Cow Tipping Press is a nonprofit press based in Minneapolis that provides writing and publishing opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.
It recently hosted “Cowchella,” its second annual literary and music festival, which is the culmination of a summer-long writing program. It featured live readings by more than 20 authors with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
“It's basically to both introduce new voices that we don't always get to hear from into the writing scene, and also kind of that with a broader goal of changing the way we as a society look at developmental disability,” said writing teacher Elyssa Cook.
Elyssa taught one of the several writing classes for the authors and says she found it to be a phenomenal experience. She says that the students were all willing to learn from each other and created a positive environment. Her students’ writings were published in Buying the Gorilla, one of the four books released.
“It's generally a college-aged teacher for the creative writing classes,” explained Elyssa. “And then all these students have varying ages and life experiences. And presumably, the teacher is guiding the class, but I'm under no illusion that my students learned more than I did. They were constantly teaching me new things and just shocking me with their writing prowess.”
Cook hopes that her students will be inspired to continue writing and performing.
“I would just love to see them keep writing, just because of the incredible growth and confidence in finding their own poetic voices in just the five weeks that I got to teach them. I would love to see them continue honing their craft because they're amazing. I have so much love and care for them.”