Does Anyone Join Medium To Write Poetry?
I’ve mentioned it before, but I joined Medium (after asking my Romanian tech-geek friend what a good blog site would be) intending to flood the internet with essays on disability. I had just graduated from my Master’s program, heady with my newfound knowledge of justice for the disabled. I believe, then as now, that society needs to think differently about their disabled populace. We aren’t children. We have the same hopes for life as the rest of society.
And, yet, the framework of our perceptions of the world are scary different.
I am truly amazed by the wealth of solid poets who write on this site. I recall, early on when I joined, reading something by the brilliant Rebeca Ansar, or the magnificent Guérin Asante, when I realized that fabulous poetry was being put up here. Not that that meant that the disability stuff could no longer be part of my repertoire here, but suddenly I seemed to remember (as if I’d forgotten) that I used to write poetry. And I loved it.
Not that I ever stopped reading poetry, but for a while I had imagined that I suffered from Coleridge’s condition and the poet in me decided to die in my 20’s. Fucking love Coleridge, too. Long-time lover of Leonard Cohen and Ondaatje, too, but I had given up reading poetry written by my peers and stuck to reading the fantasy and philosophy that I love as well.
I’m not sure what happened, really. I remember getting frustrated with the pitifully small amount of exposure, reading or engagement that came out of my attempt to be a disability advocate, wondering if those were clothes I could wear or not. I haven’t always been a stickler for the “right” choices/actions/morality. I often make reference to Dionysus because, 9 times out of 10, I make my choices based on how I feel. I think I’ve been a bully (intellectually, though it usually happened when drinking), which made it a little tougher to see myself as relentlessly championing the underdog.
But, poetry, beginning with the subjective, continuing the Cartesian phenomena, processing the world through the image created by the words…that seemed to resonate with the challenges that I saw erupting all around me. One thing I noticed during the course of my research, and there’s a good reason for it, but many disabled people turn to writing. After all, it’s a highly accessible medium. One doesn’t need much other than the will and the capacity for language to begin.
And it’s such an important site (writing) for processing the world. Writing helps me make sense of so much, even in the apparent disconnectedness of the images, of the ruptures caused by metaphor as I search for ways to articulate experience. I believe, in some ways, contrary to perhaps the status quo, but poetry is an ideal site for making sense of the jarring experiences the disabled must go through.
In her absolutely wonderful work, Writing Down The Bones, one that I’ve returned to again and again, Goldberg shares some writing done by women in a group home for people with disabilities, and the poems, irrational, following a syntax that doesn’t exist in the real world, these women crafted astonishing raw and evocative pieces.
So I reached for madness.
Perhaps that’s not the ideal way to put it, but the jarring, the disruptive, raw, emotional…that’s what I wanted to take part in, to be totally caught up. That may explain, partially, why I failed to address myself to poetry for so long. While working on my MA, everything was taken into an incredibly cerebral space, I was working purely with intellect, and I relied on intuition for the poetry. I wanted it to erupt from my gut and heart.
I didn’t expect to find such a welcome space for that activity here. I don’t know why, but I just didn’t imagine so many of us were reaching for the stellar communication of experience by way of poetry.
But, damn, I’m so glad we do!
J.D. Harms 2021