as an editor?

I love reading the submissions that we get; the brilliance of some of these writers is truly outstanding. As an editor, I also think that it’s a given that when you look at a high-merit piece, you feel proud and elated that you’re the one who’s giving it a home. There are so many amazing pieces out there and not enough places to house them, so the work we do is incredibly gratifying when we are able to give a great piece a chance.

3. What qualities do the poems you accept for publication possess? What kind of poems are most likely to catch your attention?

We want to brighten the narrative around chronic illness. That being said, we do publish pieces with darker themes, but we always make sure that they are appropriate for the average reader.

In terms of literary quality, we simply want originality, which is easier said than done, given a journal with a niche focus like ours. Some advice for writers who submit to journals with niche themes: don’t write pieces that you think a hundred people would have already written and submitted to the same journal. Be fresh, authentic, and try to see if you can depict a story in a way that has never been done before. We’ve received some really cool pieces in the past; for example, one was based on social media responses to a prompt, and we’ve definitely received several unique experimental pieces.

We also enjoy the deep, gut-wrenching types that really make you feel something. These types of pieces tend to have a certain precision with their language that can’t really be described–– it’s almost like a poem is empathizing with the reader, and not necessarily the other way around.

4. What type of work would you like to see more of, whether thematically, formally, etc.?

Something straightforward that writers tend to neglect (especially when mass-submitting) is that they forget to even read a bit about a journal and what it’s looking for before they submit. If a submission does not abide by our theme, we won’t consider it, and that’s a given for any other journal. Take the few seconds to actually read a bit about a journal before you submit–– it will yield any writer much better results.

For Réapparition specifically, we receive a lot of generic free verse (which we do enjoy), but we would love to see a greater variety of styles! We honestly just want to be surprised in a good way.

5. What are some of your favorite poems or poets?

There are far too many favorite poets, but if I had to pick a few: Louise Gluck, Jane Huffman, and Margaret Walker. My favorite poem as of right now would probably be “In Childhood” by Kimiko Hahn.

6. What other literary journals do you enjoy reading?

I love reading Ploughshares, Bellevue Literary Journal, the Louisville Review, and others.

7. Where should poets send their submissions?

You can find our submission guidelines at: https://www.reapparitionjournal.org/submit 

8. If someone has a question, how can they contact you?

You can fill out the form at: https://www.reapparitionjournal.org/contact-2. Alternatively, you can shoot us an email: info@reapparitionjournal.org

List of Journals that Publish Work about the Body, Illness, and Disability



Bellevue Literary Review

Blanket Sea

Breath & Shadow

Chronically Lit

The Healing Muse

Hospital Drive


Monstering Magazine

Rogue Agent


SICK Magazine

Ripe Literary Journal

Transition Magazine

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