As it seeks to elevate the voices of sick and disabled people, Norwich’s Sick magazine suddenly finds itself sharing a message for a wider audience.
Since the first coverage of the pandemic swamped the news, panicked conversations about self-isolation, boredom and loneliness have been to the fore. It’s easy to see the frustration so many disabled people must have felt – still feel. As Sick editor Olivia Spring writes in issue two of the magazine, ‘Suddenly the whole world is talking about illness, underlying conditions, immunosuppressants, isolation, remote working, and spending all day in pyjamas.’
When the first issue of Sick was launched, it illuminated a gap in the magazine industry. The disabled perspective on life is rarely given much attention in mainstream publications, and when it is, it’s all too often reduced to a token inclusion. So it is perhaps unsurprising that the first issue of Sick was so popular, followed by the second, that has nearly tripled in size, featuring the work of 20 sick and disabled writers, poets and artists located around the world. Even the colourful, contemporary illustration, design and cover art (by Hayley Wall) is all by women whose work is concerned with chronic illness or mental health.
Some of the highlights of this issue include: writing on being a disabled parent, a review of an audio book called ‘Crippled: Austerity and the Demonization of Disabled People’ by Frances Ryan, collage and photomontage, thought pieces on loneliness and isolation, poetry, an interview with the disabled tattoo artist Mira Mariah, artwork by Johan Deckmann and a particularly thought-provoking piece by Anna Hamilton on dealing with unsolicited advice from able-bodied individuals (above).
Sick is the definition of inclusive, it really is a magazine for everyone – especially those who may not be disabled themselves, but are keen to read poetry or thought pieces by disabled people in an attempt to understand their manifold experiences of the world. And unlike all that pandemic coverage, Sick is an uplifting, hopeful publication, combining hard truths with stories of perseverance and bravery.
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