Radical Body launches new platform to support chronically ill and disabled performing artists

Today we’re delighted to be supporting our Springboard company Radical Body with the launch of a new online platform designed to help chronically ill, disabled and/or housebound artists to connect, collaborate and share opportunities. The Radical Body Network is now live on Facebook, so if you feel you would benefit from being part of the community, you can sign up and introduce yourself.

Ahead of the launch, Radical Body founder Katie Walters told more about her experiences as a disabled performance poet, and what she hopes the network will achieve. 


When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I’m a professional poet. Technically that’s true – I write poems, and people pay me to do it. But saying it doesn’t feel very honest, because I’m only a part-time poet, and I have another, full-time job. I rarely discuss this, because most people don’t understand how it’s a full-time job to be a cripple.

I don’t like describing my disability as a job, because it feels like ceding something to capitalism, which is inherently hostile to disabled people. But calling it work helps non-disabled people to understand its value. Put simply, I spend a lot of my time doing or thinking things that other people just don’t have to do – a concept that disabled people often refer to as “crip time”.

Theoretically, time is objective, but in practice we’re all aware that how we understand time depends on what we’re doing with it. An hour is a long time to brush your teeth, but a short time to write an essay.

Everyone has 24 hours in the day, and in that time, we’re expected to travel to and from work, work for seven hours, make and eat three meals, take a shower, maybe do some laundry, exercise, socialise and do it all again tomorrow. If we measure time by how long it takes to do things, it would take me about a week to get done what a non-disabled person can achieve in 24 hours.

I’m good at writing and performing poetry, but I struggle with the other things you have to do to be a professional poet. As an emerging artist, I found it incredibly difficult to access resources designed to support people starting out in their career. There are also a lot of things you’re expected to do, like getting out and consuming as much art as possible, going to open mic nights, meeting people and having the confidence to sell yourself to them.

Throughout my career, I’ve struggled with those things because I’m autistic. I don’t come over well in conversations. I don’t think I can make people understand what I’m about until they see my work. And then about three years ago, I developed a debilitating chronic illness, and things I had already been finding difficult became straight-up impossible. I lost the ability to do even basic things like cooking and cleaning. I couldn’t even think about going out.