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Disability Poems: Poetry Relating to Disabilities and Health Conditions

  • Revised/Updated : 2018-10-02
  • Synopsis : Disability poetry by poets with disabilities and non-disabled writers in the field of disability literature and poetry.

Main Document

The Disabled World Disability Poems section is an area where non-disabled writers as well as writers with disabilities can submit their poems for publishing and exchanges of ideas. Poems in this category focus on disability and health issues.

Poetry is defined as a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language - such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and meter - to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning. A poem is defined as a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities.

When dealing with a disability, you look for things to hold onto.

Sometimes words are all we have, and the words contained within poetry often help those with health issues and/or disabilities through hard times.

Disabled World seeks to help develop the field of disability literature by publishing and promoting poetry by poets with disabilities and poems that counteract stereotypes about disability.

In addition Disabled World invites work that discusses poetry from a disability perspective or further addresses themes related to disability and contributes to the development of the field of disability literature and poetry.

Jim Ferris - A Poet with Disability:

Jim Ferris is an award-winning poet and disability studies scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ferris is cited as saying that he was a "defective child" who found himself in a "system intent on 'fixing' him." This included surgery and rehabilitation meant to correct his disability. Ferris has written multiple books and essays, including "Hospital Poems" and "The Enjambed Body." Some of his writings have received awards, including fellowship awards from the Wisconsin Arts Board.

His book The Hospital Poems is about his boyhood experiences at a charity hospital for children with disabilities.

He has been a musician, performance artist, director, playwright, and actor, performing from the West Coast to the East, from Texas to Canada. Ferris, who has a congenital leg impairment, is past president of the Society for Disability Studies, the leading international scholarly organization in disability studies. At the University of Wisconsin, he supervises the instructional staff in speech composition. A winner of multiple teaching awards, Ferris teaches courses in communication arts and disability studies.

A short poem by Jimmy Burns

wounded and disabled
asleep in dusty anthology
slumber until awoken by

From a recent article on the Wordgathering website:

"Disability poetry can be recognized by several characteristics: a challenge to stereotypes and an insistence on self-definition; foregrounding of the perspective of people with disabilities; an emphasis on embodiment, especially atypical embodiment; and alternative techniques and poetics."

For the uninitiated or those who just want to try get a basic grasp of what disability poetry is and what it seeks to offer, the poems listed below are a good place to start. If you would like to have your poem(s) included in this category please contact us

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