Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Witcher (Netflix) and Ableism

Disclaimers:

1. I've never read any of The Witcher books, and the only video game I played of the series was the third one.
2.  Spoilers and ableism abound.
~*~
I liked The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, even with what I thought were a couple of hints of ableism. The world is massive, magic flows, and there still might exist a happily ever after for old, jaded heroes. I put many hours into the video game, so I thought the show would be enjoyable. I wasn't prepared for Yennefer.

Yennefer is the disfigured and disabled daughter of a poor farmer. People around her are cruel to her, and her own stepfather sells her to a witch for a song, not caring what the witch plans to do with her. But then, Yen is taken to a school for possible magic users. 

Yennefer exists in the video games as an able-bodied, non-disfigured sorceress who is quite bitchy. I wasn't even sure the character from the game and the character in the show were the same at first. But, they are. In a world of magic, I suppose no one believes there is a reason to stay in an imperfect body.

I watched on, hoping with a sinking feeling that it would be at least handled well. Yennefer gets a semi-boyfriend and gains a friend among the mages. She learns, even though she seems to possess only slight ability in the realm of magic, she is quite talented. She begins to flourish.

As she steps into her power, she becomes unbearable. She finds herself believing she is too good for the man who likes her (maybe). She sacrifices her friend when she figures out she has true power but her friend does not. Yennefer goes to a mage and gives up her fertility so he can make her appear "normal" and uses her new appearance to help her weasel her way into a better job.

I'm not a fan of "cure" narratives. There are plenty of other backstories to give a character to explain their motivations. But, no matter how much I dislike the idea of a cure being shoved into stories, what I really couldn't stand was how they made Yen insufferable and implied it was her disability/disfigurement causing her personality "issues". I understand past treatment and trauma can inform choices, but I felt it was sloppy writing. She's basically a crip with a chip on her shoulder while no longer being disabled/disfigured.

Ableist tropes all in one magical package of bullsh*t.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Insomnia; a Night of Reckoning by Robert Allen

Sleepless and hollow
I greet the dawn,
the sun burns hot in the hollow.
The day aches on until
sleepless I meet the night,
sleepless I meet the night,
head hollowed like open empty
palms,
a begging bowl, a dead balloon, a
broken heart.
~*~
Biography:  Robert Allen lives and loves with his family in northern California, where he writes poetry, takes long walks, and looks at birds.

Details at www.robertallenpoet.com



Thursday, April 1, 2021

Man Disabled by Deformity and Loneliness is Transformed into Monster: The Story of Frankenstein’s Creation by Kelley A Pasmanick

 A Literary Analysis of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

[H]ow was I terrified when I viewed myself in a transparent pool! At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification. Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity (emphasis mine). (94)

The above quotation from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is spoken by Victor Frankenstein’s creation and is of paramount importance in understanding how he perceives himself and provides insight into how others will perceive him. The creation characterizes his physical appearance as a deformity because by the time this particular story is told in the larger scheme of the novel, he already has a firm grasp of language and comprehends conceptually aesthetic standards of corporeal beauty. As such, when the creation sees his reflection in the pool of water, he has an epiphany; he realizes he does not look even remotely similar to anyone else around him. Thus, such an observation on the part of the creation foreshadows the manner in which he is and will be received by others, as something instead of someone, thereby bestowing on him a nonhuman presence. A distinction like this further implies that he is more of a creation than a male human being, and as a result, he is considered inferior and misshapen. Due to his aesthetically displeasing exterior, the creation is impaired because he understands the idea of difference and that he is not desired. He repulses himself because he, in a sense, is his body. He also drives away the various people with whom he interacts because he cultivates a fear of the unfamiliar in them, as well as in Frankenstein because he views the creation as a failed endeavor. Since the creation seems to be an object of disgust and horror to all of those with whom he comes into contact, he develops a consciousness that he is ugly and it is this low esteem in regard to his appearance that becomes a disability. The creation’s identity becomes more and more distorted, thereby stunting his personal growth insofar as he is unable to achieve a satisfying quality of life. The creation is forever devalued, unable to recover from the perpetually malevolent treatment to which he is exposed, and is ultimately doomed to lead a life of loneliness, where the loneliness acts as a secondary disability, ending only in death.

