Thursday, February 25, 2010

Interview with Sunny Taylor

I interviewed the artist Sunny Taylor on disability at This is the feministing website. Here, Sunny touches on how she views disability as a social construct.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Choose Your own Adventure Blog

If you want to read about whether on not my book blurb in ableiest, scroll down. If yr. looking for poems, scroll a little further. If you want read a great post by Paul Guest go here If you are looking for yoga/disability stuff go here If you want to here more blabbiety-blab of my perception of disability, stay here.


It may or may not be bodily impairments that created the idea of the shut-in. Whatever impairments one might have, as Sunny Taylor notes, it is arguable that the body is 'disabled' by a societal construction which includes 'abled' people not wanting to be in the presence of 'disabled' people. Hence, the 'abled' people have created (historically) an archetectural landscape that is geared toward those who 'walk' without assistance. This may be a chicken/egg thing. But, it is no accident. The so-called norm doesn't want to look at the so-called disabled, which are merely reminders of their own eroding bodies. so, except forced by law, they create an environment meant to exclude everyone who is not spry and sexy. This does not only apply to people with disabilities, but parents of small children, older people, and people who are more than average weight. In a certain sense, archetecture in America is a reflection of Elle magazine!


But why would the so-called abled not want to be in the presence of the so-called disabled?

a. No one who makes it to an age much older than Janis, Jimmy, and Jim will be able to stop their own bodily eroding. At some point, they will loss sight, hearing, walking. No one is immune to some form of 'crippling.' People fear this like the plague and the so-called 'disabled' are their reminders. If 'they' can keep their illusion of 'us' and 'them' they can hold onto their illusion that they will look like Kate Moss or Ashton Kushner well into their 80's.


The so-called abled have not knowledge of the 'disabled.' This, again, is partially because we are strongly segregated. We are discouraged from participating fully in society. Ironically, people, without knowing what I 'have' or even what cerebral palsy is, are perfectly comfortable in making a list of assumptions about me (all wrong) to my face.


People insist that abled/disabled is a dicotomy and abled is 'always' better. Yes, many, many people who are disabled are suffering from impairments and do not want to be disabled and are in pain. Others are not. The entire Deaf community, for example, is based on an idea that does not privledge hearing. If you watch a film like 'Sound and Fury' you will see how/why many Deaf parents actively do not what their Deaf children to be 'cured.' I think many people with cerebral palsy have a likewise idea. I fear that without cerebral palsy, I would not be a 'whole' person. I might be an uninteresting airhead! Disability has added so much beauty and depth to my life.


I AM NOT ASSUMING (just guessing) that there is a strong division between those who are born/those who become disabled. Those born might be inclined to think of their disabled bodies as whole. Those who become disabled are affected not only by a new body, also by an mourning process for what was. To me, to say, would you rather be 'abled' is like saying would I rather be Jewish or gay or a man. How the fuck would I know?

That's all for now.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Some New Poems

These are poems from what maybe my third (or fourth) book, Autobiography. My second book, (a) lullaby without any music is forthcoming in 2011 from Chax.


I was born dead.

It is said that those who remember their own births are liars.

I do not remember this event -- it is merely a story presented to me
that, in the recalling, becomes part of memory.

The facts are superfluous; one is born, one dies
how one arrives is without meaning.

If you, reader, do not believe in purpose, my cerebral palsy was a mere fluke;
there was no operating room available to give my mother the required c-section.

If you do believe in purpose, as I do, the accidental was born of necessity. 

