The Danger of Inaccurate Words

At the end of an interview for a prestigious residency, I mention my physical access needs, making it clear that I can walk and manage some stairs. “We’ve had wheelchair-bound fellows before,” my interviewer tells me. As soon as I hear her say “wheelchair-bound,” I...

Disability Representation in Literature:  Beyond “The Fries Test”

As a disabled writer, for over two decades I’ve looked at how disability is represented in our literature. This interest has taken me across the globe, with a special focus in disability representation in Japan, and more recently in Germany. I’ve taught classes and given talks on disability representation at many universities and conferences in North America, Japan, and Europe.

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.”

What’s Wrong with This Photograph?

Goddard College MFAW faculty member Kenny Fries: The editor wanted to crop the photograph so it only showed, close-up, the lower portion of the photograph, which showed my cane and shoes. Next to it would be a similarly cropped version of a photo of South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius, taken long before his trial for murdering his girlfriend.

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