AustLit logo


Issue Details: First known date: 2022... 2022 Caesura and the Deforming Poem : Rupture as a Space for the Other
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'How does poetry deal with disability? At the level of theme and voice, Australian poetry – including the theorising and criticism of it – has rarely given overt priority to disabled experience. This essay seeks to contribute to a correction of this neglect by adapting the philosophical approach of Emmanuel Levinas, who wrote of the phenomenological preeminence of the Other. It considers how disability – defined expansively as a bodily otherness which also implicates the self – might become apprehended not only within thematic content, but through the disruptions of poetic form.' (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Australian Literary Studies Special Issue : Writing Disability in Australia vol. 37 no. 1 May 2022 24546239 2022 periodical issue

    'Poet Andy Jackson begins his collection Human Looking with a poem titled ‘Opening.’ This signals not only the opening of his book but an ‘incision’ which begins ‘below the back of the neck / and ends just above the coccyx’ (3). Jackson, who has Marfan syndrome, is referring to one of numerous surgeries conducted on his body which leave ‘a thick scar – a blurred, insistent line. / As each layer of skin dies, it whispers to the next / the form and story of the wound. / This is how I continue, intact.’ The word ‘intact’ suggests that the wound’s ‘form and story’ are sealed. They are stitched up and closed over by medical professionals who deem disabled people broken and in need of fixing. As Jackson ‘strain[s] to lift this too-heavy object, / the long suture ruptures / in my head’ (3). The burdensome narrative of his condition – one which has been imposed upon him – has sprung apart. He then addresses the reader, ‘You might think this visceral confession / only an image of mine. But you are becoming / this unstitching, this sudden opening’ (3). The transition in Jackson’s address from first person to second person, and the shift from a noun (‘image’) to a verb (‘becoming’), directs the attention away from his appearance to the reader, who now has a role to play not in staring at Jackson’s image, but in participating in the construction of what his story can be. It is an invitation to be open to all that disability engenders: not stereotypical stories of deficit, but creativity, ingenuity and possibility.' (Amanda Tink, Jessica White : Introduction : Writing Disability in Australia : introduction)

Last amended 24 May 2022 11:42:41 Caesura and the Deforming Poem : Rupture as a Space for the Othersmall AustLit logo Australian Literary Studies
    Powered by Trove