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.”
A college professor of mine, the indomitable Beth McCoy at Geneseo, liked to use the word “unpack.”
“Unpack that statement for us,” she’d say in class, meaning, Give us the meat. Tell us how you got there, what it means.
There is a stack of summer books on the floor still to return to the library, that have reached their renewal limit, overdue.
This ain’t the Ivy League, there’s no huge endowment here, but there’s no slaveholders either.
I was at a Springsteen concert recently. One of his most famous songs — Hungry Heart — usually leads to him falling back onto the audience.
The link between a sense of purpose, the military, absent fathers, religious fundamentalism, and even prison, seems to me to be a sort of human need for authority…
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).
“I don’t know where to begin because I have nothing to say…”
is the opening line from an essay by the poet, Mary Reufle, called “Madness, Rack, and Honey” which meditates, among other things, on metaphors, an ad for a Coach bag, the correlation between suicide and literacy, and wasting time. It’s a good read.
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.
This week, following the U.S. President’s pro-white nationalist tantrum before the press in the wake of the Charlottesville terrorist attack (remarkably deemed as such by Attorney General Jeff Sessions), it seems that we are witnessing a regression of a whole different order of magnitude.
How are you, my fellow writer? This past spring, at my annual physical exam, I was given a questionnaire I was to fill and hand to the nurse before proceeding to the doctor’s office. I have been with the same practitioners since 2009, and this was the first time they asked about my emotional well-being.
Dear John McCain:
I think of your tap code late at night when I am lonely. You broken and spent in the Hanoi Hilton tapping out “Are you okay?” to the guy on the other side of the wall.
“My name is Ernie Brace,” the taps from the prison cell next to you kept declaring. “My name is Ernie Brace.” “My name is Ernie Brace.” Then sobs. Ernie Brace so overwhelmed by human contact he could only tap his name.
Last night around a campfire, I bonded with our Bedouin guide (عبت) over Arabian Sands. He said the book, which he re-reads often, captures Bedouin culture like a zoom lens (his words) and the changing culture of Arabia like a crystal ball (mine). Thesiger wasn’t the first explorer to cross the Empty Quarter, but he has become arguably the most famous. And he opened up this place for me. Last night I danced in a dishdasha, drank fresh milk from goats, and watched the sunset from towering dunes of powder-like sand.
Aristotle’s Poetics. Horace’s Ars Poetica. Freytag’s diagram. Syd Field’s paradigm. Frank Daniel’s sequence approach. For more than two millennia dramatic theorists have sought to trace, map and/or illustrate the shape and technical elements of a story told in dramatic form.
Dear MFAW people,
I’m guessing that, for the majority of you, your first desire to write was a way to express an emotion that you were having difficulty feeling or understanding.