The Amputee's Guide to Sex

Jillian Weise, Author . Soft Skull Press $14.95 (81p) ISBN 978-1-933368-52-8

In her charged and daring debut, Weise artfully interweaves biographical details with meditations on the history of disability and sex, laying bare the complexities of finding sexual and emotional intimacy as an amputee with a prosthetic leg. In three sections, her assured voice masterfully navigates the potential pitfalls of her subject matter—from the risk of self-pity (there is none here) to the difficulties of speaking for her community. In the first section, evidence of this speaker's disability is hidden, ignored, or the object of curiosity and desire ("Your favorite post-coital pastime/ is nicknaming my scars"); it is also a fiercely guarded possession ("...I caught/ you staring at the railroad tracks/ along my spine, and I thought/ Mine, mine "). Part two borrows impersonal medical language to poetically redress the terminology of pain: "When and how did your pain problem start? ... He met me in a dark alley." The third section imagines life and love alongside a character named "Holman." Weise also reproduces the cruelest examples of male fascination, as when the speaker's grandfather calls her the "prettiest cripple I ever seen." An agile and powerful poet, Weise references medical literature, history and poetry, speaking boldly and compassionately about a little-discussed subject that becomes universal in her careful hands. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/20/2006
Release date: 06/01/2007
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