Writing Happiness Anthology – disabled and neurodivergent writers on joy and happiness

Creative Writing

We are very proud to launch the 2022 Writing Happiness Anthology, an anthology of new writing from D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers exploring happiness in all its forms. 

Read The Writing Happiness Anthology, available to download here as a PDF and here as an accessible Microsoft Word document

This anthology showcases new writing from thirteen D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers who took part in a Writing Happiness workshop series led by Rachel Lewis and Elspeth Wilson. 

Rachel and Elspeth say:  “We started the Writing Happiness project out of a recognition that writing about happiness is not something D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers are often encouraged to do. Emerging writers are often encouraged to dig deep into their trauma, suffering or loss for creative inspiration. However, as writers living with disability and chronic illness ourselves, we have found talking, reading and writing about happiness and joy to be a restorative addition to our practice as well as a real creative challenge. 

Through this project we wanted to create space for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent writers to explore happiness, from tranquility to joy, in all its nuance and complexity. We also wanted to showcase work from underrepresented writers, and help make sure that their stories reach new audiences. 

It has been an enormous professional privilege to work with this group of thirteen D/deaf disabled and neurodivergent writers over six weeks to produce both a wonderful showcase event, and this writing happiness anthology. Their voices are all distinct, powerful and vital. We hope you enjoy their work and that you follow their subsequent careers closely – we certainly will be.”

This anthology was made possible by a generous grant from Arts Council England and support from Spread the Word as a project partner. Thanks are also due to guest facilitators Jamie Hale and Christy Ku, and the disabled writing community for the support and passion they have shown to this project and the idea behind it. 

This anthology features: 

  • Arden Fitzroy 

  • Abíọ́dún Abdul 

  • Bridie Kennerly 

  • Colly Metcalfe

  • Maryam Ebrahim 

  • Inigo Purcell 

  • Jess Stafford

  • Katie Moudry 

  • Matt L. T. Smith 

  • Stephen Whitehead

  • Yaz Nin 

  • Tope Onanuga 

Meet the course leaders

Elspeth Wilson is a writer and poet who is interested in exploring the limitations and possibilities of the body through writing, as well as writing about joy and happiness from a marginalised perspective which has led her to co-found the Writing Happiness project with Rachel Lewis. Her poems have been commended in Young Poets’ Network challenges and her prose has been shortlisted for Canongate’s Nan Shepherd prize and Penguin’s Write Now Editorial programme. Elspeth is currently working on her debut collection and also regularly facilitates accessible creative workshops. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can usually be found near the sea or spending time with her elderly dog. You can find her on Instagram @elspethwrites and on Twitter @elllijwilson.

Rachel Lewis is a poet and facilitator. She co-founded Writing Happiness with Elspeth Wilson. Her poetry interrogates and celebrates family, friendship, community and recovery. Her first pamphlet on eating disorder recovery, ‘Three degrees of separation’, was published in 2019 by Wordsmith HQ. She is currently writing a second collection exploring grief and belonging through her family’s links to the Belfast Jewish community, and running a newsletter exploring the work of poetry. She can be found at @rachel_lewis_poet on instagram and twitter

More writing happiness 

If you enjoyed the anthology, share it with a friend, and let us know what you thought over at @disabledjoy on twitter and instagram! You can find ways to support our work at https://ko-fi.com/writinghappinessproject. If you have a project, event or idea you’d like to talk to us about, get in touch at [email protected]. If you have any access issues with this PDF or Word doc, please let us know by contacting us at [email protected] and we will fix them if we can and take on board your feedback into future iterations of our project. We have made every effort to build access into the anthology but we are still learning and welcome your feedback.

Coming soon on the Spread the Word website is a fantastic Writing Happiness course to download.


Published 4 April 2022