Latest Reviews and Events

Last May, co-editor Khairani Barokka led an exciting disabled POC event, ‘(Em)Bodying Lit: D/deaf and Disabled Poetics’ at Bare Lit Festival in London, featuring work by contributors Raisa Kabir, Mark Mace Smith, Kuli Kohli and Bea Webster.

Our most recent review (in text and audio) comes from Deaf Poets Society’s September 2018 edition, courtesy of Robin M Eames:

‘There is a great deal of emerging talent in the pages of this anthology, and it is deeply refreshing to be introduced to so many bright new poets, each with unique and distinct voices, yet somehow still flowing together into a cohesive collection.’

For more reviews, check out What the Critics Say.


Link to Order or Get More Info About Stairs and Whispers (Nine Arches Press):

Link to Captioned BSL Video Info:

Link to Audio Information:


2018 News and Upcoming Event!

shorlist laurels SAW Sab


1. Stairs and Whispers has been shortlisted for Best Anthology in the Saboteur Awards!

To vote for us, please go to You can vote in as many or as few categories as you want. Thanks to all who worked on the book, all who voted, and all who will vote! There’s lots of great stuff on the list; we’re super-proud to be in such company.

Here’s why one voter thinks we should win:

“Stairs and Whispers isn’t just a collection of deeply moving, powerful work, but a historic moment in poetry in these islands. The editors have made a book to be proud of.”

2. Stairs and Whispers was also a Poetry School and Morning Star 2017 Book of the Year!

For recent reviews, go to ‘What the Critics Say’


Upcoming Event:
‘(Em)Bodying Lit – D/deaf and Disabled Poetics’, Stairs and Whispers @ Bare Lit Festival
Sunday, 27 May, 10:00 – 11:30a.m., London

SAW co-editor Khairani Barokka hosts this exciting event featuring readings and a discussion with her and contributors Mark Mace Smith, Kuli Kohli and Raisa Kabir! Plus, we’ll screen ‘Long Lost Lover’, a film of Bea Webster’s poem in BSL and English (by Sandra Alland and Ania Urbanowska).

ACCESS INFO: Level access, quiet space, and carer & reduced tickets available for the entire festival. BSL interpreting for this event. Film in BSL with English captions and some audio description. For more information and tickets:


Link to Order or Get More Info About Stairs and Whispers (Nine Arches Press):

Link to Captioned BSL Video Info:

Link to Audio Information:

Stairs and Whispers reviews, upcoming events & interviews!


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After successful launches and events at Birmingham University, Ledbury Poetry Festival and Last Word (Roundhouse), the UK’s first major anthology of D/deaf and disabled poets arrives in Edinburgh on 27th September and London on 9th November! We have also recently been featured in Wordgathering (link), Lunar Poetry Podcasts (link) and Dave Poems (link).

Order Stairs and Whispers here. Captioned BSL Video about the book here.

1. Wordgathering
ACCESS INFO: Text-based, online.This month’s issue of Wordgathering features a review by Sheila Black, and an interview by Mike Northen of Sandra Alland, Khairani Barokka and Daniel Sluman.
Review Link:
Interview Link:

2. Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton’s Close, Edinburgh EH8 8DT
Wednesday September 27th, 6.30pm-9:00pm
ACCESS INFO: captioned films; projected text of poems; BSL interpreting by K. Yvonne Strain and Catherine King; BSL content; step-free access via lifts; gender-neutral accessible toilet; some audio description, quiet space.The event will feature readings, performances and films from co-editors Sandra Alland and Khairani Barokka, plus contributors Bea Webster (BSL), Claire Cunningham, Donna Williams, Emily Ingram, Gary Austin Quinn (BSL, with Kyra Pollitt and Christine De Luca), Mark Mace Smith, Markie Burnhope, Nuala Watt and Sarah Golightley. Tickets £3/£4 here:

3. ‘Disability and Diversity’, The Complete Works Diversity in UK Poetry Conference, Goldsmiths, Dixon Rd, London SE14 6YZ
Thursday November 9th, 12.30pm-1:15pm
ACCESS INFO: captioned film; projected text of poems; BSL interpreting; BSL content; step-free access via lifts; gender-neutral accessible toilet; some audio description. This event will feature readings and performances by Khairani Barokka, Miss Jacqui and Saradha Soobrayen. Also featururing a screening of a short film of British Sign Language poetry by Bea Webster. [Plus more from Khairani Barokka at 3:40pm on a panel talking ‘Disability, art and poetics: process and practice.’]