When first presented with a description of the creation, there is a stark contrast between Frankenstein’s characterization of the creation and what the creation is actually like when he meets his maker: “[A] grin wrinkled his cheeks…one hand was stretched out” (43). The creation’s first expression upon being brought into existence is a positive one; one could even deduce that it is a joyous one because a grin indicates a greater degree of happiness than a smile. Simply, he is pleased to just be and appears elated to see Frankenstein. In addition, when he stretches out his hand, he extends it in the direction of Frankenstein. Although seemingly by previous knowledge, since he has not yet had time to acquire it experientially, he appears to be introducing himself. He wants to make a good impression on the person in front of him, who, unbeknownst to him, is his creator. Both of the creation’s actions demonstrate goodness; he immediately attempts to forge an emotional and a physical connection, denoted by the grin and the outstretched hand, with the first person he meets. Furthermore, his actions convey proper decorum in a civilized society. Most importantly, they portray his humanity, discrediting Frankenstein’s view that he is the antithesis of a human being. Finally, from what one initially sees of the creation, one discovers that he is well-meaning, decent, and kind, traits that all connote that he is of a morally upright nature. It is evident that the creation is inherently good.

Comparatively, upon the awakening of the creation, Frankenstein’s first impressions of him suggest that the creation does not meet his expectations and is not what he had intended to originally create: “[N]ow that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart…I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it (emphasis mine) became a thing even Dante could not have conceived” (42-43). When Frankenstein views his conscious creation for the first time, he does not stop to think about the long and arduous process of creating the being, nor does he recognize that his endeavor is a success. He constructs a living being from dead tissues. He infers though, upon first glance, that the creation is a threat to him and is evil. He does not wait to see what else the creation is able to do after he “introduces” himself; he flees and in effect, abandons the creation. Frankenstein does not in any way validate the creation’s existence because he does not name him. He calls him it, a pronoun that is meant to signify an object or nothing in particular. In this way, the creation begins his life unacknowledged by his creator. The definition of it in no way refers to a living being, and such a designation on the part of Frankenstein confirms the creation’s later thoughts that he is to be detested. Moreover, by calling him it, he does not call him his; Frankenstein, upon its “birth” refuses to take ownership of his creation. He shirks his responsibility as creator, and consequently, as provider and teacher. Finally, by never referring to the creation as his creation, he does not have to admit to the gravity of his mistake, and his subsequent and frequent failures.

Upon meeting the creation for the first time since he abandoned him, Frankenstein is anything but kind, addressing him as “vile insect” (81). Such debasement from his creator relates to the creation’s first interaction with humans. He enters the hut of a shepherd and is quickly espied: “He perceiving me, shrieked loudly, and quitting the hut, ran across the fields with a speed of which his debilitated form hardly appeared capable” (87). Neither Frankenstein nor the shepherd bother to acquaint themselves with the creation; they let his appearance speak for him. Sadly, they assume that he is to be feared because he does not externally fit into the identical ideas or criteria of what a beautiful being is; his bodily appearance must match his personality and temperament. In effect, because he looks intimidating and dangerous, he must be. Furthermore, the shepherd and Frankenstein display identical behavior upon beholding the countenance of the creation. They run in fear and abandon him. The shepherd hurriedly exits his hut and never returns; he leaves the creation alone to wander just like Frankenstein does. In this way, a pattern begins to develop. For every action on the part of the creation, there is a reaction that is equal in the degree of intensity, yet opposite in intent. The pattern indicates that the creation runs to them, them signifying people, in general, and they do the contrary of his initial action by running from him. 

This theory is verified even when another variable is added to the equation: selflessness. The first instance of the creation putting others before himself is when he takes it upon himself to provide succor for the cottagers who reside by his hovel by collecting a more ample supply of firewood for them (92). The creation reasons that he is squatting on the cottagers’ land and wishes to contribute something in return. They are a great source of contentment for him, and he desires to augment their happiness. As a result of him collecting more firewood, they reap twice the benefits; they are warmer and will worry less, if not at all, about succumbing to an illness from extreme cold. Secondly, when the creation gathers kindling, the cottagers do not have to acquire it themselves and are able to devote more time to leisure, which in turn, improves their spirits. By aiding them, the creation demonstrates that he values their presence in his otherwise solitary and self-reliant life. He builds a connection with them, although from a distance that he has not previously had with anyone. The creation feels such a positive impact of the cottagers’ presence on his life and overall disposition that he dubs the cottagers his “protectors” (102). It can be argued though that he is protecting them just as much, if not more, than they are protecting him. A symbiotic relationship forms because the cottagers influence the creation and he affects them.

