The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Allison Boot, Katherine Gaffney share literary works at Pygmalion day 3

Angel Saldivar
Young adult novelist Allison Boot shares her literary works at the Urbana Free Library on Saturday. Boot is also known as the “Wheelin’ Wordsmith”.

Young adult novelist Allison Boot and poet Katherine Gaffney read their works to the Champaign-Urbana community at the Urbana Free Library Saturday afternoon as part of this year’s Pygmalion festival.

Inside the Busey Mills Reading Room, a receptive crowd gathered to listen to the reading.

Boot, also known as the “Wheelin’ Wordsmith,” primarily writes novels featuring characters with disabilities. She also is a coordinator of the annual Disability Resource Expo. She is publishing her fourth book in December.

Gaffney, a University alum who has returned as a lecturer, published her new book “Fool in a Blue House” this year, earning a prize with the Tampa Review. The disability scholar writes poetry that highlights personal life experiences.

Boot began the event by reading her author’s note in her book, “The Magic Within.” In it, she said she was inspired to write this book when she found users in cerebral palsy Facebook groups who were trying to “cure” people with disabilities. 

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She said that there are many unique benefits to being a person with a disability, including the development of skills such as resourcefulness. 

During her reading, Boot said, “I tear up with the belief that someday the world might not have the unique perspective a disability gives.”

Gaffney continued by reading poems about womanhood, family and caring for her mother’s health from “Fool in a Blue House.”

Gaffney read from the poem “My Mother.” 

“My mother measures success by claiming she can do it in high heels,” Gaffney said.

Following their readings, the writers held a Q&A, asking one another questions and taking questions from the audience about their career and their writing habits.

Boot said she began writing at the age of 9 because she hadn’t seen her experience represented in the books she read. Boot said she writes in order to promote equity and because she doesn’t want children to be raised fearing disability. 

Gaffney said she wishes she had the discipline of daily writing that Boot has. She said she’s always “oscillating between spells of reading and spells of writing.” In response, Boot said, “It’s a daily practice when life allows it to be.”

The event ended with a book signing where Boot signed the Urbana Free Library’s copy of her book. The two spoke with audience members individually, thanking them and writing personal notes in their books.


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About the Contributor
Angel Saldivar, Assistant Photo Editor
My name is Angel Saldivar and I'm nearing the end of my Journalism degree at the University of Illinois and currently serve as the Assistant Photo Editor at the Daily Illini. When I'm not out taking photos, I'm diving into filmmaking with my film club (shoutout Illini Film and Video) or playing the drums. Got questions or just want to connect? Don't hesitate to email me!
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