For bookings, e-mail with ‘Conference booking’ in the heading. More info: Travel info:

4. Lunar Poetry Podcasts
ACCESS INFO: Text based blog, audio recording with transcript available for download.Khairani Barokka is joined by poets Sandra Alland, Raymond Antrobus and Giles L. Turnbull for a discussion about access to publishing in the UK.Link:

5. Dave PoemsACCESS INFO: Text-based blog.Dave interviews co-editors Khairani Barokka, Sandra Alland and Daniel Sluman.Link:


Film still from Goat Poem (for the kids) by Mark Mace Smith. The image is of a dirt road in Majorca, with green grass and leafless shrubbery on either side. The road leads off into the fog. On the left side of the road is a goat. Along the road and facing away from the camera are three versions of the same figure – wearing all black. The closest version of the figure stands facing slightly to the left, and the other two walk away from the camera along the road. The middle version of the figure is accompanied, on the right-hand side, by a second goat (which is actually the same goat). The words ‘by all means necessary’ appear in white font over the centre of the image.

Stairs and Whispers now available, plus event info!


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Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back is a new anthology edited by Sandra Alland, Khairani Barokka and Daniel Sluman.

Order now from Nine Arches Press (in print May 30th).

Events include:
May 31st – Roundhouse, London
June 3rd – Birmingham University
July 8th – Ledbury Poetry Festival
Access info: All events have BSL interpreting, BSL content, captioned films, some audio description and level access.

[BSL info with captions]

Packed with fierce poetry, essays, photos and links to accessible online videos and audio recordings, Stairs and Whispers showcases a diversity of opinions and survival strategies for an ableist world. With contributions that span Vispo to Surrealism, and range from hard-hitting political commentary to intimate lyrical pieces, these poets refuse to perform or inspire according to tired, old narratives.

“This is a collection which redefines what poetry is. This is a collection which is nearly as varied as the diversity of impairment and disability and D/deaf experiences in Britain today. This is a collection which I will read and re-read until I have absorbed the richness and colour and anger and misery and humour and power of it.”
Tom Shakespeare, author,
Disability Rights and Wrongs

“The face of next-generation disability poetics announces itself with a roar – razor-fine lyric, body knowledge, crip humour and revolutionary grief are all on display, along with something more: the joy of the discovered self. The poems here are gorgeous and important.” Sheila Black, co-editor, Beauty is a Verb

Stairs and Whispers is an incredible addition to crip literature that I’m excited to add to my shelf! The poems and essays featured here are at once devastating, enraging, and uproarious for me as a queer neurodivergent writer of colour.”
Lydia X. Z. Brown, activist, writer and speaker

“Watching the new surge of Deaf poets take on the world of BSL, film and creative captioning feels very important … to reclaim the right to be a poet and to use both signed and written word to demonstrate the diversity and richness of the Deaf community … commenting on being Deaf, politics of identity and a celebration of who we are.”
Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director, Graeae Theatre

About the Editors:
Alland’s collections include
Blissful Times (BookThug, 2007) and Naturally Speaking (espresso, 2012). Barokka’s works include Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis, 2016) and Rope (Nine Arches, 2017). Sluman has two books with Nine Arches: Absence has a weight of its own (2012) and The Terrible (2015).

