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    Short story: Nick Lewis: 'Travels With My Self'

    7 March 2016


    Nick Lewis is an author, poet and artist. He is currently working on a serialised novel based on his experience of living with MS. We are delighted to share three chapters from the author's work-in-progress: ‘Travels With My Self’.

    Poetry: Angus McKenzie-Davie

    25 January 2016


    Angus M. D. writes about the experience of disability in both the real and virtual worlds. In the words of Dave Vanian: 'Feel the pain...'

    Reviews: Dao Writers on Literature

    18 January 2016


    Dao is building a collection of essays about representation of disability within literature. To date Dr Emmeline Burdett has reviewed Courting Greta by Ramsey Hootman, The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen by Lindsay Ashford, The Norwich Wheelchair Murders by Bill Albert and You Have Not A leg To Stand On by DD Mayers.


    Review: You Have Not a Leg to Stand On by D.D. Mayers

    18 January 2016


    D.D. Mayers autobiography is described as the story of one man’s journey from happiness to despair and back again. Dr Emmeline Burdett gives an analysis of the book drawing on disability studies theory to understand how disabled people can often imbibe a negative self-image from disability stereotypes.


    Review: ‘The Norwich Wheelchair Murders’ by Bill Albert

    18 November 2015


    ‘The Norwich Wheelchair Murders’ is an example of ’Crip Noir’ according to pre-publication reviews. Emmeline Burdett explores the ‘disability angles’ within this compelling thriller, written by wheelchair user and disability rights campaigner, Bill Albert. 

    Review: The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen by Lindsay Ashford

    12 October 2015


    Published in October 2011, 'The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen' is a historical mystery, researched and written while the author Lindsay Ashford was living in the former home of Jane Austen's brother. Dr Emmeline Burdett critiques the suppositions proposed in the novel from the perspective of the lives of women in Georgian England.


    Review: Theatres of Learning Disability: Good, bad or plain ugly

    24 September 2015


    Published by Palgrave Macmillan, Matt Hargrave’s is the first book to focus exclusively on theatre and learning disability from an artistic perspective. Over five years Hargraves researched the work of several companies and artists giving detailed analysis of work by Back To Back, Mind the Gap, Dark Horse, the Shysters and Full Body and the Voice. Review by Gus Garside

    Review: All is calm, all is chaos, in Mark Wood's world

    13 July 2015


    Mark Wood, who died tragically in 2013 at the age of 44, was a prolific creative who worked in photography, painting, cartoon, poetry, short story and music composition. Deborah Caulfield reviews ‘Spirit of Nature’ an exhibition of his work on show at Oxford Town Hall until 22 July.


    Poetry: Kuli Kohli: Rag Doll

    22 June 2015


    Kuli Kohli was born with mild cerebral palsy in northern India and moved to England at an early age. She is a writer, mother, wife and full-time council worker.  Here she presents a selection from her book ‘Rag Doll’, published in 2014

    Interview: Penny Pepper talks about her experience of working with The Literary Consultancy

    16 June 2015


    The Literary Consultancy, (TLC) founded in 1996 by its Director Rebecca Swift and Hannah Griffiths, offers a service in assessing writers’ manuscripts to give advice on how to approach publishers and agents. Colin Hambrook interviews Penny Pepper about her experience with TLC in time for their ‘Quality Writing for All’ campaign launching on 16th June at The Free Word Centre in London. 

    Poetry: Jonathan Andrews

    1 June 2015


    Jonathan Andrews’ poetry recounts a lived experience of autism – a perspective, which is too often ignored in favour of second-person narratives of what an autistic person seems to be thinking or feeling. He feels short, evocative snippets of this experience are the most powerful – and that the poetic form is the perfect medium to convey these.

    News: Creative Future: Nurturing Writing Talent At The Margins

    12 May 2015


    Brighton-based charity Creative Future has launched its second national competition, The Creative Future Literary Awards; championed by top poet and playwright Lemn Sissay and bestselling author Maggie Gee, to discover the best writers from disadvantaged groups.

