Maddie’s Major Project: A poem and A Painting

As we have talked about frequently in this course, the discussion surrounding disability is frequently led and had be those who do not have a disability. Simi Linton in her paper, “Reassigning Meaning” discusses how the disabled community is making moves to reclaim the topic of disability by replacing word that were previously seen as derogative or “inappropriate” to take back the discussion of disability. I chose to create a piece that discusses the presence of disabled voice in disabled literature, and how the nondisabled community seeks to maintain control of a group they are not involved with.
The poem, written in prisoner’s constraint style, is mean to signify the intentions of the disabled, speaking out against the society that places them in a box that they have made, giving them a role to play that they did not get to choose. In a way, this poem is also a response to Jillian Weise’s “Nondisabled Demands,” combating the role that the nondisabled are playing in that poem with the voice of the disabled. The format of the poem, however, indicates that the place the disabled are being pushed into is still heavily active, despite the voices from the disabled to seek their own voice and name themselves.
To speak more specifically about the words in the poem, and the analysis of that piece itself, there is a high number of uniting pronouns like “we” and “us” while the “misnomers” are separate from the group speaking. While misnomers itself typically isn’t used to discuss people, it is also meant to symbolized terms that the nondisabled community attempts to give the disabled community in order to be “politically correct,” but, as the poem suggests, the disabled community is seeking to rise above that and wash that thinking clean. As we see by the large number of disabled authors we have read in this class, they seek to break away from the appraisal of the normal, the negative stereotyping, and tiptoeing done by the nondisabled. The presence of the poem at all is also meant to signify this same voice, as I am a student with a disability constructing this response and representing with what has resonated with me throughout this course.
I also hoped to portray commentary from Oscar Wilde’s “The Birthday of Infanta,” and Jillian Weise’s “The Old Questions,” discussing the fascination the non-disabled have with the disabled community and the need to place them on a stage for being different. The poem and its white space stand out, clearly the focal point of the piece, but all lowercase writing places it as something that isn’t attempting to jump out, but it’s rather been exposed by its placement.
The painting that contains this poem is meant to be a continuation of this theme. The straight lines that created the poem are meant to represent how society desires to place everything in an easy-to-define box, but the mixing of colors dictates that the intersectionality of society makes those boxes impossible to separate. By placing the poem in its own solid box of white, it also demonstrates how society, specifically the nondisabled community that chooses to write about characters with disabilities, views the stereotypes of the disabled as something “other” and what can only be held by those in that community.

we are visionaries

misnomers misname

us as semi-conscious


accuse us

smear our names

in awe we’ve risen

we recover our names

we move in

remove our “ruin”

we rain

we rinse

we rise

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