Recent Media Attention

File this under I-can’t-win-for-losing or something like that:

Recently The Ann Arbor News, in an announcement of a book reading I did at the Common Language Bookstore, described me as follows: “Self-identified as a gay, transsexual man with cerebral palsy, Clare has long been a poet and activist both under that name as well as his birth name of Elizabeth Clare. His 1999 book Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation has been heralded as a landmark text in queer/disability studies.” None of these supposed self-identifiers (they never asked me) are quite accurate–not gay nor transsexual nor man. Rather if the blurb had been interested in self-identity, particularly as it plays out in the book, rather than sensationalism, it would have used the words queer, transgender, and genderqueer. And yes, I have cerebral palsy–that’s no secret in my work–but I never lead who I am with a medical diagnosis. And then to use my given name–again no secret, it’s on the back cover of Exile and Pride and easily found on the Web–is to establish so clearly which kind of freak I am.

Of course you could reasonably ask why I am spreading this mainstream media drivel by quoting it in my blog. And the answer is because this drivel has followed me and my work around in one way or another for a long time, and the way for me to deal isn’t to try to hide it away. And it’s not only mainstream media.

Burlington’s alternative weekly Seven Days recently wrote, “…the book [The Marrow’s Telling] tells a harrowing life story, taking the poet in stutter-steps from childhood abuse to adult activism. Clare’s language grounds itself in vibrant evocations of the natural landscape. In a prose piece called ‘Gaping, Gawking, Staring,’ he demonstrates what he’s learned about people’s reactions to ‘difference’ and disability from a lifetime with cerebral palsy. But he offers advice to those who’ve suffered for such differences: ‘Resist the urge to ignore your body.'” I know this blurb is overall complimentary, but let me point out the spelling out of cerebral palsy and the predictable use of the words suffering and harrowing.

I don’t object to being a queer poet, trans poet, disabled poet. That is, after all, who I am. I just hate the sensationalizing. It makes me appreciate even more the folks who read and respond to my poems as poems.

Dylan Keller-Adelman said,

December 23, 2016 @ 1:52 pm

This was very informal. It helped me understand how media portrays different people with language and culture and race.

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