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.”

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.

On Survival: Dear John McCain

On Survival: Dear John McCain

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. 

Literary Traveler

Literary Traveler

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.

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