A combination of new and returning participants, 35 total, joined us today, representing local (including IN, PA, NJ, NY, and OH) and international (including India, Canada, the UK, and Switzerland) perspectives.
Our text was Poem With Disabilities by Jim Ferris, posted below. Two readers read it aloud twice. One participant acknowledged that the poem made her feel vulnerable, especially in the time of the pandemic. Others echoed this sentiment, recognizing that the poem points to the fact that we are all dis/abled in some way, either because of immigration, lack of access, inability to speak other languages, etc. Participants also pointed to the accessibility of the language in the poem, making it easier for readers to enter the poem. Several participants found the first half of the poem light, even humorous, but then noted the way the poem “pivots” in the middle: with the line “you’re reading along and suddenly everything changes,” the poem itself changes, becoming “darker” and implicating the reader in a more profound, challenging way. One participant pointed to a parallel between people and poems–they don’t always behave how we want them to and they can be difficult to access, but they’re worth the trouble of trying.
Our prompt was “Write about a time when your angle of vision jumped.” Four participants shared their writing, inspiring a rich array of responses from the listeners. One sharer reminded us that we can just show up and be ourselves, even if we originally had feelings of insecurity; this reader likened the Zoom gallery view to ducks in a row, forever changing how we see ourselves in a Zoom meeting. Another reader wrote how “someone switched the lenses in my eyeglasses without giving me an eye exam,” when sharing her writing about her grandfather’s sudden terminal diagnosis. Another sharer constructed a poem that included three heaps, three onlookers, and three perspectives; it was full of struggle, victory, and failure. The final reader wrote about how unprepared she really was when she recently started working as a substitute teacher, likening the concept of adolescence to the theme of the poem. As we were saying our goodbyes, one participant wrote in the chat box that today’s session was a “Happy meal for thought.” A good note to end on a rainy Saturday.
Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.
Please join us for our next session Wednesday, May 27th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.
We look forward to seeing you again soon!
Poems with Disabilities By Jim Ferris I'm sorry—this space is reserved for poems with disabilities. I know it's one of the best spaces in the book, but the Poems with Disabilities Act requires us to make all reasonable accommodations for poems that aren't normal. There is a nice space just a few pages over—in fact (don't tell anyone) I think it's better than this one, I myself prefer it. Actually I don't see any of those poems right now myself, but you never know when one might show up, so we have to keep this space open. You can't always tell just from looking at them either. Sometimes they'll look just like a regular poem when they roll in . . . you're reading along and suddenly everything changes, the world tilts a little, angle of vision jumps, your entrails aren’t where you left them. You remember your aunt died of cancer at just your age and maybe yesterday's twinge means something after all. Your sloppy, fragile heart beats a little faster and then you know. You just know: the poem is right where it belongs.