    Review: Tanvi Bush ‘Witch Girl’

    30 April 2015


    Through a unique blend of witchcraft, AIDS activism, religious extremism, Tanvi Bush's first novel weaves together a thrilling narrative with vivid descriptions and unforgettable characters in her first novel published by Modjaji Books. Review by Emmeline Burdett

    Review: Q S Lam: Schizophrenics Can Be Good Mothers Too

    17 April 2015


    Published by Muswell Hill Press, 'Schizophrenics Can Be Good Mothers Too'  takes the reader on the artist Q S Lam's journey through the labyrinthine passages of psychosis describing her strategies and struggles to recover from the impact of the illness on everyday life, drawing on her personal experience, using art, not medication, to keep well. Review by Colin Hambrook

    Review: Courting Greta by Ramsey Hootman

    26 March 2015


    Published in June 2013 ‘Courting Greta’ is Ramsey Hootman’s debut novel: ‘a most unlikely romance, involving a 34-year-old crippled computer geek and a middle-aged gym teacher/ basketball coach with a penchant for addressing him as Mr. Cooke.’  Dr Emmeline Burdett critiques the novel from the perspective of a social model of disability.

    News: iF Platform Artists Announced

    3 February 2015


    Stopgap Dance Company and The Point announce the final programme for the iF Platform (Integrated Fringe). A ground breaking showcase featuring the best integrated arts companies from the UK as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015.

    News: Febulous February

    2 February 2015


    Highly successful creative writing blog celebrating LGBT History Month returns to offer free online digital publication opportunities this February. 

    Poetry: Debjani Chatterjee: A Miscellany

    13 January 2015


    Award-winning poet-translator, Debjani Chatterjee MBE, shares a few poems from her collections, including her latest book 'Do You Hear the Storm Sing?' (Core Publications, winter 2014). She has been called 'a rainbow spirit' (Paul Beasley) and 'a voice of rare originality' (David Morley).

    Profile: Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899 – 1976)

    6 January 2015


    Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899 – 1976) was a Bengali polymath, poet, writer, musician and revolutionary. Popularly known as Nazrul, his poetry and music espoused Indo-Islamic renaissance and intense spiritual rebellion against fascism and oppression. Debjani Chatterjee gives an account of the influence of his poetry on her life and career as a poet whose work creates a bridge between two continents.

    Review: Maggie Sawkins: Zones of Avoidance

    26 November 2014


    Multimedia live literature production Zones of Avoidance was written and performed by poet Maggie Sawkins and directed by Mark C Hewitt with film sequences from Abigail Norris. Colin Hambrook reviews a performance at the All Saints Centre, Lewes on 29 October

    Review: Rite of Passage: a gravedigger's memoir by Peter Street

    3 November 2014


    Published as an ebook by Natterjack Press, Wendy Young unearths some graveyard humour in Peter Street’s memoir 'Rite of Passage' with its tales of a young disabled grave-digger in a 1960s world that most of us would not be able to ‘dig’!

    Allan Sutherland

    17 October 2014


    Allan Sutherland’s blog charts the progress of working on his first collection of poetry, Leaning On A Lamppost. The collection will give an overview of his work, including 20 years of performance, his more recent pioneering work in transcription poetry, found poems and a set of new work responding to his mentoring by John O’Donoghue.

    Poetry: Claire McLaughlin: Remembering Blue

    28 September 2014


    Claire McLaughlin shares a selection of poems from her forthcoming poetry collection Remembering Blue, to be published by Survivors Press in autumn 2014. Her work is infused with a sense of the losses and the gains that come with the  experience of impairment.

    Essay: The anti-war poem ‘Disabled’ by Wilfred Owen

    19 September 2014


    Emmeline Burdett gives an analysis of one of the most famous anti-war poems of all time from the hand of the First World War Poet, Wilfred Owen. In a bid to evoke what Owen called ‘the pity of War’ the poem ‘Disabled’ gives impairment an emblematic status which, argues Burdett, impacts on attitudes today.

    Opinion: Dao Writers on Poetry

    18 September 2014


    Dao is building a collection of essays about poetry and profiles of poets, offering a disability perspective. So far we've published an article by Owen Lowery on a selection of war poets; a profile of George MacKay-Brown by Richard Longstaff, personal explorations of the first three collections of Seamus Heaney by Anthony Hurford, an analysis of Wilfred Owen's anti-war poem 'Disabled' by Emmeline Burdett and a profile of Nazrul, 'The Rebel...

    Review: Unlimited 2014: Perceptions of Difference: DAO & Survivors' Poetry

    4 September 2014


    On Level 5 on the Royal Festival Hall lies the Saison Poetry Library: an eclectic crowd gathered to hear poetry from four stalwarts of the Survivors' Movement. Wendy Young was there for the inspiring words of Hilary Porter, John O’Donoghue, Debjani Chatterjee MBE, Frank Bangay the Bard of Hackney!  MC’d by Colin Hambrook.


