This gathering of crip poems grew out of a flowering of poetry submissions in recent months to DSQ, a flowering that I hope represents the continuing blossoming of literary production that speaks of and to disability culture. These poems remind us why we need the crip arts movement. Disability issues are not marginal, even though disabled people have long been relegated to the margins. Instead, what oppression has taught us, has forced us to consider "disability" issues are central to what it means to be human. And we need the crip arts movement to plant that flag squarely in the center of human experience, and to do it in ways that shine not only for disability culture but for all, including those who do not yet know where their interests really lie.
What exactly is on this flag? That is up to the crip poets and other crip artists, to make flags and plant them, and then to make more. When the prodigious philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote and published Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics, he didn't say "If you please, sir" — he threw down a challenge, he said metaphysics comes through me, metaphysics has to deal with me — and soon enough, it did. We need to keep making and planting our flags, reading and challenging and supporting and noticing each other's work, and responding. One of the things it will be difficult for crip artists to do is counter the dual isolation — not only the isolation that is taught to disabled people, but also the isolation that is promoted to artists in their lonely garrets and studios. There is no question that artists need time and space to work. But we also need to be working in ferment, feeding off the energy that comes from bouncing things together, from knowing and responding to each other. We don't get there alone. Metaphysics comes through all of us.
This presentation of poems does not cover the waterfront of contemporary crip poetry, nor does it intend to — a poetry which can be contained in that way is nowhere near as vibrant as disability culture deserves. Instead, we offer a sampler, a taste of some of the rich and complex flavors of crip poetry. The rest is up to you.
April 30, 2008