Monday, December 30, 2013

Guest Post-ish: Helplessness by Tasha Raella Chemel

Over the weekend, I was introduced to a longish poem/spoken word piece by a writer who is new to me. Well, that's not entirely accurate. It's more accurate to say that this writer found Shaping Clay, devoured Defiant and Nothing is Right, and then sent me her work because she found so many parallel themes between her poetry and my fiction. I agreed, and I really enjoyed the performance she shared with me, so I wanted to pass it along to you. Below, you will find her short introduction and a link to the Soundcloud file for your listening pleasure.

I'm excited by Tasha's work because it is the first time I have seen someone else whose writing is, to be frank, exactly what I would want to publish if I was publishing works by other writers. So I'm going to do that. I've invited Tasha to send me more of her work if she wants to, and I'm asking you to make her want that. If you enjoy her work as much as I did, please sound off in the comments so that she knows. - MSMjr

I have recently read both Nothing is Right and Defiant, and though I am totally blind, and not autistic, I resonated with many of the themes in Michael's work: invisibility, stories of abuse and their invalidation by adults, disability policing, shaming, a total disregard for the thoughts/feelings/dignity of children, and unacknowledged power imbalances between people with and without disabilities. I was very much reminded of my own experiences attending a mainstream school: the way my parents and I eventually learned to accept the abuse as part of my day-to-day life, and the way I began to constantly question why I insisted on being a bad blind person. Michael has generously agreed to post a link to a monologue  I wrote on these subjects. Please feel free to share it as widely as you can. Stories like Michael's and my own have a tendency to be ignored, dismissed, or minimized, I think, in part, because people just don't want to conceive of the fact that these things can and do happen in the public schools, even the best ones. Through my teaching and my poetry, I hope to change that, and to encourage professionals to reflect deeply on their power and responsibility, and the both the damage and the good that they can cause. - Tasha Raella Chemel