disability poetics

Pace and place: disability politics at desert speeds

An interview with Naomi Ortiz

A white Mestiza woman stands in the desert wearing a purple top and blue bandana
Naomi Ortiz

From belly button to umbilical cord to roots, Naomi Ortiz traces the relationships between body and place in her work. In the opening of Sustaining Spirit, Ortiz asks: “¿y donde esta tu ombligo? Where are you centered or rooted?

Cripping global queer, antiracist, and decolonial coalitions

A review of 'Crip Times' after 'Beauty is a Verb'

McRuer’s book, for instance, in many ways mirrors and departs from Beauty is a Verb: like the anthology, it opens with a historical excavation of policy change and arts-based responses, even overlapping with key figures, such as Petra Kuppers, who appear in Beauty is a Verb. However, it departs from an Americanist context of poetry, opening instead with a European-based history of neoliberal propaganda that he contrasts with emergent arts forms from crip activists.

An introduction to 'Discordance'

Two high-arched club feet in neon socks, one pink and one yellow, interlock.

Disability is often perceived as deviance from some encoded norm; I know this as a disabled person who is regularly referred to as “weird.” Perhaps some people mean my large hair or loud clothing, but many are employing a euphemism to refer to my purple wheelchair or stumbling gait. Dear reader, I have used a disabled “I” so soon so you might know that this series is committed to the disability rights mantra “Nothing about us without us!” even as the “I” and “us” and “you” in this series are unstable (literally … you should see the scabs on my legs). 

Bodies, like poems, always mean what they ceaselessly say: that even if they could speak — and they can — we would not understand them. — Craig Dworkin, “The Stutter of Form”

On being 'ill'-informed

H.D.'s late modernist poetics (of) d'espère

Image of H.D. above originally published in 'Tendencies in Modern American Poetry' by Amy Lowell, 1917; accessed via Wikimedia Commons.

In The H.D. Book, Robert Duncan aptly terms the work that H.D. produced during and after World War II a poetics of “testimony.”[1] In the last twenty years of her life, she experimented with new hybrid forms in both poetry and prose, writing major innovative works that bore witness to the public and shared trauma of World War II and responded to the ensuing rise of the Cold War. She was also increasingly chronicling the private trauma of disabling conditions following the war.[2

Illness is not a metaphor. — Susan Sontag

Illness is a kind of knowledge. — Anonymous 

I

Distances quickly crossed

A review of Larry Eigner's 'Calligraphy Typewriters'

Photo of Larry Eigner © Alastair Johnston.

In 2010, Stanford University Press published The Collected Poems of Larry Eigner and the book’s faithful editors, Curtis Faville and Robert Grenier, had every right to expect both showers of attention and hosannas of praise. Though Eigner did not win any awards in his lifetime, he enjoyed a remarkable succes d’estime, first amongst the Black Mountain poets and then with the Language school.

Performing crip/queer survival

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha's 'Bodymap'

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s new book of poetry, Bodymap, insists we understand technology as “the practical application of knowledge.” This makes it possible for us to view survival as a set of skills and aesthetics, not as an end. Bodymap is a performance and a text, a love song to and an archive of working-class femme-of-color disabled experiences. Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha uses her hybrid poetic form and structure to center assistance and interdependency as a site of politicized cultural knowledge production, equipping oppressed individuals and communities with a multiplicity of generative “methods.”

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