Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Disabled Poets

Disabled Poets
            I attended the One Question: Film Screening at 7pm in the 4th Floor Program Room on October 5th, 2016 and it was not at all what I expected, mostly because it was more concerned with autism than any kind of film screening. I walked in and they handed my friend and I two slips, mine blue and hers green. The presentation started with the question “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?” My mind began to scramble with insecurities until the video began. It began with silly introduction videos of people with Autism. It portrayed people of all ages with similar disabilities of varying degrees. The interviewer posed the same question. “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?” The people in the videos were confused by the question. Some responded by saying that they wished they could do things by themselves or not be a bother to others. These responses were followed by copious numbers of them responding nothing. These people, who others have labeled as different, cannot think of a single thing that they would want to change about themselves. But the majority of the students in that room could come up with a multitude of things to change about themselves. Once the video was over, we turned our attention to a panel of autistic Baltimore locals. They each described their daily life and 
I began to think about how Autism would affect the lives of those around me after the experience of being singled out. I realized that anybody in history could have their life dramatically changed by diseases especially ones that change mental capacity such as Autism. Such an idea could be applied to Poe, Roethke or Yamada might have prevented them from being able to write their works.
During Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” there is a parallel between the poems on the ideas of freedom and confinement. In the story, freedom is a trade of between characters. One will achieve freedom and the other will die. I wonder if this is how the people with a disease such as autism feel about their caregivers. In order for an autistic person to thrive, often they need near 24-hour assistance. I believe that the idea of love portrayed in “My Papa’s Waltz by Theodore Roethke is something that everybody looks for. Two of the people who were on the panel at the event met through the organization hosting the event and are now married. Everybody, wither they are disabled or not deserves the comfortable and loving feeling portrayed in “My Papa’s Waltz.”

The poem “Cincinnati” first caught my attention because of the form. It is written in short, thin stanzas with minimal room for over expansion on topics. As the speaker moved through the city, he also moved through time. He became more and more comfortable with himself as he became more and more comfortable with his city. I imagine this is the same way autistic people go through their lives. At first they may feel ostracized because they are different than everybody else. Soon, they begin to feel more like themselves in their own skin. I also watched a video on a dance company in California that matches autistic children with non-autistic children as pairs for dance and the result is beautiful.  It was founded on the principle that people are scared of things they do not know or experience. I believe the same can be applied to any disability. As we become closer with the ideas that we are unfamiliar with we become more comfortable with them and are better for the new experiences.

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