Talking With the Editor of Criptiques, an Exciting New Disability Anthology

You might know Caitlin Wood from Where’s Lulu, her Bitch blog series Tales from the Crip, or her hilarious tongue-in-cheek disability PSA, “Your Daily Dose of Inspiration.” Now, Wood is putting together Criptiques, a new anthology of disabled writers. You can pre-order the book on Kickstarter (they’re already halfway to their goal!) and, in the meantime, I asked Wood a few questions about the project. Read on to see why this book is so necessary, and why you should get behind it.

A picture of Cailtlin Wood, a young wheelchair-using women outside on a downtown street.

When did the idea for Criptiques come about? What prompted it?
CAITLIN WOOD: Mostly it sprang from knowing so many disabled artists and activists, admiring their work, and feeling frustrated that they weren’t getting the attention they deserve! I wanted to create a space to highlight all these amazing voices in one convenient location and an anthology seemed like a good place to start. Plus, there just aren’t that many books examining disability from a radical perspective being published right now. There’s plenty of disabled people writing about it online but not many with book deals. I wanted to be able to open a book about my community and culture and actually see our experiences represented in our own words. 

What sets this book apart from other anthologies on disability?  For starters, there just aren’t that many anthologies on disability currently being published. There’s a need for them and an audience looking for them, but they’re not that common. The disability anthologies I have are comprised mostly of academic writers—I’m grateful they exist, but I wanted to highlight writers who don’t necessarily have those connections. Additionally, I wanted a space to shine a light on disability culture and more radical disability perspectives than what you see in mainstream media.

When it came to submissions, what were you looking for? 
Anything that defied stereotypes, challenged ableism, or looked at intersecting oppressions of having multiple identities. When most people hear “disability,” the go-to image is “straight white guy in a wheelchair,” so I wanted to make sure this book presented a broader, more accurate portrayal of disability. I was really delighted to include Kay Ulanday Barrett and Lydia Brown in the book because they’re both brilliant and write beautifully on those intersections. Essays that illuminated crip culture or gave insight into the disability art world were also a priority, just because it’s so rich and diverse and many nondisabled people don’t know it exists. Elsa S. Henry who runs the Feminist Sonar site has a wonderful essay about being a blind burlesque performer, and Cheryl Green, who’s a filmmaker and blogger with a Traumatic Brain Injury wrote a fantastic piece on disability culture that I loved. I also wanted to make sure to avoid including any writing depicting disability as “inspirational,” or something in need of “overcoming.” That’s such a pervasive, insidious convention in media and culture and I wanted it nowhere near this book.

Why should nondisabled people get behind Criptiques?
There’s a million reasons. First off, the book is really interesting, regardless of your disability status—you don’t have to be disabled to read this or support it. I really want nondisabled people to read it because they need to! There’s so many misconceptions about disability—people who have never experienced it or don’t have any disabled friends or family tend to find the reality/normalcy of our lives pretty shocking. And a lot of people have failed to connect the dots that disabled people are an oppressed, social group. They have no idea how deeply entrenched ableism is in our culture. And this extends to activist and feminist circles. So I think Criptiques goes a long way in helping to make that reality visible for people, because the writers are speaking from their own experiences. They can give you that perspective that is so often ignored. Just like how I expect allies to educate themselves on racism, sexism, queerphobia, transphobia, etc., I also expect nondisabled alliles to educate themselves on ableism and issues affecting people with disabilities and recognize how these oppressions are interconnected. And a fun method of doing that is by supporting this book. 

 For a $25 donation, you get a copy of the book—sounds like a deal! For more info, check out the video below. 


by Kjerstin Johnson
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Kjerstin Johnson is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She is the former editor in chief of Bitch. She tweets at @kajerstin

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