The human connection the creation builds with the cottagers one learns is, in fact, an illusion, since it is eventually shattered despite the creation’s efforts to live peacefully side by side both literally and figuratively next to his cottager safeguards. He does not successfully appeal to the emotions of Agatha and Felix, the young cottagers, and Safie, Felix’s beloved, in the same way as he does with De Lacey, Agatha and Felix’s father. The creation attempts to create something of his own by constructing family ties; he attaches himself to a family that is not his and fails miserably to reach his goal to have a family: “Who can describe their horror and consternation on beholding me? Agatha fainted, and Safie, unable to attend to her friend, rushed out of the cottage. Felix darted forward, and with supernatural force tore me from his father, to whose knees I clung; in a transport of fury, he dashed me to the ground and struck me violently with a stick” (115). The creation immediately leaves the scene and runs back to his hovel; he allows himself to be attacked and defeated by someone who is obviously smaller and weaker than he. In other words, the creation is beaten by someone who is much more human than him, although he could have and should have, in all probability, trounced Felix. Such an easy win for Felix and a humiliating loss for the creation illustrate the effects of the dejection he now feels. The fight is not his only loss; he loses everything that is dear to him in an instant. He loses the possibility of acceptance and instead suffers the sting of utter rejection. After he flees, the creation comes to realize from his other wanderings that his family of cottagers is not his family at all, but are models for the rest of humankind. Individuals such as the cottagers are caring, gentle, and sensitive, of a more refined quality than most, and they are terrified of him, so it is highly likely that others of a rougher nature will react the same way toward him, if not worse: “There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me…[F]rom that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and more than all, against him who had formed me and sent me forth to this insupportable misery” (116). No one is willing to look beyond his exterior and it is this unwillingness for others to positively acknowledge him that is the impetus for the creation’s hatred toward all. 

He does not seek revenge against humanity, however, as quickly as he says he will. He is delayed by doing another good deed. He saves a girl from drowning in a river (120). The creation performs the worthiest act of selflessness by saving a life. Contrary to expectation, he saves a human life, reneging on his vow to war against and harm all of humanity. Inherently, the creation displays behavior that is socially acceptable to the humans who shun him. He does not project his pain onto her by making her suffer also; he forgets it temporarily so he can help her. Unfortunately, his concern for her safety is not appreciated by the man who witnesses the accident: 

On seeing me, he darted towards me, and tearing the girl from my arms, hastened towards the deeper parts of the wood. I followed speedily…[H]e aimed a gun, which he carried, at my body and fired…This was then the reward of my benevolence! I had saved a human being from destruction…Inflamed by pain, I vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind. (121)

The man is ungrateful for the creation’s rescue of the girl; this ingratitude seems contrary to human nature, but is grounded in the fact that the people, with whom the creation interacts, assign more value to his bodily features than to his undertakings. Sadly, his good deeds go unnoticed. It is this complete disregard on the part of the man concerning the creation’s role in saving the girl, even though the man is benefiting from his exertions, that causes the creation to again reconsider and finally, to give into his desire of wreaking havoc on humankind.

One observes that time after time the creation does what is civil and proper in society, but it is he who is disappointed by societal expectations because the people do not treat him as he would like to be treated or, simply, as they would treat others. He is an other unlike themselves, so they treat him differently; society is prejudiced toward him. Such bias is reinforced when the creation says to Frankenstein, “Believe me, Frankenstein, I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity, but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow creatures, who owe me nothing? They spurn and hate me” (82). Frankenstein’s behavior is far from exemplary toward the creation and he is his creator, who is presumably also representative of humanity, like the cottagers, and he treats him with such scorn and antipathy, like everyone else the creation meets. Frankenstein is the initial source of the creation’s maltreatment. Thus, due to Frankenstein’s behavior toward him, the creation is conditioned to not expect decency and gentility. The statement, then, by the creation is based in experiential knowledge, which will eventually become his fate. 

