Image of author Kathi Wolfe taken by Alexander Vasiljev. Wolfe's eyes are directed downward. She is wearing glasses and a blue denim top. She has white skin and greying hair. She appears thoughtful.

How To Witness Without Seeing

In the second installment of my Discordance series with Jacket2, I interview poet Kathi Wolfe. In Wolfe’s introduction to We Are Not Your Metaphor: a disability poetry anthology, she writes about the long literary tradition of using disability as a metaphor for all things bad: “How often have you read poems that use blindness as a metaphor for spiritual ignorance, unthinking faith, or moral failings? Or deafness used as a metaphor for isolation, aloneness — a failure to emotionally communicate? Think: world of darkness. Deaf ears. Crippling rage.” While she doesn’t think poets can excise figurative language from their writing entirely, she does argue that metaphors reclaimed and influenced by the materiality of lived disabled experience can make our poetry less derivative and more specific. To read more of Wolfe’s thoughts alongside my engagement with her poem “Blind Spot,” visit How to Witness Without Seeing.

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