It is either as simple as this -- or it isn't.


to walk means to fall
to thrust forward

to fall and catch

the seemingly random
is its own system of gestures

based on a series of neat errors
falling and catching

to thrust forward

sometimes the body misses
then collaspes

the body shatters

it has knowledge embedded it
of recalling how to shatter

and reform

the movement is angular
                        and unwieldly

it is its own lyric and
the able-bodied are

tone-deaf to this singing  


to be crippled means to have a window
into the insanity of the able-bodied

to be crippled means to
see the world slowly and manically

                        to translate           
to record
                        to adapt

to be crippled means to have
access to people's fear

of their own eroding


so that, the mother might
say your child must be angry

because you are disabled

so I told her, your child
must be angry

because you are a bitch

and the children ask
why do you talk like that?

and i ask them
why do you talk like that?

and children grow up
thinking this body is ordinary


the body is composed primarily
of water and light

this is my body; I am its light

a mere shadow remains
so that, the body is erased

excepting movement

i am all motion and
this motion is neither weak nor hideous

this motion is simply my own


To be crippled means to be institutionalized, infantilized, unemployed, outcast, feared, marginalized, fetishized, desexualized, stared at, excluded, silenced, aborted, sterilized, medicalized, stuck, discounted, teased, voiceless, disrespected, used, raped, isolated, undereducated, used as a metaphor. To be crippled means to be referred to as retard, cute, helpless, lame, wheelchair 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 near miss
seemingly random

what appears chaos to the casual observer
is rather a neatly composed system of gestures

these accidents reside in me
the body keeps a list of them

what looks painful from a distance
is just the body reiterating itself


is it true that the crippled body
is much closer to enlightenment

by its mere gesture of
getting through this world

is it true that the crippled body
is much closer to death

                        that longing
that want for silence

not in a desire to disappear
but a fragility

these bones are as if birds
tiny and 
at any moment could take off in flight

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Paul Guest/ John Ashbery

Paul Guest has responded to my questioning of him letting Ashbery call him an invalid on his book jacket, and hence being mistaken for buying into the mainstream notion of what it means to be disabled. Guest doesn't confront the question, exactly. He does through out a number of insults throw, which is fine.

As I have said before, my bone isn't to pick with Guest. My problem is that there are very few people with disabilities in the mainstream, virtually none. So, it is alarming that when someone with a disability perpetuates the stereotype by allowing people to refer to them as invalids, which implies that we are unhealthy or to be pitied etc.. Guest states that he 'doesn't understand' this comment. Perhaps I think he doesn't. I am not sure if he's involved in any disability rights or has read any thinkers with disabilities. He still hasn't answered this question. To read people like Michael Davidson, Harriet McBrdye, and Simi Linton and disagree with them would be fine. Guest is part of a minority. If he doesn't want to represent the major ideas of that minority (that disability is largely a social construct and there is a difference between disability (society) and impairment (bodily)) that is fine, but why doesn't he want to at least acknowledge that there are other people with disabilities who have a different view? Why would he not what to hear these voices? This very attitude, that we are 'invalids' is what keeps society from treating us equal and what makes society able to resist the very same things that Guest complains about (non-accessible cabs). If we are able to convince the world that disabled people deserve civil rights, that it is more than just the personal problem, then cabs would be accessible. Note: Wheelchair users chained themselves to the street and went to jail to get the MTA to have assessible buses.

Guest notes, "That I'm not really cognizant of a word's weight or that I am aware in the most calculating, self-hating ways." But, he still hasn't addressed what the word means to him or why he thinks it's relevant when applied to him or the fact that (historically) people with disabilities are trying to dispel this myth. He hasn't explained, in short "Why?" Does he not see negetive value in the word? Would a woman be called 'bitch' on her book and not explain why it's appropriate?

The way Guest is shown in media seems to imply that he thinks his disability is the greatest tragdy of his life and he would give anything to be able-bodied. While I am not sure this is his perspective, he has done little to confront people like Mary Karr or Ashbery who imply this. And his publisher has made the perceived horror of disability into it's primary marketing point - which is unfair to Guest and other people with disabilities.

Many, many, many other people with disabilities do not want to be pitied or cured. We are happy/comfortable with our bodies. We don't want to be regarded as invalids.


Dear Curtis, RE Eigner, ok. You win.