The first four chapbooks from Unrestricted Editions

We are thrilled to announce the publication of four chapbooks from Unrestricted Interest student-writers under the imprint Unrestricted Editions. Each has been designed, in collaboration with the student-writers, by celebrated book designer Mary Austin Speaker. Stay tuned for information about upcoming book launch events and let us know if you'd like to host a launch party in your area. We are deeply proud of these student-writers and all they've accomplished. These books will transform your understanding of autistic imagination, humor, resilience, and love. 



Unrestricted Interest @ The Minnesota Autism Conference

Last weekend, teaching-writers Chris Martin and Brian Laidlaw presented at the 21st Annual Minnesota Autism Conference. Their presentation, "Turning Perseveration into Creativity," focused on how repetition and so-called "restricted interests" are both crucial to the structure of poetry and song. What would a villanelle be without repetition? Isn't rhyme basically perseverative? And don't these cyclical preoccupations help ground the writing and make its concerns immediately legible for the reader or listener? With all their experience as celebrated poets and songwriters (and teachers) behind them, Chris and Brian gave a definitive answer: yes. 

Unrestricted Interest @ MPR's Imagine Wellness

Teaching-writers Brian Laidlaw and Chris Martin made an appearance at MPR's Imagine Wellness event at the Minneapolis Institute of Art this week. Brian performed an original song and Chris read from his new collection of poems before they got to the main event: sharing poems from Unrestricted Interest student-writers! They read four student poems, including verse on Australian Dog Heaven, the growing love of a boy seeped in the Simpsons, and two poems on metamorphosis. Here is the final poem they shared, from Ascendigo's Zach DeMeo: 

New Year's Poem


I think winter’s cocoon

is bright yellow

as it turns into spring.


I think spring’s cocoon

is full of life

as it turns into summer.


I’m thinking summer’s cocoon

is only live (like a concert) in love

as it turns into autumn.


I kind of think fall’s cocoon

is blooming to the more cold

as it turns into winter.


I think the more

I make love a part

of my world

I’ll be happy.



In October Unrestricted Interest visited Ascendigo in gorgeous Carbondale, CO to help install a tailored creative writing curriculum. We spent ten days with Ascendigo, training their talented staff to facilitate creative writing and working directly with their equally talented clients to produce original poems and songs. 

For the next six months Unrestricted Interest teaching-writers will work with Ascendigo clients each week over Skype to develop literacy skills, improve creative writing, and maximize their expressive potential. Two months in and this partnership has already fostered dozens of poems and the creation of more than sixteen original poetic forms!


On December 5th Unrestricted Interest teaching-writers Chris Martin and Brian Laidlaw presented an evening lecture on autism and the language arts for the Center for Engaging Autism, hosted by the Academy of Whole Learning. 

Attendees renewed their appreciation for poetry and song, while learning how these two art forms are ideal vehicles to help facilitate creative expression in the autism community. 

Unrestricted Interest @ the Southern Poverty Law Center

Check out Unrestricted Interest teaching-writer Chris Martin's first blog post for Teaching Tolerance, an anti-bias blog from the Southern Poverty Law Center. His post dispels some popular misconceptions about the potential of people with autism and illustrates new research on the reciprocity between autism and poetry. This is a call to radically rethink our approach and our assumptions:

Let’s give people with autism more opportunities to demonstrate what they feel, what they imagine, what comes naturally to them through humor and the language of sensory experience. As we learn more about autism, let’s not forget to learn from those with autism. There are poets walking among you and they have much to teach.

Unrestricted Interest @ Carleton College

Unrestricted Interest teaching-writer Chris Martin will present on the surprising reciprocity between poetry and autism at Carleton College's annual faculty retreat in early September. He will talk about several new developments linking poetry to autism and vice-versa, including: 

  • Recent studies linking right hemisphere dominance with an affinity for metaphor
  • How Intense World Theory may find its ideal context within the constraints of a poem
  • The gift of linguistic materiality prevalent in students with autism
  • How poets and people with autism share an affinity for vertical thinking and generative perseveration