What The Critics Say

Stairs and Whispers is a Poetry School Book of the Year 2018!
Short-listed for Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2018

clockwise from top left: poets Bea Webster, Andra Simons and Donna Williams

‘A nuanced addition to a developing canon of disability poetics; one that
embraces interruption and disjunction, explores the limits of embodiment,
knows its
literary and activist ancestors, and strives for a best praxis
of accessibility… It is a genuine joy to read.’

-Robin Eames, Deaf Poets Society, September 2018 (full review)


‘By calling attention to histories of thought and community values and practices
that trouble dominant colonial narratives, Stairs and Whispers participates
in wider efforts to decolonise understandings of disability.’

-Kate Lewis Hood, MAI Feminism, April 2018


‘I can tell that Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back is going to be one of those anthologies I return to again and again… This was the most versatile and thoughtful anthology I’ve ever experienced. ***** (Five stars).’

-Amanda Earl, Canadian poet, February 2018


‘An education and a celebration. A clinic in how to make a many-minded book into
a poem all of its own.’

-Dave Poems, Dave Coates,
“Books I read this year that are not just good but fundamentally
changed how I read poetry”, January 2018


‘The book shows us another world of literature that needs further exploring. (…)
a remarkable collection written by known and less-known voices.’

– London Grip, Wendy French,  January 2018


‘It’s unusual for the form and presentation of a book to be as important and thought-provoking as the content, but that is exactly what Stairs and Whispers achieves… As for the poems themselves, they are exceptionally varied and wide-ranging. Stairs and Whispers is more a survey of exciting possibilities than a singular expression of the editors’ tastes.’

-Poetry School Book of the Year, Ali Lewis, December 2017, (full review here)


‘…a great collection of poems but also a manifesto, compendium and multimedia experience… it feels essential.’

-Morning Star Book of the Year, Kate Fox, December 2017


‘Most poetry books only offer written poetry. This is one of the few that offers the reader spoken poetry, visual poetry and poetry conveyed through the medium of film… The variety of poetry meant that I was able to immerse myself in new creative styles every so often, and thus I stayed interested in the anthology throughout. ***** (Five stars).’

-Huntress of Diverse Books, Sinead Anja, December 2017


‘…the editors’ choices go far beyond poetry that simply talks about disability to consider how differently inhabited subjectivities might make formal innovation necessary, not just in terms of composition, but also in terms of how poetry reaches its audience and makes itself accessible in all kinds of ways. If the poetry ‘scene’ wasn’t talking about these issues until this anthology was published, it must do now.’

-A Thing for Poetry ‘Highlights of the Year’, David Clarke, December 2017


It would be impossible to provide an honourable mention for every poem and performance I enjoyed in this skilfully-edited anthology… It reminded me in some respects of last year’s The Good Immigrant (ed. by Nikesh Shukla), and should be posted to politicians and available on the front tables of every major bookseller in the UK.’

-Sabotage Reviews, David Mitchell, December 2017


I challenge anyone to find a poetry anthology that represents diversity and intersectionality as well as Stairs and Whispers. It’s not hyperbole to repeat that this anthology is groundbreaking, on several levels.’

– Magma Poetry (London), Katrina Naomi, Winter 2017


‘I was thrilled to have experienced this anthology… Go and buy (it) to
immerse yourself in it. That’s only if you haven’t already!’

– Limping Chicken, Lianne Herbert, November 2017


‘I could not stop reading it. Finally, I thought. And not only with regards to the
quality of the poetry; this book is really all about access.’

– The Quotidian Amateur, Perdana Putri, November 2017
(Translated from Indonesian by Khairani Barokka)


‘utterly electrifying’

– The Skinny (Glasgow/Edinburgh), September 2017


…the world’s best title in the history of everything, I love it (…) [I] was completely taken with the message of what they were trying to do and I think it’s important work.’

-Vix Jensen, Bilingual Bookworm, September 2017


‘Stairs and Whispers is a book to slam down in front of those who defend lazy tropes. It’s not a book created for those people, either, which is just one reason why it’s so great (…) Stories that are well worth your time… Real and present and gleaming.’

– Poetry Review (London), Jen Campbell, Autumn 2017 (audio review online here)


‘Editors deserve kudos for creating a volume that will live long and expand in the imagination, one that truly tells us how we live now, and how we move forward into the next generation of disability poetics, a road-map for writing our bodies and our resistance… This book is truly essential. Buy, beg, borrow or steal it.
It will change you as it has changed me

– Wordgathering (Philadelphia), Sheila Black, September 2017 (full review here)


“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, spring 2017


‘…an invaluable addition to disability literature…a beautifully rich collection of voices… stripped bare and laid out in indelible forms.’

 – J V Birch Blog (Adelaide, Australia), July 2017


‘The (Ledbury Festival) event was a multi-media experience of poetry films, readings and questions, supported by sign, subtitles, and the full text of poems. The editors described themselves for those with sight impairment, and in a large hall it felt like the most intimate and captivating experience.’

– Proletarian Poetry (London), Peter Raynard, July 2017


‘Everything I hoped for and more… as accessible as humanly possible… I loved these poems. I was expecting it to be good but it was incredible.’

– Hannah Hodgson, Youtube Reviewer, July 2017


“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, spring 2017


“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 (full BSL video here)


‘Essential reading for #poetrypromoters and #events organizers.’

 – Claire Trévien, poet, August 2017


Okka and San were online at BBC Radio Scotland, discussing Stairs and Whispers, reading poems, and sharing a recording of contributor Claire Cunningham. Listen here, at 16:30!

Buy the book here.

Events, Interviews, Podcasts here.