Sick Poetics is an issue dedicated entirely to exploring the limits and boundaries of sick, crip, mad, and disabled poetry. The work within this issue comes from emerging and established poets, writing through a wide variety of styles and experiences. Their pieces both contradict and complement as they weave through the complexities of harm and healing, fear and safety, death and life. There is hurt and anger, but there is also joy. As Tanis MacDonald writes, “This is supposed / to be grief; / but so is everything.”
You will find new writing from Brandi Bird, who corrals the nebulousness of illness into a personal glossary, stating: “I want to write about this but I have no words through the feeling.” Therese Estacion cuttingly dissects inspiration porn. Jane Shi writes on kinship through sickness. Michael Russell’s “Borderline” engulfs and refutes its own questions. Conyer Clayton gives us a sunlit pause to catch our breaths in “I don’t know how it’s possible.”
This issue also features a conversation between Rebecca Salazar and Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch about El Bechelany-Lynch’s books knot body (Metatron 2020) and The Good Arabs (Metonymy 2021). Together, they consider El Bechelany-Lynch’s exploration of individual illness through representations of fibromyalgia and chronic pain, as well as global sickness through their writing on transphobia, economic decay, and colonialism.
The backdrop of the current pandemic inflects the Sick Poetics issue, echoing through the poems but it never taking centre stage. Topics such as isolation, vulnerability and care aren’t new for these writers. If anything, the pieces in this issue offer the very tools and knowledge needed to survive and heal from such a crisis.
As a whole, Sick Poetics reflects the complex desire and necessity to care for others even when struggling to care for oneself. In the words of Steffi Tad-y: “We root as much as we can and yet.” We hope that you can find your own roots in these poems.
Eileen Holowka, Rebecca Salazar and Lauren Turner