While Frankenstein’s treatment of the creation is horrendous, it could be contended that the behavior of his younger brother, William, is worse. William is the second child the creation encounters, other than the girl whom he saves from drowning. William, however, differs from the girl because he and the creation have an exchange, whereas the girl is unconscious when the creation meets her. The creation makes his intentions clear that he will not hurt him, and yet William is incredibly cruel and offensive in his conversation with the creation: “[M]onster! Ugly wretch!” (122). When William tells the creation that his father is M. Frankenstein, the creation assumes him to be Victor Frankenstein, and so by murdering William, he is punishing Victor. The creation initially engages with the child based on the premise that he is just that, a child, who is pure of heart and has not yet learned of hate or fear and as such, will be a friend and ally to him. The barrage of insults that William flings at him, causes the creation to realize that he is unfamiliar with the nature of children and that they are capable of cruelty. During the tirade, William reveals that he is related to Victor from his surname of Frankenstein. Subsequently, the creation murders William as a result of this relationship, knowing he will harm Victor. The murder also ceases William’s tirade. The greatest motivation, though, for the murder is that the creation is once again disappointed by humanity. In this instance, however, he is disappointed by a sect of humanity that he thought was unable to disappoint: the youth of humanity. 

Consequently, the creation learns from William  that he cannot forge a bond with the most innocent of society, which would make living among the rest of the human race, who are harsher in nature, impossible; hence, disappointment by William, who embodies the traits of the collective youth of humankind cripples the creation, pushing him to the brink of isolation, leading him to his last resort of requesting Frankenstein create a mate for him: “If any being felt emotions of benevolence toward me, I should return them a hundred and a hundredfold, for that one creature’s sake I would make peace with the whole kind!” (125). The creation will forgive humankind if he has a mate because she will fulfill the role that no one else has been able to as his companion. Simply, he will gain the ultimate connection of a permanent presence that will be made even stronger because she will be unlike anyone else, but like her counterpart. Together, they will be better able to cope with the fact that they are considered grotesque by those around them, since between each other, their appearance will be normalized: “[M]an will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species and have the same defects” (123). In order for equality to be present in a circumstance, there must be a standard of comparison. The mate will provide this for the creation; they will be equal. 

Furthermore, the mate will be an evolved representation of the creation. She will be like him enough that they will consider each other the same. Her mere existence will illustrate evolution at work because she will be a separate being from the original creation. Following biological practices, it is she, as the creation’s mate, who will carry and bear children; the creation’s mate will have the greater responsibility of propagating their species. With a mate, the creation will have a significant niche and role in the hierarchical structure to which all organisms belong and, by extension, in the human race. His human essence will be authenticated, although his humanness arises differently from the rest because he is created from dead humans. One would suspect then that eventually the creation and his kind would be visible to the rest of humankind, because there will be more of the creation’s progeny present. A greater visibility due to strength in numbers will eventually lead to their acceptance by the rest of humanity. The mate allows the possibility for him to escape his marginalized position. He and his mate will now be normalized, not only between themselves, but among humanity. Neither he nor his kind will be a source of alarm to those around them. Finally, having a mate allows the creation the likelihood of literally and figuratively casting aside his deformity; a mate will provide him with ability.  

The refusal by Frankenstein to create a mate for him is the last straw for the creation. After this, he is no longer able to cope with the maltreatment he receives by others in a nonviolent or at least passive manner and this causes his mental stability to unravel so that he becomes a vengeful and painfully lonely being. Simply, Frankenstein’s rejection of the creation’s request decides the fate of the creation because by this time, he has exhausted all of his other options in regard to finding a companion: “Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding. I was nourished with high thoughts of honour and devotion…[but] (insertion mine) I am alone” (196). Inevitably, the creation’s outward appearance completely debilitates him; it is the medium by which others control him and worse, he allows himself to be controlled by his form, which entirely consumes his thoughts, and therefore, his being. By the conclusion of the novel, he becomes the monster that humankind initially thought him to be. In essence, he is caught in a web composed of the predetermined notions of beauty that he is unable to attain, thereby making an escape from the web impossible. In conclusion, the creation is wholly incapacitated and handicapped by the unrelenting and persistent loneliness which has and will continue to plague his existence.                          

Works Cited

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. 1st ed. New York: Signet Classics, 2000. 

