I thoroughly enjoyed this poem because I feel like in a way it acts as a kind of “full circle” moment for our class. The poem itself is assigned reading on the last day of our class meeting and it touches on the topics we talked about and discussed all the way back in week one. The poem itself obviously touches on how our society makes individuals with a disability feel isolated or like the “other” and it also touches on labels associated with disabilities. (another thing we talked about in the first few weeks of class) The poem itself not only talks about these topics and provides commentary on them eloquently, but it’s also acting as a test for oursleves and our class as a whole. When we first started taking part in this course, we (or at least I) knew very little about disabilities and the way our society responds to and reacts to them but now we (again maybe it’s just myself) are fully able to pick apart and understand what the author is talking about. We are able to show how we ourselves have grown and gained knowledge on the subject and that’s a beautiful thing.
It has been great getting the chance to share my thoughts with you all while we’ve been in this class together. I’ve not only received a lot of helpful feedback on my posts, but you all made great posts on here as well and it’s been really fun getting the chance to hear your thoughts on the readings we’ve done. I hope you all have a great break and here’s hoping we’ll get another class together.
Until next time 🙂
Okay so the reading that stood out to me the most this week was actually An Unkindness of Ghosts, but I wanted to write about Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay’s “Misfit” in part because I found it to not only be very intriguing, but also because I found myself struggling to understand what it was saying. Now this of course is not an insult to the author, but rather an admission that I myself am not the best when it comes to decoding the meaning of poetry. That being said, I’d like to offer up what I think the poem is saying. The poem opens with lines essentially stating how the Earth revolves round and round, and from it stars recede, night and day are formed, and nothing goes wrong. However, Mukhopadhyay immediately follows this up with a ferocious contradiction in which he says that when he himself spins round and round, men and women stare and him and they label him a misfit. I believe Mukhopadhyay is using this stark contrast as a way to provide some type of commentary on Autism and how it is perceived by our society. Maybe he is saying that when the world turns round and round, no one bats an eye, but when he turns round and round, he’s suddenly labeled as an outcast? I may be reaching but it’s the best I was able to come up with. This then brings me to the last two stanzas of the poem. Mukhopadhyay turns into the wind after being called a misfit, but I am struggling to understand the significance of it or what it means. The final stanza of the poem leads me to believe that I am at least heading in the right direction, but I can’t say I know for sure.
If anyone is able to clarify the meaning of the poem for me or offer up their interpretation of it, I would love to hear it and I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.
With her poem “Symptoms,” Lambeth not only discusses the hardships that are associated with ancient women’s clothing, but also connects said hardships to the topic of disability. Lambeth clearly states his distain for ancient women’s fashion when she states that rather than having hooks and laces, it only has “spaces of remission, then relapse,” and when she discusses how the clothing can “rub and pull naked skin, saying, ‘now and then you must try to feel through this, and this‘.” She discusses how all of the fabric that she is forced to wear oftentimes leads to her leaning on a wall for support. Lambeth then connects her poem to the topic of disability when she states that all of the clothes she must wear often leads to her sporting a cane and when she says “Fix my mouth in a loose pout when speech eludes its muscles, tired, stiff as the garments that hold me.” With these quotes, Lambeth is providing her stance on ancient woman’s clothing and how it relates to and can even cause physical disabilities. On top of this, Lambeth also provides commentary on how other people view these disabilities in the fact that’s she says “The cure is rest, they tell me.”
The Woman Hanging From The Thirteenth Floor Window by Joy Harjo deals with a speaker grieving her of sense of belonging and now is experiencing a sense of severe loneliness. As readers venture further into the poem, they quickly realize why the woman is preparing to jump, as Harjo states “she thinks she will be set free.” The poem deals with underlying themes of when individuals are taken out of their homes and what they know and how that can drive them to experience the very negative effects of solidarity. This is even represented in the poem with the way it handles Lake Michigan. In some places on the lake, the woman found a sense of comfort along the shores, but when she sees the lake in the present moment, as she prepares to jump she describes it as “a dizzy hole of water.” This contrast acts as a way for Harjo to show the stark difference between the speaker’s mental state with the calm, past waters representing a sense of knowing, and the vicious, crashing, present waters representing a sense of feeling lost. By having her poem include two endings, the author allows her readers to not only get a happy ending that they are probably hoping for, but she also gets the, to open their eyes to the very real, very grim effects that isolation and loneliness can have on some individuals.