    Interview: Unlimited 2014: Owen Lowery: Otherwise Unchanged

    12 August 2014


    Owen Lowery is the author of a volume of poetry, Otherwise Unchanged (Carcanet 2012), and is the recipient of an Unlimited award. John O’Donoghue interviewed the poet by email about the inspiration, form and development of his work providing an insight into his creative identity. What follows is an edited version of this correspondence.

    Recommended list of books and journals

    10 June 2014


    This section of Dao's research pages features a series of academic journals, books, novels and literature, which discusses disability. If you know of a book or journal you think Dao's readers would be interested in knowing about please send details to Dao's editor Colin Hambrook via

    Essay: the war poetry of Keith Douglas, Alan Ross, and Wilfred Owen

    20 May 2014


    Owen Lowery, author of Otherwise Unchanged, published by Carcanet, and recipient of a recent Unlimited award offers a critique of the war poetry of Keith Douglas, Alan Ross, Wilfred Owen and Edward Thomas. In contrasting the styles of these poets recording their experience of war, Lowery examines his own approach to recording the impact of impairment ‘in extremis’

    Poetry: Penny Pepper: Lost in Spaces

    19 May 2014


    Penny Pepper is a writer, poet and performer with an extraordinary versatility to her work. Genre-defying and quirky, her work is infused with her passion as a veteran disability arts activist.

    Poetry: Julie McNamara: Chaos Calls

    17 May 2014


    Julie McNamara has been a tour de force within the field of Disability Arts for more than twenty years. Her current theatre work: Let Me Stay is a recipient of an Unlimited 2014 award, and is currently touring. Julie has also had her poetry published in several anthologies. Below Dao previews a selection from her first collection Chaos Calls, published by Vital Xposure.

    Poetry: Owen Lowery: Otherwise Unchanged

    12 May 2014


    Writing and studying poetry was initially part of Owen Lowery's recovery following a spinal injury incurred while competing in a charity judo tournament as a young professional sportsman. Having recently won an Unlimited Award, Lowery's first major poetry collection, 'Otherwise Unchanged', was published by Carcanet in 2012. The work speaks in a range of voices, drawing from poetic traditions far and wide. 

    Review: ‘Good Kings Bad Kings’ a novel by Susan Nussbaum

    22 April 2014


    Winner of the Pen/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, 'Good Kings Bad Kings’ (Oneworld Publications, 2014) by the American playwright and disability campaigner Susan Nussbaum, is a novel about life inside the walls of the Illinois Learning and Life Skills Center (ILLC), - an institution for juveniles with disabilities. Review by Emmeline Burdett

    Poetry: Carol Robson: Just Saying How It Is

    22 April 2014


    Carol Robson loves the performance genre. She self-published her first collection Words of Darkness and Light in 2012, which will shortly be published as a second edition by Thynks Publications. She writes poetry on various themes but is passionate on issues of gender, sexuality, ageing and disability. 

    Poetry: Wendy Young

    7 April 2014


    Wendy Young began a poetry blog as well contributing reviews for Dao in 2013, following involvement with Survivors’ Poetry. She says: "Writing about life experiences through truth and humour is a survival mechanism. Poetry is therapy and any chance to express hidden darkness is a reason to live."

    Poetry: John William Brown

    5 April 2014


    John William Brown is a poet, painter and performer based in Norwich. He has published in various anthologies and has produced a chapbook of his drawings and poems, Private View (1997). He was joint editor of the now defunct magazine for marginalised persons, State of Mind (2004-6). John submitted a selection of illustrated poems from his published works.

    Profile: Seamus Heaney: Door into the Dark

    3 April 2014


    Seamus Heaney (b. 1939, d. 2013) was a poet, playwright, translator and lecturer, and the recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was the author of over 20 volumes of poetry and criticism, and edited several widely used anthologies. Anthony Hurford reflects on the poets second collection Door into the Dark, which evokes the poets early rural life in Northern Ireland

    Poetry: Anthony Hurford: The Staff of Asclepius

    17 March 2014


    Anthony Hurford came to DAO via the Survivor's Poetry blog. He submitted a selection from his forthcoming poetry pamphlet due to be published by Survivors' Press in summer 2014

    Poetry: Richard Longstaff: 'A Curlew Calls'

    6 December 2013


    Richard Longstaff submitted the following selection of his poetry. Taking inspiration from nature, 'A Curlew Calls' is part of a 40 poem collection on the author's relationship to the natural world. 

