Sunday, September 03, 2006

On the Outskirts

On the Outskirts, is this year’s offering of disability poetry from the Inglis House Poetry Workshop. While it continues to serve up outstanding poetry from writers like Sheila Black, Ellen LaFleche, Paul Kahn, Christine Stark and Kobus Moolman, this chapbook has added something new – essays about disability poetry. Some of these essays focus on the writing itself. Dan Simpson’s essay, “Line Breaks the Way I See Them” considers the impact of the lack of sight on poetic form. Liesl Jobson looks back through her poem “Listening to Voices” to consider the effect of mental illness on writing. Barbara Crooker discusses the influence of raising a son with autism on her poetry. In addition two these are two essayist who take a broader look at disability poetry. Jim Ferris’ essay, “Crip Poetry” tries to discern the characteristics of disability poetry and to tie it in to the tradition of body-centered poetry. Paul Kahn questions whether there is in fact such a thing as a disability sensitivity. Taken together, these give the reader a great deal to chew on, and if On the Outskirts is a bit overstuffed for a saddle-stapled chapbook, the visually enticing cover by Elijah Northen is more than enough to invite the reader in.