With poetry & prose by:
Aaron Williamson, Abi Palmer, Abigail Penny, Alec Finlay, Alison Smith, Andra Simons, Angela Readman, Bea Webster, Cath Nichols, Catherine Edmunds, Cathy Bryant, Claire Cunningham, Clare Hill, Colin Hambrook, Daniel Sluman, Debjani Chatterjee, Donna Williams, El Clarke, Eleanor Ward, Emily Ingram, Gary Austin Quinn, Georgi Gill, Giles L. Turnbull, Gram Joel Davies, Grant Tarbard, Holly Magill, Isha, Jackie Hagan, Jacqueline Pemberton, Joanne Limburg, Julie McNamara, Karen Hoy, Khairani Barokka, Kitty Coles, Kuli Kohli, Lisa Kelly, Lydia Popowich, Mark Mace Smith, Markie Burnhope, Michelle Green, Miki Byrne, Miss Jacqui,  Naomi Woddis, Nuala Watt, Rachael Boast, Raisa Kabir, Raymond Antrobus, Rosamund McCullain, Rose Cook, Sandra Alland, Saradha Soobrayen, Sarah Golightley, sean burn, Stephanie Conn

Pre-order Stairs and Whispers!

Dear Poets and Readers/Watchers/Listeners:

You can pre-order e-books or paperback copies of the upcoming Nine Arches Press anthology, Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back, as part of a Crowdfunder (the project is part-funded by Arts Council England but we need a bit more cash to make everything happen the way we dream).

The price is the same here as it will be when we launch in June: £15 hard copy & £10 e-book. There are other options too, including additional discounted books from Nine Arches. Plus free delivery in the UK, or £3 delivery worldwide!


More info on the anthology, edited by Daniel Sluman, Khairani Barokka and Sandra Alland, here.

Thanks for your support!

Announcing Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back


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Dear Poets and Readers/Watchers/Listeners:

Co-editors Sandra Alland, Khairani Barokka and Daniel Sluman have chosen a title for our forthcoming anthology of UK disabled and D/deaf poetry, essays and visuals with Nine Arches Press: Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back. We’re over the moon to announce that the print version and e-book will be available in May, with a celebratory launch in Birmingham in June.

All decisions for Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back have now been made, and all writers who submitted to the anthology should have received notification of the results of their submissions. If you have a query please contact us at


In addition to the print anthology, online we will feature audio recordings of many of the anthology’s poems (made by the poets themselves) and a curated programme of short films by D/deaf and disabled poets. The films include new British Sign Language performance poetry by Bea Webster and Donna Williams; they will appear as stills with links in the print/e-book anthology, and also be screened during selected Stairs and Whispers tour dates.

Stairs and Whispers includes poems and performances by over 50 new and established poets, short critical or personal writings by selected contributors, and essays by our three co-editors plus Raymond Antrobus, Abi Palmer, Eleanor Ward and Nuala Watt.

The print anthology features poems by:
Aaron Williamson
Abi Palmer
Abigail Penny
Alec Finlay
Andra Simons
Angela Readman
Cath Nichols
Catherine Edmunds
Cathy Bryant
Claire Cunningham
Clare Hill
Colin Hambrook
Debjani Chatterjee
El Clarke
Eleanor Ward
Emily Ingram
Georgi Gill
Giles L. Turnbull
Gram Joel Davies
Grant Tarbard
Holly Magill
Jacqueline Pemberton
Joanne Limburg
Julie McNamara
Karen Hoy
Khairani Barokka
Kitty Coles
Kuli Kohli
Lisa Kelly
Lydia Popowich
Markie Burnhope
Michelle Green
Miki Byrne
Naomi Woddis
Nuala Watt
Rachael Boast
Raisa Kabir
Raymond Antrobus
Rosamund McCullain
Rose Cook
Sandra Alland
Saradha Soobrayen
Sarah Golightley
Sean Burn
Stephanie Conn

For more information on how to purchase Stairs and Whispers, or for upcoming tour dates and online resources click here.

Funding & New Co-editor (Update on Anthology of UK Disabled & D/deaf Poets)

We are excited to let you know about a few exciting developments for the disabled and D/deaf poetry anthology forthcoming from Nine Arches Press. First of all, we have been successful in attaining some funding for the project from Arts Council England, and we can now guarantee that all poets who are accepted into the anthology or website will receive an honorarium. The book will launch in Spring 2017, and will include an ebook option and some online poetry films in BSL and/or with captions.