In her poem “Nondisabled Demands,” author Jillian Weise points out just how much individuals with disabilities are expected to label themselves as disabled or prove to others that they have some sort of social value. In lines such as “It’s not fair,” and “You can’t expect people to read you / if you don’t come out and say it,” Weise is communicating that nondisabled people almost expect disabled individuals to reveal their disabilities to prove some kind of worthiness. What speaks volumes is that when describing the motivations behind making this poem, Weise is quoted saying that “This poem comes from real advice and performance art. Someone told me I had to come out and state my disability in every poem I write.” What’s also worth noting is that in an attempt to avoid situations such as these, Weise actually began writing under the pseudonym Tipsy Tullivan, a nondisabled writer, someone almost completely different than the true Weise. With her poem, Weise essentially argues that a disabled individual shouldn’t need to come out or be labeled as such, they are people just like anyone else.
With her poem Hypoesthesia, author Laurie Clements Lambeth is attempting to portray to her readers, what he life is like with a physical disability that can often result in pain and loss of physical sensation. Lambeth’s poem discusses the subject matter in a very personal way and brings to life the disability that is part of her everyday life. In her poem, Lambeth is striving to portray to readers the lack of sensation and her inability to share life’s most intimate moments with her significant other. With her poem, Hypoesthesia, Laurie Clements Lambeth is not only describing to readers what having this disability is like, but she is getting them as close as possible to understanding how her disability negatively affects her life.
Society has an issue with categorizing people into groups based on a myriad of qualifiers that often times never benefit those being categorized in any meaningful way. Instead, those people end up sidelined in decisions made about them, for them, but almost never with them. This can lead to a feeling of those with disabilities feeling ostracized (intentionally or not) from society. Ayisha Knight’s poem focuses on the aspects about herself that seemingly put her outside of society—and while those aspects are all things of herself she cannot change, and everything wrong about her cannot be fixed—nor should it—that is often the case in the way society expects those that are different from the norm to act, behave, or adjust themselves to. When a person can’t (and preferably, won’t) fit those norms, society expects them to become a silent voice in the crowd, and while Knight is literally a silent voice in the crowd, she is the one speaking the loudest.
She opens her poem and spends roughly the first half of it bringing up fears about expressing herself against a push back that claims those very things that are wrong about her aren’t… wrong enough even though those very things are labeled upon her by the very ones telling her what is wrong. Very comparable to the way in which many people with disabilities are overlooked, unheard, or at times downright ignored in ways that seem to make those around them more comfortable in an odd better-for-society kind of way. Knight pushes through those boundaries and societal setbacks come the second half of her poem when she makes her voice truly heard without speaking a single word when she owns and accepts the truths about herself. It shows that even those with disabilities not only have their own thoughts, dreams, and everything else that makes them no different from anyone else, but when there’s a will, there’s a way to express those thoughts. But first, everyone (including herself) else must first be willing to listen.
There is also a strong contrast between the audience that Knight’s poem is directed at (society and they/them) and the actual crowd attending her reading that’s worth noting. It’s obvious that there are many people that don’t agree with the set standard of societal norms of how any given person should exist—namely those that Knight touches on in her poem regarding not only her deafness, but her race, gender, sexuality and even femininity—so it’s odd how when she is viewed as a whole that is comprised of all of those aspects, and when she can see herself as she so desires, and with so many others seeing her in the same light—we’re still faced with a societal divide. We still have classes focusing on disability discourse. We still have so many groups tirelessly advocating for the rights of those with disabilities (and everything else) and we still don’t seem any closer now than then.
Of course, certain people could make the argument that the crowd listening to her poem would rally behind her message because of course, seeing as they went out of their way to attend the reading—but those certain people are also annoying and easily ignored, so. Either way, the people that matter, and the actual means in which Knight is expressing herself are at least attempting to start the fire. Just need the right spark.
Word Count: 571
I pledge: D. Huffman