HASTINGS author and artist Fran Henke has a chapter in the new Australian anthology Growing Up Disabled in Australia.
The 320-page paperback has been published by Melbourne publisher Morry Schwartz’s Black Inc and is the fifth in a series of “Growing Up…” titles.
Released in early February, it has already been reprinted after attracting wide-spread interest and praise including for its editor Carly Findlay OAM, a Melbourne writer and disability activist who has a rare genetic disorder that affects her skin and hair.
Mrs Henke is an activist too – for polio survivors who in later life experience post-polio syndrome and a wide range of symptoms that include new weakening of muscles including respiratory muscles, fatigue, joint degeneration and more.
She has advocated for polio survivors for more than 20 years both privately and publicly, and has written extensively on the subject.
Mrs Henke’s essay is a matter of fact but also poignant story charting her life from when she contracted polio at age three when living in Gippsland to now aged in her 70s.
The condition has not stopped her having a varied career as a journalist in the United Kingdom and Australia as well as writing 23 books, gaining a visual arts diploma in her late 60s, and volunteering for many community groups. She is also an accomplished photographer.
Growing Up… contains contributions from 48 people, whittled down from more than 360 submissions.
Carly Findlay states in her introduction that “the people in this book are disabled, chronically ill, mentally ill and neurodiverse, and inhabit the city, regional and rural regions and Aboriginal communities”.
“They span generations – some are elders and some are still growing up – and genders, cultures and sexualities. I hope the book creates a sense of identity, pride and belonging to a community – for the contributors and for readers.”
The book includes interviews with high-profile Australians Senator Jordon Steele-John and Paralympian Isis Holt, both of whom are affected by cerebral palsy, as well as poetry, graphic art and more than 40 original pieces by writers with a disability or chronic illness.
RRP: $29.99 (book), $12.99 (ebook).