It took me some time to find the nip of my pen for the introduction. Often the world creates many dimensions for “disability” each to its intricacies. Disability can be a radical vulnerability. I don’t want to tract the term and not give a glimmer of hope. There is a narrative that all struggles can be overcome; in truth, in relation to disabled bodies, emotional severance, blackness, and other marginalized intersections.
The art pieces in this creative anthology interact with the immaterial and bodily impediments of disability. The theme arrived timely; the creative pieces, interviews mimic the musics of our bodies and experiences with mother nature. Conversations with Dr. Lisa Meeks breaks the silence of murky systems, materiality and limitations pasteurized in the plates of people with disability. Dike Chukwumerije and Dr. Amy Shimshon-Santo both plumbed the idea of culture, identity, language and performance poetry in a fine understanding. One would pause, and philosophize redemption, each time the sub-themes dialogue with social realities.
Terrific short stories by Charlotte Amelia Poe, Michelle Nnanyeluo, Cora Tate, Amy Cook, Irene Ayla George, and Brian Belefant are mashed well, carefully-chosen diction by each writer present the compact quotients of love, transient, memory, sadness, and vulnerability. Their pieces show us thus, people living with disabilities can have reasonable control over the vicissitudes of life. These writers have birthed beautiful characters and superfluous narratives coiled around the imagination of being terrified — suffering illnesses, overwhelming purpose, the shame of stigma, and curiosity. All sewn in a surgical stitch. I am humbled by the way they’ve emptied all burdens of people with disabilities into this pot of soup. At the nozzle, there’s sheer empathy and a dramatic sociological imagination.
The poetry collection is fluxing with metaphoric and axiomatic meanings as in Lisa Geiszler’s poems bearing the juxtapositions of pleasure and reconnection. Okon Esther’s poems are sung in very composed allurement. Her poems made us peer at the ‘other’ of ‘disability’ that is — the possibilities. Poet Okon in Flight of a Bubble Bee, the persona brimmed her words thus, “I’ll push to the very end, For deep down here. Right here in my heart.” Another incredible poet, James Gering follows with a poem that reminds us of the recent protests in Iran that watered the streets of the Islamic country. Gering opened Masih as a lady who unveiled her body and had her mother’s disapproval. Unlike in Tehran walking with her mother — both in veils, Masih would walk the streets of London without a veil and was happy. Further, poet Francis Muzofa’s The Limping Frog is poignant as it is radical. The poem set in the poet’s hometown, shows how he squeezed his way up to achieve his life goals, though the hiccups and ostracization from family.
Poet Nwosu Prayerlife tinges the last breath of my heart with his poem, Ophan’s Diary. The poet weaved his words as the Ganges purifies the soul in its dank waters. The persona asks many rhetorical questions while the audience remains broken, sapped out of any help for him. Nwosu asks “How does it feel to be loved?” He reminds me of the late Esther Annagu, my beloved mother whose unbridled love, and firewood nurtured me — yet the memories toss in an unending din.
Photography and art in this anthology represent a massive symphony for the disability theme. Fantasy Hearing Aid by Janis Butler Holm is a masterpiece — depicting a woman, adorned with beads, necklaces, and earrings. One understands the position the character embodies in a typical black community: strength, identity and decency. Rasheed Olayemi’s Tailoring, portrays a girl — sitting on a sewing machine; cupped her chin in her hand with her dog as she peers keenly. Rasheed’s coloured and monochrome images captured hapless beggars with alms containers; the second image zooms in on a homeless old man, napping in the street. Poignant images, conveyed with the tiniest, frenzied detail. Photographer Binod Dawadi’s images capture the fragility of life on the street. These images uncloth the materiality of gruesome penury, that which locks the immense potentials of humans. Rasheed and Binod’s pieces nudge my memory of Dele Farotimi’s take, “Politicians would never stop using poverty to weaponize us.”
poet, curator and journalist
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