heidi andrea restrepo rhodes (she/they) is a queer, sick/disabled, brown/Colombian poet, scholar, educator, and cultural worker.Artist Bio
Tala Khanmalek (she/they) is a writer, educator, and oral historian whose work is informed by archives, activist legacies, family history, and community-based organizing.Artist Bio
Vital Signs is a book project that foregrounds an anti-ableist way of being, premised on relationality and interdependency, with special attention to form as part of sick/disabled practices for living differently. The introduction lays out the landscape of thought, influence, and vision for the book. Elaborating a theory of “vital signs” for metaphorical and material mattering—of life and world, intimacy and relation, being and becoming—the introduction specifies what rhodes and Khanmalek intend the book to be: a proposal for epistemological alterity based in queer-of-color disability thought; a textual performance; a space of ritual; a work of speculative memory and meditation on intergenerational trauma and chronic illness as a postcolonial condition; a documentation of the growing archive and constellation of sick and disabled queer thought and cultural production; an epistolary space-time experiment in intimacy and relation—with each other, with ancestors, with their readers; a kind of liberation (anti-)mapping for survival and life-making—a series of signposts they identify or invent. The book is subsequently structured as a compendium that is not necessarily intended to be read in linear fashion. rhodes and Khanmalek aim to include one hundred entries, from A to Z, taking up certain “keywords” related to disability-justice work (such as care and access intimacy, for example), as well as terms that may not be traditionally included in these fields, but which bear relevance for a politics and poetics of illness and disability, and the queer-of-color cultural and theoretical work they do for collective healing.
heidi andrea restrepo rhodes
heidi andrea restrepo rhodes (she/they) is a queer, sick/disabled, brown/Colombian poet, scholar, educator, and cultural worker with a PhD in political theory from the CUNY Graduate Center. Her poetry collection, The Inheritance of Haunting (University of Notre Dame Press, 2019), won the 2018 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. Her chapbook Ephemeral is the 2022 winner of the Lorca Latinx Poetry Prize and will be published by EcoTheo Collective in 2023. She is a Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation alum and has received poetry fellowships from Zoeglossia, CantoMundo, Radar Productions, VONA, and Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration. Her creative writing has been published in Poetry, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Nat. Brut, Waxwing, and Wordgathering, among other places. Her scholarly work has been published or is forthcoming in Feminist Studies, Frontiers journal, and Disability Studies Quarterly. She teaches and lives on Gabrielino Tongva land in the San Gabriel Mountain foothills of Southern California, and wants to swim with you in the raucous and joyful possibilities of crip poetics and abolition dreams.
Long Beach, CA
Tala Khanmalek (she/they) is a writer, educator, and oral historian with a PhD in ethnic studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a 2022 Periplus Fellowship finalist, a 2021 Anaphora Arts fellow, and a 2020 Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation fellow, and is a 2022–23 Radius of Arab American Writers mentee. Her writing is informed by archives, activist legacies, family history, community-based organizing, and her own ongoing interviews with healing and disability-justice practitioners. Khanmalek’s creative writing has been featured or is forthcoming in the podcast It’s Lit with PhDJ, Meridian, Barzakh, BAHR, Zoeglossia’s Poem of the Week, Split This Rock’s Poem of the Week, Indiana Review, and Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day. She is a trained birthworker and the creator of Sailing for Social Justice, a former sponsored project of the Detroit-based Allied Media Projects that links sailing with social, environmental, and healing justice in both theory and practice.