~*~

Biography: Kelley A Pasmanick is a thirty-five-year-old woman from Atlanta, Georgia. Pasmanick’s work has appeared in Wordgathering, Squawk Back, Praxis Magazine, The Mighty, Loud Zoo, The Jewish Literary Journal, Umbrella Factory Magazine, Breath & Shadow, KaleidoscopeTiny Tim Literary Review, and The Handy, Uncapped Pen. Her work has also been reprinted in Queen Mob’s Teahouse.

If you would like to contact Kelley about this essay or other works, please email me at handyuncappedpen[at]gmail.com and I will pass the message to her.

Read Kelley A Pasmanick's other literary analysis on the blog by clicking here.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Of The Disabled Equestrian: The Carriage Driver by Su Zi

Image: Bob Giles in his riding gear sitting on a black carriage. A white and brown horse is pulling him. The grass beneath is lush and the sky is a pure blue with trees lining the background. In front, on the bottom of the picture is a white fence with the letter "C" on it.

Horses are beautiful beings who have had their existence cast with us humans, and our civilization has been built because of their kindness in lending us their bodies, and their lives. For those of us whose bodies are atypical, it might seem to be an impossibility to meld our lives with that of a horse, but the growing programs for therapeutic equestrianism tell us, yes, it’s possible: there’s even a World Championship for Para Equestrians, with teams from many countries. Equestrianism in itself is a faceted art form, with practitioners in disciplines as varied as leaping fences and dancing in an arena, cross-country eventing to dressage to reining to carriage driving. The partnership with horses is as varied as the cultures of our Earth, because horses have been involved in human lives globally for long in our history.

Art is more than a painting in a museum. The Arts have a history and it involves real world craftsmanship, it involves all the methods of perception we have counted. The Arts also involve collaboration—Alexander Calder did not personally weld his monumental sculptures—and that craftsmanship too has a history. So it is with the horse: centuries of communication between them and us, and some of it about them to ourselves. As our culture may know ballet as art, or music as art, so too is our dance with horses an art. It’s also a physical art, because equestrianism is dancing and doing so with a partner who does not speak as we speak to each other. For those of us who speak differently, or move differently, whose strength is less than other humans, the interaction with horses opens a new view— their language, their physical beingness in our shared world.

Among equestrianism’s more exotic pursuits is the elevation of carriage driving—upon which our civilization was built—to a collaborative ballet between horse and human via the vehicle; a sight which is occasional in our culture, still with us thanks to Her and His Highnesses of England, and to the Hollywood western or occasional gladiator morality play. And thanks due to the interest of a then-young His Royal Highness, carriage driving has become an evolving sport. As para equestrianism in the saddle has evolved to include both world competitors and aide for veterans and autistic children, it behooves consideration of the art of carriage driving as well: there are those who have carriages that accept wheelchairs and who climb the logistical mountain of traveling with personal mobility aids and prosthetics, the horse and their food, equipment and special vehicles to a gathering of equestrians —the horse show.

Image: A red golf cart with a disability placard sits on the grass at sunset. 

Carriage Driving Horse Shows are specialized events, because some of the competitional elements require land— and land is ever the subject of contention among humans. It’s not as often that one sees a horse-drawn vehicle, and it’s to our loss and sometimes shame as a species. As humans consider their varying forms of existence, and as certain cultures of the globe consider social issues, and as we encounter these social issues under the mortal threat of Covid, our conversation must include disability. Carriage Driving does include disability, and even the Facebook group has over a thousand followers. There are Driving for the Disabled facilities established and more needed. “Horses are healing on so many different levels” says Boots Wright, a carriage driver of 35 years, who was “flung out of a carriage in 2008” and has had “several head injuries”. It is her red golf cart with the disability tag, and it is her international standing as an esteemed carriage driving equestrian that earned Wright the Chef D’Equip position at the 2012 World Equestrian event in Brade, Holland—and where USA ParaDriver Diane Kastema took home the gold for us.

There are associations for world equestrianism, the Federale Equestrian International, which is the governing body for that level of equestrian sport. In the United States, the American Driving Association both governs competition and seeks to include all carriage drivers of every level. To this end, Wright was involved when the ADS “events community was tasked with the creation of a program in 2017” that included Disability Dispensations, so that disabled equestrians could participate in their beloved pursuit.  

