Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability


Editor: Black, Sheila Bartlett, Jennifer Northen, Michael
Publication Date: 10/11/2011
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Binding: Paperback
Media: Book
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Chosen by the American Library Association as a 2012 Notable Book in Poetry.

Beauty is a Verb is a ground-breaking anthology of disability poetry, essays on disability, and writings on the poetics of both. Crip Poetry. Disability Poetry. Poems with Disabilities. This is where poetry and disability intersect, overlap, collide and make peace.

“[BEAUTY IS A VERB] is going to be one of the defining collections of the 21st century…the discourse between ability, identity & poetry will never be the same.” –Ron Silliman, author of In The American Tree

“This powerful anthology succeeds at intimately showing…disability through the lenses of poetry. What emerges from the book as a whole is a stunningly diverse array of conceptions of self and other.”–Publishers Weekly, starred review

From “Beauty and Variations” by Kenny Fries:

How else can I quench this thirst? My lips
travel down your spine, drink the smoothness

of your skin. I am searching for the core:
What is beautiful? Who decides? Can the laws

of nature be defied? Your body tells me: come
close. But beauty distances even as it draws

me near. What does my body want from yours?
My twisted legs around your neck. You bend

me back. Even though you can’t give the bones
at birth I wasn’t given, I let you deep inside.

You give me–what? Peeling back my skin, you
expose my missing bones. And my heart, long

before you came, just as broken. I don’t know who
to blame. So each night, naked on the bed, my body

doesn’t want repair, but longs for innocence. If
innocent, despite the flaws I wear, I am beautiful.

Sheila Black is a poet and children’s book writer. In 2012, Poet Laureate Philip Levine chose her as a recipient of the Witter Bynner Fellowship.

Disability activist Jennifer Bartlett is a poet and critic with roots in the Language school.

Michael Northen is a poet and the editor of Wordgathering: A Journal of Poetics and Disability.