    Opinion: John O’Donoghue on mentoring poet, Clare Best

    15 November 2013


    We hear a lot these days about ‘mentoring’. But what does a mentor actually do? How do you become one? How do people find the right mentor for them? And – the $64,000 question – are mentors worth it? Here John O’Donoghue recalls mentoring Clare Best in producing her poetry collection 'Excisions'.

    John O'Donoghue discusses the making of Knitting Time by Colin Hambrook

    14 October 2013


    Knitting Time by Colin Hambrook has just been published by Waterloo Press, part of a project comprising online content and an exhibition at Pallant House in Chichester. Here John  O’Donoghue describes the mentoring process that led to the book’s publication.

    Book: Ball & other funny stories about cancer

    9 October 2013


    Published by Oberon Books (2012) Brian Lobel's unexpected, quirky and provocative, BALL & Other Funny Stories About Cancer is the transcript of a unique collection of performances about illness and the changing body over time.

    Gini: Con.Text: the major and minor scroll

    15 July 2013


    Gini was awarded a Diverse Perspectives commission to make creative responses to conversations with artists and audiences at Salisbury Arts Centre. The scrolls she produced give a creative insight into peoples' reactions to work exhibited and their reasons for coming to the Arts Centre.

    Creative writing: A selection of short stories by Lynne E Blackwood

    11 June 2013


    Lynne Blackwood started writing in April 2012 after illness terminated her professional activity. She is of Anglo-Indian descent and her emotional heritage plays a strong part in her writing sensitivities, reflecting a mosaic of experiences and cultures. DAO is proud to present a series of her short stories.

    Song: Alas Atos from Making Waves Community Choir

    4 June 2013


    Making Waves is a left/ green community choir, based in Cullercoats, which has a policy of freely sharing their produce. Oliver Swingler from the choir sent the following song to DAO. He says that if anyone else wants to record it and publish (with acknowledgement of Oliver and the choir), they are most welcome.

    All The Lonely People: an anthology by Plum Tree Books

    30 April 2013


    Niamh Clune, Founder of Plum Tree Books sent out a call across Facebook, announcing that she wanted to do an anthology on All The Lonely People... poems, art, prose focussing on the subject of loneliness. DAO presents a sampler from the online anthology.

    Survivors' Poetry blog

    29 March 2013


    Survivor's Poetry aim to publish and promote poetry by survivors; supporting and developing survivor poets and establishing communication networks; making connections between creativity and mental health. This blog contains notes from contributors to the survivors network.

    Creative writing project with the Grace Eyre Foundation

    26 March 2013


    Since August 2012 DAO has been publishing writing by members of the Grace Eyre Foundation creative writing group. On these pages you will find a selection of short stories and poetry by Lauretta Moyo, Hala Exander, James Grantham, Juliet Senker, Betty Vincent, Alex Yetton, Karen Young, Jonny Schachter, Keir Dean, Susan Street and Ann Hart as well as some collectively written pieces.

    If Dr Mel Schachter was Prime Minister of England by Jonny Schachter

    15 February 2013


    On this page DAO features a story in which the author re-imagines historical events from 1940 onwards. If only his father Dr Mel Schachter had been elected as Prime Minister instead of Winston Churchill and members of Grace Eyre had been put in charge of political events!

    Great Camelot: From Chaos to Destruction by Keir Dean

    15 February 2013


    On this page DAO features Keir Dean's retelling of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of Camelot. Here the tale is retold with a dark twist involving a quest for the Holy Grail, heroic deaths and an end that does not end well for most.

    'Listening to the Dark' a selection of poetry by Peter Street

    21 January 2013


    Published by Penniless Press, 'Listening to the Dark' is Street's fifth volume, which includes a diverse range of topics from growing up in Bolton, living with disability, his experience as a war poet in Croatia and voicing the concerns of plants and trees.

    Underwater Con.Text by Gini

    3 October 2012


    'Underwater Con.Text' is a poetic response to Sue Austin's underwater wheelchair live art piece 'Creating the Spectacle!' The text provides a glimpse into how a random selection of people have allowed Austin's underwater wheelchair ballet into their lives.

    Selected poetry by Jonny Schachter

    30 September 2012


    Since August 2012 DAO has been publishing an online selection of creative writing by members of the Grace Eyre Foundation’s creative writing group. Here we feature a selection of poetry by Jonny Schachter who has a BA in sociology and English.

    Peter Street

    21 September 2012


    Peter Street's blog covers a variety of publications by the author - the latest being a memoir of his days as a gravedigger in the 1960s. The blog also follows the launch of his fifth poetry volume 'Listening to the Dark', which was published by Penniless Press in August 2012.

