* Autobiography is a very original text for a number of reasons. Although there are many wonderful disability activists writing today, few of these have cerebral palsy and fewer are writing poetry. The primary method for "telling ones life" is memoir.
Autobiography directly confronts an abliest culture, not theoretically but through direct example of a so-called "impaired" woman as she moves through the landscape of motherhood, marriage, romance, work, and sexuality.
Neither completely narrative nor experimental "Autobiography" is a mix of a "story" of an alternate body told through both form and content.
In the tradition of Larry Eigner (a poet with severe cerebral palsy associated with Black Mountain and Olson's Projective Verse) Bartlett creates a new form and grammar that reflects what it would mean to write through a body with cerebral palsy. She writes:
a movement spastic
is its own lyric and
the able-bodied are
She confronts her oppressors:
To be crippled means to be institutionalized, infantilized, unemployed, outcast, feared, marginalized, fetishized, desexualized, stared at, excluded, silenced, aborted, sterilized, stuck, discounted, teased, voiceless, disrespected, raped, isolated, undereducated, made into a metaphor or an example. To be crippled means to be referred to as retard, cute, helpless, lame, bound, stupid, drunk, idiot, a burden on society, in/valid. To be crippled means to be discounted as a commodity or regarded as mere commodity.
The second half of the collection is Anti-Autobiography. This part of the collection explores, not our differences, but our commonalities. Anti-Autobiography means to tell a story that can be told by anyone. Bartlett's particular story is one of a friend passing away from HIV/AIDS, another addicted to sex, and her own challenges with motherhood, an open marriage, nature, and books.Although these are particulars, the common link is suffering, happiness, and the overall getting through life. As Robert Grenier writes his preface to the book:
What is ‘my lot’ ? What’s in ‘a lot’ ? AND
Into which each has been ‘thrown’—but then, how/what to say to/of it(including love poems, if it comes to that, for some other mortal/human) . . . is articulated here admirably, beginning to end !
It is nearly impossible for me not to give books away, however, because I am "in charge" of distribution, I have to be strict with myself. I am able to send potential educators a PDF. However, if you are interested in teaching it, please also buy a hard copy. Also, think of requiring your students to buy a copy, All "proceeds" will go to a second printing, and to fund my Larry Eigner biography (since I have a publisher but no institutional backing.)
I also want to make the book ACCESSIBLE TO ALL. If anyone has ideas of how to make this work, let me know.