The Fries Test: On Disability Representation

The Fries Test: On Disability Representation

Twenty years ago, I edited Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out, the first commercially published multi-genre anthology of writers with disabilities writing about disability. The anthology was published by Plume. In the introduction, I wrote: “Throughout history, people with disabilities have been stared out. Now, here in these pages — in literature of inventive form, at times harrowingly funny, at times provocatively wise — writers with disabilities affirm our lives by putting the world on notice that we are staring back.”

Call and Response

Call and Response

The entire play is built on this invisible structure of call and response.  The call is the spoken word. The response is flesh.  The word made flesh.  It is tied to the Yoruban concept of Nommo, which loosely translated means: “speaking makes it so.”  Nommo is also a Dogon word from Mali that refers to the power of words to create reality and build community.  You will also find this idea in the book of Genesis.

Ohio, The Election, 2004, The ReMix: How I Came Looking

Ohio, The Election, 2004,  The ReMix: How I Came Looking

The ReMix begins: 2004 draft cuts: (in parens)– 2017 adds: IN CAPS:

After the election, I saw and felt a frozenness–I NEEDED (wanted) poetry (to arrive and speak to me–) to convert (a tableau of different shades of) dread to (a weave of) courage and CUT A PATH TO transformation. TO ROAR. I wanted something to take AND SPEAK the pain, (naturally).  And poetry can hold IT (every complex yearning).

Letter from London: Reflections on Writers’ Reputations, Graves, Love Affairs, Accents, and a Murder, in No Particular Order

Letter from London: Reflections on Writers’ Reputations, Graves, Love Affairs, Accents, and a Murder, in No Particular Order

Moving back to London requires minimal adjustment, it’s as easy (as a writer once said about revision, compared to first draft composing) as sliding into a bath of warm oatmeal. No culture shock save for the first instant of wondering why dogs and babies are driving cars; all you have to do is exercise a little preliminary caution crossing the street and you’re done. Or maybe some mild culture shock, over here in the Land of Other People’s Problems, to learn exactly what the tabloid media judges important. “Horror on No. 77!” shrieks the top headline in the Evening Standard, the free newspaper everyone reads on the Tube going home after work.

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