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Zoeglossia awarded NEA grant to support disabled poets and writers

Release Date: 10 Feb 2022
Zoeglossia awarded NEA grant to support disabled poets and writers

As part of the American Rescue Plan, Zoeglossia will receive a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of a $57.7 million effort to help the U.S. arts and cultural sector recover from the impact of the global pandemic. Zoeglossia, an arts organization for writers and poets with disabilities, is among 567 local arts organizations receiving grants.

“It’s the first time that part of emergency funding for COVID is providing grants to be distributed to arts organizations,” said Connie Voisine, cofounder and English Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at New Mexico State University. “It’s an acknowledgement that the arts are an important part of our economy.”

Zoeglossia was founded by poets Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black and Voisine as an emerging literary organization that dedicates itself to providing inclusive space for poets who identify as disabled through an annual literary retreat.

"We are so happy the NEA chose to support our work to promote greater inclusion and access for disabled poets and writers,” Black said. “We are especially thrilled because our community of fellows so far represents such a wealth of extraordinarily diverse poets and poetic approaches.”

Fellows participate in Zoeglossia for five years and are eligible to attend the retreat for three of the five years of their fellowship. The retreat is hosted through a partnership with NMSU, which has provided ongoing technical assistance and support.

The third annual Zoeglossia Retreat is scheduled for May 11-15. Workshops and events will be conducted virtually due to COVID-19. The deadline for applications is Tuesday, Feb. 15. Applicants may submit work via the Zoeglossia website

“If you're a writer over the age of 21 who identifies as disabled, and especially if you are someone from historically underrepresented communities, please apply,” Voisine said. “We would really love to see your work.”

The NEA grant will provide support to help the organization develop structure and staff to continue its work to promote the work of Zoeglossia Fellows, develop a social media strategy that effectively promotes disabled voices in cultural spaces and develop video content or a "Zoeglossia Channel" that provides an accessible video platform for poets and writers with disabilities.

“Our nation’s arts sector has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Endowment for the Arts’ American Rescue Plan funding will help arts organizations, such as Zoeglossia rebuild and reopen,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, NEA chair. “The arts are crucial in helping America’s communities heal, unite and inspire, as well as essential to our nation’s economic recovery.” 

“We look forward to working with our community to leverage this grant to provide wider access and opportunity for disabled voices and stories to be shared, experienced and celebrated," Black said.

Learn more about NEA’s American Rescue Plan grants, including the full list of arts organizations funded.

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