Cripple Poetics: A Love Story
by Petra Kuppers & Neil Marcus
With Photos by Lisa Steichmann
New Review! Carrie Sandahl, in Disability Studies Quartlery
YPSILANTI, Michigan, May 21, 2008 - A love story for crip culture! By turns playful, unsettling, raw and moving, Cripple Poetics: A Love Story is an immersive and sensual correspondence that builds and heats by accretion—one keystroke at a time. Cripple Poetics is e-mails, IMs and letters between lovers; poetic rumination/invigoration; and disability arts manifesto. Reader Ann Fox (Davidson College) writes: "As lovers/poets/performance artists Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus court each other, they woo us as well. We are seduced by their great love of each other, crip culture, and a fierce, revolutionary dynamism that makes us want to whirl with them, through pleasure and pain, into the maelstrom of the possibilities for joy and expression the body—and this life—offer.”
The dance of courtship is reflected in language that alternately snakes and darts, declares and obfuscates, reminisces and forges—finding freedom within its limitations. "Cripple Poetics preserves and unfolds the artifacts of an original and timely love story that might otherwise have remained shrouded in a small, forgotten corner of cyberspace," says publisher Jay Sennett, of Homofactus Press.
"The dance and the eighth notes got loose: segued, went Rhumba, found
poetry and got dolled up with Neil Marcus and Petra Kuppers. A cripple poetics
is a perfect harmony with flesh and music and tongues."
Stephen Kuusisto, The University of Iowa
Petra Kuppers’ & Neil Marcus’ Cripple Poetics: A Love Story. Homofactus Press, 2008
ISBN 10: 09785973-3-8
ISBN 13: 978-0-9785973-3-7
You can buy it via the publisher website, at
Amazon link: http://tinyurl.com/57jwjx
Ypsilanti MI 48198
EXCERPTS (see also Wordgathering excerpt)
Petra and I are rolling round on the floor/
In front of a curtain. behind a
curtain. under a sheet of red silk/
how does our touch in this dance inform you?
what information is communicated in this way?
In a moment of hiding from the cameras spotlight, I stole a kiss under/ the covers.
i keep seeing lots of seeds from trees here..millions in the streets they look like miniature chinese dumpling wraps the size of the little fingernail.to me loneliness magnifies pain
sending a hug. neil
i enjoy being around people who are outed by society. i love their resistance
on my soft body
suspended in spring-fed water
iron brown below
small bird skeleton
on the beach, bleached
needles curve up
a crown of gentle thorns
on my white breast
fingernail traces an aureole
sun dogs dip down
old bones grow green
twigs and hollow tubes
whistle in the wind:
what do you remember
how do you fill all air?
how do we fly?
we move marked by our blood
we move open to the wind
we move in the bone
what sails our bodies make
The Metaphor of Wind in Cripple Poetics
How can I speak of cripple and not mention the wind.
How can I speak of crippled and not mention the heart.
Heart, wind, song, flower, space, time, love. To leave these absent is to leave cripple in stark terms.
As if we were made of medical parts and not flesh and bone.
There is always wind in my cripple
Off shore breezes.
Scented nightflowering vines.
Wild salsa dances that run past midnight
Cripple is not extraordinary or ordinary.
Cripple is a full plate
A blown about newspaper
An ox in a rice field, ploughing earth
Neil Marcus actor.poet.writer.butoh dancer. contact improvisational lover. Berkeley citizen who works with this key idea: disability is not a brave struggle or courage in the face of adversity, disability is an art.
Petra Kuppers community artist, disability culture activist, wheelchair dancer, Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Michigan.
"This collection of poetry is a moving, lyrical account of two disabled lovers finding each other and blossoming in their mutual presence. With humor, feeling, and sexy vibes, Petra and Neil open up their intimate life to readers, and the result is a postmodern, crip version of Robert and Elizabeth Browing, or Abelard and Heloise. Stringing together the fragments of their love life, including poems, emails, e-chats, and other bits of communication, Petra and Neil recreate for us the warm flow of feeling that eddies deeper and deeper into a love for our time. No doubt these new lovers' poetry will go down in disability history, joining the stories of famous lovers of the past like Romeo and Juliet, only this time the balcony has a ramp and the lovers meet by moonlight in power scooters.
Lennard Davis, University of Illinois at Chicago
"Oh, yum. Oh, yay. We are so fortunate that these two met and wrote about their love and lust and the life of their minds and bodies and all spaces around and in between. This is luscious stuff, so erotic that my reptilian brain throbs as I read it. A great love story, told in the most poetic way, with all of what it means to be human fully engaged. I can't wait for the movie."
David Roche, performance artist, author of The Church of 80% Sincerity
"This collaborative collection highlights the strengths of both poets, and invites readers into their intimate exchange of ideas and feelings. As these two mavens of disability culture discover each other, we discover the world as they see it, rich with tender eroticism, simple daily pleasures, painful struggles, jokes and dance. This volume combines Marcus' introspective, playful engagement with his body and environment, and Kuppers' passionate exploration of the sounds and shapes of words. The result is a pleasure to read."
Laura Hershey, disability culture writer and poet
Cripple Poetics is many things: e-mails, IMs and letters between lovers; poetic rumination/invigoration; and disability arts manifesto. As lovers/poets/performance artists Petra Kuppers and Neil Marcus court each other, they woo us as well. We are seduced by their great love of each other, crip culture, and a fierce, revolutionary dynamism that makes us want to whirl with them, through pleasure and pain, into the maelstrom of the possibilities for joy and expression the body--and this life--offer.
Ann Fox, Davidson College
Frequently Asked Questions about Cripple Poetics
Disabled Lilacs youtube video