    A selection of poetry by Saradha Soobrayen

    29 June 2012


    Saradha Soobrayen is a London-born poet, and reviews editor for 'Modern Poetry in Translation'. Here she gives two examples of poems performed as part of the Festival of the World Poetry Parnassus at the Southbank Centre, London, June 2012.

    Review: Handspring Puppet Company present Crow

    20 June 2012


    Breathing theatrical life into Ted Hughes’ mythic Crow poems, Handspring Puppet Company combine puppetry with choreography in a dance theatre performance as part of the Greenwich + Docklands International Festival. DAO Editor Colin Hambrook looks on and weeps...

    Review: Tales From The Other Side by Christopher Ejsmond

    17 May 2012


    Dave Russell reviews Tales From The Other Side, by Christopher Ejsmond - a collection of ninety poems focussing on the author’s experience of mental distress and his journey of self-awareness and recovery.

    Review: The Optimism Bias - a talk at the Southbank Centre by author Tali Sharot

    27 February 2012


    Tali Sharot is a rising star at U.C.L.'s department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences. Her book 'The Optimism Bias' came out to great interest and rave reviews. Subtitled "a tour of the irrationally positive brain," Sharot's talk at The Southbank Centre on 15 February, was a tour of a tour. Nicole Fordham Hodges went along for the ride.

    Interview: Lung Ha’s Theatre Company present ‘Antigone’

    23 February 2012


    This coming March 2012, Scotland’s leading group for performers with learning difficulties, Lung Ha’s Theatre Company, presents a new version of Sophocles‘ ‘Antigone’, the classic story of a young woman standing up against society for what she believes is right. Paul F Cockburn spoke with artistic director Maria Oller and the composer Kenneth Dempster to learn about the show’s origins.

    View the Con.Text by artist and writer Gini

    30 January 2012


    View the Con.Text is a unique audience engagement project devised by artist and writer Gini. Visitors were invited to take a comfy seat and chat about their own journeys and their thoughts on the 'The View from Here' exhibition, which took place at Salisbury Arts Centre from 9th November to 23 December 2011.

    Unsilenced Voices: Romani Voices

    22 January 2012


    Exiled Writers Ink support and give a platform to exiled writers from around the world. Nicole Fordham Hodges went along to one of their monthly readings on 5th December at the Poetry Cafe, London WC2. She heard some Romani voices, and they certainly hadn't been silenced.

    An argument for the Creative Case in Literature

    13 December 2011


    From the Cheltenham Literature Festival in 1998 to recent Lyric Lounge events, James Urquhart - Relationship Manager Literature, ACE East Midlands - gives an account of the Creative Case at work.

    New writing: Peter Street's Memoirs

    26 December 2009


    Peter Street was born in Wigan in 1948, the illegitimate son of an Anglo/Irish cotton mill worker and an Irish/Spanish glassworker. He was raised in Bolton by his mother and a stepfather: Thomas Edgar Street. Peter has six major collections to his name, and was a war poet in 1993 during the Bosnian/Croat conflict. He was recipient of a Royal Literary Fund grant in 2008. Here he recalls memories from the first chapter of his life: "Disability has been a big part of my...

    Peter Street remembers Jimmy

    21 August 2009


    A new piece of prose from disabled writer Peter Street evokes a vivid picture of a day centre somewhere in the north of England in May 1983

    Critical Writing Masterclass

    2 November 2007


    A group of disabled writers were invited by New Writing South and DAO (Disability Arts Online) to a series of seminars to develop skills in critical writing and gain an understanding of its role within the world of news media and publishing

    Assessing Lord Nelson: Shag Sketch 006 by Ann Young

    16 December 2006


    What would a dialogue between Lord Nelson and a social worker have sounded like? Ann Young, wizened disability art chick and groupie, brings the historical character into the present and makes some terrible jokes in passing.

    Rachel Gadsden: Beyond the Asylum narrative

    1 October 2005


    Within her artistic practice Rachel Gadsden has been exploring derelict Asylums seeking to examine the traces of life within their fabric despite the neglect and decay. This narrative by Tim Hayton is based on her collection of paintings, 'Beyond the Asylum'.

    Allan Sutherland: Paddy Masefield Poems

    1 July 2005


    Paddy: A Life, is a series of 32 transcription poems by Allan Sutherland based on interviews with Paddy Masefield as part of the Edward Lear Oral History Project.

    The New DAIL Magazine (2004)

    1 December 2004


    Disability Arts Online spoke to Catya Wheatley and Hanne Olsen, the new editors of Disability Arts in London (DAIL) Magazine.