Beauty Is A Verb: The New Poetry of Disability

Edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black and Michael Northen. Cinco Puntos (Consortium, dist.), $19.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-935955-05-4
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This powerful anthology attempts to—and succeeds at—intimately showing (meaning, at various times and among many other aims, sharing the experience of, defining the self in terms of, refusing to define the self in terms of, trying to define, exploring the indefiniteness of) disability through the lenses of poetry. According to the editors’ preface, “we include not only poets who created and embrace the disability/ crip poetics movement but also those who might resist such a classification and have never been considered in that exact context.” Indeed, some readers and writers may strongly resist the idea of disability as a context for gathering poems, though what emerges from the book as a whole is a stunningly diverse array of conceptions of self and other. There are no simple truths here. Jim Ferris insists readers “Look with care, look deep./ You know you are a cripple too. / I sing for cripples; I sing for you.” The poet and novelist Jillian Weise bucks at the “disability poetics” banner in an essay in which she says “I…find it discouraging that these first efforts are essentializing, seeking to brand a common disabled experience.” Coming from across the aesthetic spectrum, these poets and poems demonstrate the deep truth of what Vassar Millar writes in a poem anthologized here: “No man’s sickness has a synonym.” (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/19/2011
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Fiction
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