A ground-breaking insight into the experience of disability, from a distinguished poet who has lived with Marfan Syndrome, including severe spinal curvature, and whose poems give voice to those who are often treated as ‘other’ or alien.
The poems are visceral and intimate, they comfort and discomfort at the same time – empathy for the other seems to falter, only to expand and deepen.
The poems in Human Looking speak with the voices of the disabled and the disfigured, in ways which are confronting, but also illuminating and tender. They speak of surgical interventions, and of the different kinds of disability which they seek to ‘correct’. They range widely, finding figures to identify with in mythology and history, art and photography, poetry and fiction. A number of poems deal with unsettling extremes of embodiment, and with violence against disabled people. Others emerge out of everyday life, and the effects of illness, pain and prejudice. The strength of the speaking voice is remarkable, as is its capacity for empathy and love. ‘I, this wonderful catastrophe’, the poet has Mary Shelley’s monstrous figure declare. The use of unusual and disjunctive – or ‘deformed’ – poetic forms, adds to the emotional impact of the poems.