Tag Archives: poetry

Poetry! Joshua Bennett Performing ‘Tamara’s Opus’

From the White House Poetry Jam! Transcription and description by Anna.

Joshua Bennett is a young Black man. While is poem his entirely in spoken English, he Signs some of the lines, and I have highlighted those lines with asterisks on either side.

Tamara has never listened to hip hop.
Never danced to the rhythm of raindrops or fallen asleep to a chorus of chirping crickets. She has been Deaf
for as long as I’ve been alive.
And ever since the day I first turned five my father has said:
Nothing is wrong with Tamara.
**God just makes
some people

And at that moment
those nine letters felt like hammers
swung gracefully by unholy hands to shatter my stained glass innocence
into shards that can never be pieced back together
or do anything more than sever the ties between my sister and I. I waited,
was patient numberless years anticipating the second her ears would open like lotuses and allow my sunlight senses to seep into her insides
make her remember
all of those conversations we must have had in heaven back when God handpicked us to be sibling souls centuries ago.
I still remember
her 20th birthday.
Readily recall my awe-struck 11 year old eyes as I watched Deaf men and women of all ages dance in unison to the vibration of speakers booming so loud
that I imagined angels chastising us for disturbing their worship with such beautiful blasphemy.
Until you have seen **a Deaf girl dance, you know
of passion.**
There was a barricade between us that I never took the time to destroy never even for a moment thought to look up the sign for **sister**, for **family**, for **goodbye. I will see you again someday.**
remember the face
of your little brother.

It is only now I see
that I was never willing to put in the extra effort to love her properly.
So as the only person in my family who is not fluent in sign language
I’ve decided to take this time to apologize.

**I am sorry
for my silence.**

For true love knows no frequency, and so
I will use these hands to speak volumes that can never be contained within the boundaries of sound waves
I will shout at the top of my fingertips until digits dance and relay these mental messages directly to your soul.

I know
that there is no poem
that can make up for all the time we have lost so
if you can,
**just listen.**

Quoted: Karl Michalak, “Face Value” (excerpt)

Everything healed up
but in a very strange way
Years later
when it was very obvious
that something was very wrong with my face
said one or more of the following:

It’s the Lord’s will.
Just learn to live with it.
It’s all in your imagination.
Don’t be so self-centered.
Shut up and do your homework.
Other people are worse off than you.

[Full text available in the 2004 anthology Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and Their Stories, edited by Bob Guter and John R. Kilacky.]


I’ve been thinking a lot about disability and creativity. Harnessing our energies and letting them into the universe, finding ways to express our experiences. I wanted to share a few poems I’ve found by disabled women.

“Naked, at 45” by Tracy Koretsky

Like pampas grass, whose blush fades, whose reeds
desiccate and snap, or like the house left to weather,
sinking, soft edges fraying…there is no fresh metaphor
for my body, aging. An ordinary body.

(Read the rest of “Naked, at 45”)

“You Get Proud By Practicing” by Laura Hershey

If you are not proud
for who you are, for what you say, for how you look;
if every time you stop
to think of yourself, you do not see yourself glowing
with golden light; do not, therefore, give up on yourself.
You can
get proud.

(Read the rest of “You Get Proud By Practicing”)

“every morning at 9 am,” by cripchick

i wrap my hand around her
skinny denim thigh
preparing myself for what will
come next

(Read the rest of “every morning at 9 am,”)

Do you have a favourite disabled poet or poem about disability?