The inspiration for this sonnet webtext arose from Melanie Yergeau's Digital Disability course at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I recast ideas and language from the readings discussed in the class into poetic form and convey the insights I have gained from the course. Each sonnet is followed by the same sonnet fragmented, the breakage of form mirroring/echoing the disruption of disabled experience by the built physical or digital environment. As disabled experience transcends constraining environments, the line breaks, akin to curb cuts, illustrate the tensions, frictions, and fissures of design. I conceptualize fragmentation as productive, critical, and disharmonious in its intentions and instantiations.
I have chosen to write sonnets in particular as the form invites creative possibilities within formal constraints, inspiring liberation within the limitations of lines. As spaces can constrain accessible design, lines can constrain words and phrases. In playing with form, I seek to transform, resist, or transcend limitations to imagine new ways of being and knowing for dis/abled bodyminds. I conceptualize the sonnets as movements in a musical composition or as variations on a theme, as the authors’ symphonic voices and my own, in their emergence and dissipation, coalesce into thematic coherence. As language intersects with poetic voice, audio recordings of the poems offer listeners additional access to the fragments and pauses.
The transfiguration of prose into poetry distills the original substance into a new sense: even as I seek to channel the authors’ essences and evocations, the reader can experience the ideas anew through an altered lens. In the inextricable interplay of politics and aesthetics, I exhume the less-explored aesthetics of disability, an intention, which, even so, expresses the politics that underlies thought and language. I aim to address readers, poets, scholars, and activists, especially those who are interested in the intersections of disabled experience and poetic expression.
By clicking on links to multimedia in blue and underline, readers can take themselves ‘outside’ of the experience (and the bounds of poetic temporality). This multimodal experience accentuates the intertextuality of writing - all words echo what has come before and hint at what is to come. To trace a thread of interest, readers can hover over individual words in the poems that link to other poems where the word appears. A list of the words and the poems in which they appear can be found in the index. The impulse inspiring the reading and writing is one of seeking, echoing, transcending, transforming…