We are also welcoming a new co-editor to the project, Khairani Barokka.

Khairani Barokka is an Indonesian writer, poet, artist, and disability and arts (self-)advocate in London. Among her honors, she was an NYU Tisch Departmental Fellow for her Masters, Emerging Writers Festival’s (AUS) Inaugural International Writer-In-Residence, Indonesia’s first Writer-In-Residence at Vermont Studio Center, and one of UNFPA’s Indonesian “Inspirational Young Leaders Driving Social Change” for prolific transnational work in inclusive, accessible arts. She’s been awarded six residencies, with a seventh upcoming. Published internationally in anthologies, journals, and forthcoming projects, Okka has presented work extensively, in nine countries, and is a PhD-by-practice candidate at Goldsmiths, as an LPDP Scholar. Her accessible poetry-art book Indigenous Species is forthcoming from Tilted Axis Press in 2016, and she is the co-editor with Ng Yi-Sheng of HEAT: A Southeast Asian Urban Anthology (Buku Fixi Publishing, 2016.)

Lastly, many of you would have come to this project through knowing Marcie Burnhope. Sadly, due to recurring mental and physical health problems, Marcie has stood down as co-editor. We’d like to take the opportunity of thanking her for all her work and continued support of the project. It wouldn’t be happening without her.

We’re very excited about the launch of the book in Spring 2017, and thank you again for your patience and support of the project.

Anthology Submissions Update

Dear writers,

Many thanks for your 2015 submissions to our forthcoming anthology of disabled and D/deaf poets. We wanted to let you know that we will hopefully be making decisions and contacting poets by Spring/Summer 2016. You might not receive contact from us for a long while, but rest assured we are reading and considering your work seriously.

The calibre of writing is very high and decisions will be difficult. Unfortunately, we will not be able to give everyone detailed feedback, as there are over 500 pages of poetry and cover letters for us to read. This is an exciting but daunting task!

We are volunteer editors working on this project in our own time, and the project is currently unfunded.  We are also all ill and disabled — so, as you can appreciate, the process is a massive undertaking. We thank you for your patience.

If for any reason you wish to withdraw your submission, just let us know ( Also, if any poems you have submitted are published elsewhere in the meantime, please drop us an e-mail with details.

All the best and many thanks again for sharing your work with us.

Sandra Alland, Marcie Burnhope & Daniel Sluman

Shout-Out for Deaf BSL Poetry, and Disabled & D/deaf Performance & Sound Poetry

Click here for details (in BSL and text) on an upcoming site of Deaf BSL Poetry, and Disabled & D/deaf Performance & Sound Poetry.

(The deadline for films is 15 October, but the deadline for the print anthology is THIS FRIDAY, 31st JULY! Details on the print anthology here:


The Editors

Call for Submissions

Call for Submissions
UK Disability Poetry / Crip Poetics Anthology
Nine Arches Press
Editors: Sandra Alland, Markie Burnhope & Daniel Sluman
Deadline 31 July, 2015

Writing *to* disabled people has all sorts of implications, not just topic and diction but orientation, the things you don’t explain but just let float out there. When I consciously undertook writing poems with a crip audience in mind, I let go of the myth of universality.

–Jim Ferris, Poetry Magazine, 2014

Background Notes (click here for Submissions Guidelines):

Nine Arches Press has commissioned Sandra Alland, Markie Burnhope and Daniel Sluman to co-edit an anthology of UK Disability Poetry / Crip Poetics, which we think will be the first of its kind in the UK. We expect to be able to publish sometime in 2016.

In 2011, U.S.-based poetry editors Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black and Mike Northen collaborated to bring you Beauty Is A Verb, the very first anthology to draw together and showcase The New Poetry of Disability, or Crip Poetics, being developed largely in the United States. Beauty Is A Verb traced a history of Crip Poetics in America from Larry Eigner to a present crop of poets with disabilities working in the fledgling but ever-expanding field.

