Get Published, Win Cash in a Writing Contest for People with Disabilities

Photo of Andrea Kelton.

That’s the award-winning Andrea. Photo courtesy Darlene Schweitzer.

In addition to my job moderating this blog for Easterseals National, I also lead four different memoir-writing classes every week for senior citizens here in Chicago. Some writers in the memoir-writing classes I lead have had their memoirs published, but none has ever won an award (with a cash prize, no less!) for their writing…until now.

A poem Andrea Kelton wrote has been awarded a cash prize for second place in the Magnets and Ladders poetry contest! Andrea’s poem What a Feeling will be published in the Magnets and Ladders Spring/Summer 2017 edition along with a memoir called Water Balloons that she wrote for class.

Magnets and Ladders publishes writing by people with disabilities, and their submission guidelines are pretty clear:

  • Writers with disabilities may submit up to three selections per issue;
  • Writers must disclose their disability in their biography or in their work;
  • Poetry maximum length is 50 lines;
  • Memoir, fiction, and nonfiction maximum length is 2,500 words;
  • Single-space all submissions;
  • Use a blank line to separate paragraphs and stanzas;
  • Spell check and proofread all entries.

Previously published material and simultaneous submissions are permitted provided you own the copyright to the work, and Magnets and Ladders staff asks that you cite previous publisher and/or notify them if work has been accepted elsewhere.

So back to Andrea. A visual artist, Andrea Kelton was running a pottery workshop for children in 2005 when she first enrolled in our “Me, Myself and I” class sponsored by the City of Chicago’s Department on Aging. I couldn’t see the low vision magnifying reading glasses she used to wear to read her essays in class. It wasn’t until she read an essay about losing a job after being diagnosed with an eye condition in her twenties that I realized she can’t see well: Andrea has uveitis.

In 2009, glaucoma started setting in as well, leaving Andrea unable to read print. Like so, so many other writers in the classes I lead, Andrea did not give up. She learned to use an audio and magnifying computer program called Zoom Text to write and edit her pieces at home, and when it’s her turn to read in class, she passes a print copy to Wanda (a writer who was diagnosed with a severe hearing loss when she was young) and Wanda reads the piece aloud. It’s the deaf leading the blind!

Magnets and Ladders is an online magazine with a tag line that says it all: Active Voices of Writers with Disabilities. The submission guidelines make it clear the magazine “does not feature advocacy, activist, how-to, or what’s new articles regarding disabilities” and prefers poetry, memoir, fiction and non-fiction.

You can read the magazine or sign up for the email edition by visiting the Magnets and Ladders website. The deadline for the Spring/Summer issue is over already, but you have plenty of time to write before the August 15 deadline for the Fall/Winter issue. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a sneak preview of Andrea Kelton’s prize-winning poem here. Congratulations, Andrea.

What a Feeling!
By Andrea Kelton

The easel
Holds a painting
Featuring a free-form tree
Under an explosive yellow sun.

The artist
Brush in hand
Stands back
Admiring her masterpiece.

Satisfaction bubbles
Then
Glee gushes and rushes
Through her four-year-old body.

Andrea glows with wonder
At this treasure she’s created.

Emotions explode
As she discovers
That
Doing art
Creates bliss.


 

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