S166. Outside the Umbrella: Poetry and the Vantage Point of the Atypical

Room 207B, Washington Convention Center, Level Two
Saturday, February 11, 2017
10:30 am to 11:45 am


What does it mean to write poems from what disability studies scholar Simi Linton called “the vantage point of the atypical?” How do body/mind differences that fall outside the umbrella of normality serve as fonts for work by non-normative poets? These are some of the questions that four noted crip poets brought into a year-long correspondence in prose and poems. The poets share some of that work and discuss ways the differences called “disability” complicate and enrich their lives and work.



Jim Ferris is author of poetry collections Slouching Towards Guantanamo, Facts of Life, and The Hospital Poems. Past president of the Society for Disability Studies, he holds the Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies at the University of Toledo.

Leilani Hall is the author of the poetry collection Swimming the Witch. Her work has appeared in the anthologies In a Fine Frenzy and The Norton Mix. She directs the creative writing program at Cal State University Northridge, where she was awarded the Faculty Scholars Award for her work in disability studies.

Stephen Kuusisto is the author of the memoirs Planet of the Blind (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year) and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light, and Letters to Borges. He teaches at Syracuse University.

Sheila Black coedited Beauty Is a Verb: New Poetry of Disability. She is the author most recently of poetry collections Love/Iraq and Wen Kroy. She is a 2012 Witter Bynner Fellow in poetry selected by Philip Levine.


March 4–7, 2020
San Antonio, TX

Henry B. González Convention Center