Our cultural, political and social context in the UK is different to that from which Beauty Is A Verb emerged. As well as reflecting on the work of Mike Northen and co, and the many reputable poets who featured in that anthology, the editors plan to draw together our backgrounds and influences in poetry; political and social activism; and academia around disability, feminism, sexuality and gender fluidity/variation – with a consciously intersectional framework.

We plan to draw on the context of anti-Atos / Welfare Reform and NHS privatisation activism, whose leading lights (particularly on online social networks) have been women, including trans women, queer women and/or women of colour – a clear antithesis to the systemic norm. In both poetry and prose we plan to explore, creatively and critically, other bodily identities and oppressions that intersect with disability to create what poet and activist Eli Clare called “marked bodies.” Racialised bodies, gender non-conforming bodies, bodies “marked” by class or religion.

As editors we are committed to the social model of disability (with contributions from other radical socio-political models), which means we are casting a wide net in our call for poets who self-identify as disabled, people with disabilities, crip, D/deaf, or any variation thereof, and who may consider their impairments and/or their disabled or D/deaf identity a key part of their thematic, conceptual and aesthetic practice.

What We Want

We want to represent the poetry of visible and invisible long-term and life-altering physical disability or mobility impairments, deafness, blindness and visual impairment, learning difficulties, cognitive impairments, chronic and terminal illness (ME/CFS/EDS/Fibromyalgia/MS/cancer etc.), stammers and stutters, mental health issues – and any other non-normative bodily alignments which have a place under the banner of “disabled” according to the social model. We also aim to include Deaf writers/performers who do not identify as disabled.

We especially welcome work from writers who also identify as people of colour, minority ethnic, indigenous, racialised, migrant, queer, bisexual, lesbian, gay, asexual, genderqueer, gender variant, gender non-binary, trans, intersex, women, agender, working class, working poor and/or any related identities.

We want poetry that pushes boundaries. We’re interested in a large range of styles. For some exemplary disability writing visit wordgathering.

Some of Sandra Alland’s work:
Text & Recordings (Archive of the Now)
“Able” (poetry video with subtitles)
Markie Burnhope:
“Something Like a Leviathan”
Daniel Sluman:
“Shove Ten Pounds of Sugar in a Seven-Pound Bag”

What We DON’T Want

We’re not looking for ‘inspiration porn’, work whose primary purpose is therapeutic, and definitely not work which perpetuates ableist tropes or rhetoric in any way.

Click here for Submissions Guidelines

We can’t wait to read you!

Your editors,
Sandra Alland, Markie Burnhope & Daniel Sluman 

Sandra Alland is a writer, performer, filmmaker and interdisciplinary artist based in Scotland. She co-won the 2013 bpNichol Chapbook Award for Naturally Speaking (espresso: Toronto), an examination of gender and disability poetics. Her current projects include The Queer & Trans* Deaf & Disabled Video Project, Cachín Cachán Cachunga! & SEEP, and They They Theys. Sandra has fibromyalgia, hypermobility and scoliosis, and also identifies as working poor and genderqueer.

Markie Burnhope is a poet, editor and disability activist. Markie co-edited Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot, and Fit to Work: Poets Against Atos. Their published poetry includes the pamphlets The Snowboy (Salt Publishing, 2011) and Lever Arch (Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2013), and their debut full-length collection, Species (Nine Arches Press, 2014). Markie was born with Spina bifida and Hydrocephalus, and self-identifies as disabled, neurodivergent, and non-binary trans.

Daniel Sluman is a young poet based in Gloucestershire. His poems have appeared widely in journals such as CadaverinePopshotShit Creek Review, & Orbis. His debut full-length collection, Absence has a weight of its own, was published in 2012 through Nine Arches Press, who will also be publishing his second collection, The Terrible, in 2015. Daniel is a through-hip amputee from childhood bone cancer and a resulting chronic back condition.