Wright fully acknowledges the art in carriage driving, and said in an in-person interview, that carriage driving is art, “because you’re not sitting on the horse, you are sitting behind it. You have two hands and only have hands, eyes, and voice [with which] to see and appreciate the horse’s body language. It can’t be taught by rote; the techniques can be taught, but the way you perceive things is in your own head.” As the artist brings the dream to the physical world, this is a physical display, a ballet, a performance of, as Wright says, “heightened senses”. Anyone who has experienced art can testify to the exhilaration of being engaged in the shared vision between artist and recipient. So too it is to see a horse swirling their beautiful bodies in concert with the hands that wisely guide. An interesting aspect to equestrianism is that the human in partnership with the horse, melds to the watching eye, becomes a centaur, a mythic being. Disabled drivers on the box can become elegance incarnate.

While indubitably every disabled person ought to have the choice of equine assisted therapy, not everyone wants to be an athlete; and while there is a para-equestrian riding team of serious athletes which has serious support, this is not as true among Disabled Competitive Carriage Drivers. Competitive Carriage Driving is itself a sport of mere thousands, with severe curtaining of travel and gathering, that events are happening at all with safety protocols is a testament of love.  The competitors are an open mix of professional equestrians and devoted amateurs, of backyard horse owners and of ones of deeper resources, and there is no distinction once the horse enters the arena at A. Although there are a few, specialized patterns for Disabled Drivers, Wright—who is a long-certified judge—says “I judge the horse not the driver [and that she doesn’t] classify or qualify a person’s disabilities”. It is the horse dancing with the human, abled or disabled, it is their performance together which is on stage.

Because of Covid’s many delays, the World Para Driving event has been rescheduled to this summer of 2021 in Shildau, Germany. Wright will be among the judges there. In the USA, there are fully capable disabled carriage drivers who are skilled enough, talented enough, dedicated enough to go as the team for America.  In the past, disabled veteran Bob Giles brought us home the silver medal, and the American team of disabled drivers have brought home bronze and gold too. Yet, this team is ever struggling for support that matches their own serious endeavor. Whilst the dark view of disability might view this as a social status quo, Covid is changing our culture and new conversations surround diversity. There are strenuous efforts to include disability in all diversity discussions, and this ought to be true for disabled athletes. As the horse equalizes us all as human, so too the horse does in carriage driving to those on the box. It’s just past time to give our support to the disabled, to disabled athletes, to disabled equestrian athletes and to both carriage driving, disabled carriage drivers and the extraordinary endeavor these athletes have made to perform as our team on the world stage.

Notes: 

Photographs taken at Grand Oaks CDE in January 2021. They are taken from a judge's viewpoint. 

The 2021 FEI World Championships for Singles Para Driving will take place Thursday, the 5th of August through Sunday, the 8th in Germany.
~*~
Su Zi is a poet/writer and artist/printmaker and edits, designs and constructs the eco-feminist poetry chapbook series Red Mare
Publications include poetry, essays, stories and reviews that date back to pre-cyber publishing, including when Exquisite Corpse was a vertical print publication, and a few editions of New American Writing. More recent publications include Red FezAlien Buddha and Thrice. A resident of the Ocala National Forest, with a dedicated commitment to providing a safe feeding respite for wild birds, and for a haphazard gardening practice that serves as a life model for all aspects of her work.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Mentors from April 1st to June 21st

Ann McBee - Writing query letters, novel & story development, submitting to literary magazines, putting a poetry or fiction chapbook together

Note:  Her primary genres are flash fiction and hybrid works.


Ann Stewart McBee was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She obtained her PhD in creative writing at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She has published fiction and poetry in Ellipsis, Parhelion Literary Review, The Pinch, Citron Review, and Cherry Tree among others. Her short story collection titled How Rabbit Went Down and Other Mishaps is available from Hoot-n-Waddle Press. She now teaches English at Des Moines Area Community College, and lives outside Des Moines, Iowa. The limited use of her hands due to Rheumatoid Arthritis does not prevent her from writing in the same way that living in heavy air pollution does not prevent one from breathing.

Jennifer adds: Ann has edited for literary journals and presses in the past.

Method of correspondence:  Email

~*~

Carey Link - Poetry (editing, submitting, offering feedback, query letters)



Poet, Carey Link is from Huntsville, Alabama. She retired after sixteen years as a civil servant at Redstone Arsenal. She is currently working toward a graduate degree in counseling. Carey's poetry has been included in Hospital Drive, the WLRH Sundial Writers Corner, Birmingham Poetry Review, Months to Years Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. Carey has had four chapbooks selected for publication: Through the Kaleidoscope (Blue Light Press, 2020), Awakening to Holes in the Arc of Sun (Mule on a Ferris Wheel, 2016), What it Means to Climb a Tree (Finishing Line Press, 2011), and I Walk a Frayed Tightrope Without a Safety Net (Forthcoming from Finishing Line Press). Carey is honored that her original quote, "I am not defined by an inanimate object. Look at me, not my wheelchair" will be displayed at the 2021 Embracing Our Differences Exhibit in Sarasota, Florida.    

Method of correspondence: Email

Thursday, March 18, 2021

We Begin Again (Announcements)

 Starting today, this blog is back in action! In the coming months, we have an essay by Su Zi, poetry by Robert Allen, a literary analysis of "Frankenstein" by Kelley Pasmanick, the return of Spazzy Crafter's column, and more goodies lined up.

Just a few things:

1. The Cripendy Contest has a new deadline of April 30th. Please send us your entries! Before we went on hiatus, we had zero submissions for it. Read the guidelines here.

2. Our mentor program will officially open on April 1st. Before that time, the information for the mentors on deck will be posted. If you're interested in becoming a mentor or mentee, click here to learn more. We hope the year-round program benefits more of our community.

3. As always, we are open to submissions for the blog! Any written work considered must relate to creativity and disability/neurodivergence in some way... however tenuous the connection. Visual and performance art submissions don't have to be about disability or neurodivergence.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Life Studies by SuZi (Visual Art)

Artist's statement about the work:  The drawings are life studies, in that they are drawn from living beings—it’s a bit tricky, as drawing requires staring and staring. The media used was marker on random paper—cardboard, inserts from clothing, etcetera. Some of the drawings ended up as mail art—sent directly through the mail. I have no idea where the originals of any of these drawings happen to be now; all I have of them are these images.

                                                         


Images one and two: Two gray and white cranes are featured. The first drawing has two spots of green foliage in the (mostly white) background with the crane on the left having its head down to check the ground made of loose, dark green strokes. In the second image, the foliage is bluish green with brown accents with the foreground and background having much more color. The second drawing also has the bird on the right checking the ground with the other in mid-step instead of standing still and upright.

                               


Image three:  
A closeup of legs in a sitting position as though the artist were looking down at her feet from an angle with the left leg partially obscuring the right foot. The legs are highly shaded with white, yellow, brown, and black. On the feet, the subject wears sneakers that are a blend of purple and yellow with a smidgen of teal. The laces are aqua with the heels and toes being predominantly white except for a purple star on the heel and slight yellow shading on the toes. The top left of the painting says "mocasins" in pink capital letters.




Image four:  A fluffy cat profile drawn in gray outline with a body of white, yellow, orange, and red takes up most of the image. Its tail curls up. Its face looks content. It looks like it might be lying down. There is light coming from the cat's head. The background looks to be a green and blue path which curves around to the back of the cat. Beyond, there is an orange circle off the pathway. In front of the cat are the words "sacred heart" in orange capital letters. Across the top of the piece it says, "Angel cat, angel kitty, angel kat, angel gato" in all caps in yellow, purple, and orange.



Image five:  On a white background is a large turtle in black outline with yellow, red, and teal shading on its white body. The turtle is drawn in profile with her head on the left and neck extended upward. She appears to be walking as her back right foot is raised. The spots of ground beneath her feet has hints of blue. In the bottom left corner of the drawing, "Bella" is written in yellow and underlined in blue.
~*~
Su Zi is a poet/writer and artist/printmaker and edits, designs and constructs the eco-feminist poetry chapbook series Red Mare
Publications include poetry, essays, stories and reviews that date back to pre-cyber publishing, including when Exquisite Corpse was a vertical print publication, and a few editions of New American Writing. More recent publications include Red FezAlien Buddha and Thrice. A resident of the Ocala National Forest, with a dedicated commitment to providing a safe feeding respite for wild birds, and for a haphazard gardening practice that serves as a life model for all aspects of her work.