Shame at The New Yorker

The latest issue of The New Yorker magazine features a poem by Marie Howe entitled "The Star Market". In the poem the omniscient narrator sees numerous disabled people in a supermarket. The poem’s narrator is disgusted by these deformed shoppers and goes on to speculate about the forbearance that Jesus must have owned to live among such people.

You can check out the poem yourself.

I am not an advocate of censorship, and in general I tend to believe that the world isn’t harmed by bad poetry. Howe’s poem is trite, rendered without wit, and though it tries to offer a speculative nod to the trials of Christian compassion, in point of fact the poet misses the mark even with this slow pitch Judeo-Christian theme. In short: the poem is just plain bad.

I don’t know Marie Howe. I do know a good deal about poetry though. Therefore I understand implicitly that the narrator of the poem is not precisely the poet herself.

I "get it". The narrator is a cultural figure just as the lame and the deformed are culturally suggestive figures within the proscenium arch of the poem.

But it’s a stupid poem. There’s an easy decadence about it. Contemporary American poetry is rife with this kind of thing these days. Wallace Stevens once wrote, famously, that "the world is ugly and the people are sad"—but he didn’t mean to suggest that he should earn "Brownie points" because he could see it.

And that’s the problem with Howe’s poem. The narrator thinks she’s smart. The reader is left to interpret that narrator’s degree of discernment and empathy.

At the end of the poem we’re told that Jesus, turning around to see one of these terrible unfortunates from the supermarket would likely have a problem himself.

And so the poem is execrable and it uses disability in all the clichéd ways that bad writing has always employed: these are the stigmatized and ostracized children, these cripples, who haunt the roads outside of Thebes.

Spare us.

I don’t read The New Yorker very often, and I seldom read the poetry there when I do pick it up. The magazine has never been famous for its capacities where poetry is concerned.

But now I will not read it at all.

Shame on them.


Chamber of Commerce for Persons with Disabilities, Inc.

A Chamber of Commerce for Persons with Disabilities has been launched as of June this year. 

"The Chamber’s mission is to help persons with disabilities and
their direct caregivers to form and grow businesses" through networking
opportunities, links and resources, and programs and services.

Chairman Peter Schoemann leads the Board of Directors,
all of whom are committed to people with disabilities and as
volunteers, receive no compensation for their services.  Clearly, this
is a very passionate group of people devoted to what, in their view, is
"a way to help the disability community help itself".

For more information and an application, visit


Continue reading “Chamber of Commerce for Persons with Disabilities, Inc.”

Grammar on White Cane Safety Day

Today is "White Cane Safety Day" and the President of the United States has issued the following proclamation.

We do want to take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary achievements of our nation’s blind citizens and to remind Washington that 17 years after the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is estimated that 70 per cent of the blind remain unemployed in the United States. I applaud President Bush for his proclamation, though as an English professor I can’t resist pointing out that the opening sentence has a subject-predicate agreement problem.



Monica Moshenko Interviews Howard Renensland, Founder & CEO, [with]tv

Monica Moshenko, host of Disability News & Views Radio Show has interviewed [with]tv Founder and CEO, Howard Renensland.  On her website she introduced Howard by writing this:

Howard Renensland, Father, Advocate, Actor and CEO & Founder, [with]tv

is a start-up corporation devoted to providing television and Internet
programming of, by, and for people with disabilities. Driven by his own
experiences the past 22 years advocating for his own daughter Victoria,
Howard found the single most debilitating factor limiting people with
disabilities is not their disability, but their image in mainstream
media. There is no mainstream television channel in the world
addressing the needs of and targeting people with disabilities as
viewers, consumers and participants. Howard resolved to change that by
creating , an inclusive media outlet that defines all people by their
talents and the quality of their stories, rather than by disability; a
place where his daughter Victoria and everyone else can work in a
universally designed workplace with a welcoming, inclusive workforce –
with-tv is born. Listen to this compelling interview with Mr.
Renensland to learn more about with-tv and how you can get involved
now! Television of, by and for people with
disabilities…..and everyone else.

Renensland, President and Founder of [with]tv, has been a professional
actor, writer, director, and teacher for thirty years. He is a member
of Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio
Artists, and Actors Equity Association. Mr. Renensland has appeared in
over 400 television commercials, numerous radio ads, and hundreds of
print ads as well.


Thank you, Monica!

Cross-posted on [with]tv 

United Nations Launches New Website re: Rights of Persons with Disabilities

For Distribution:

From: Edoardo Bellando []
Sent: Monday, October 08, 2007 4:46 PM
Subject: Announcement: new Enable website –

Dear Friends,

We are pleased to inform you that the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), has launched a new website. The website in English is complete, while the new website in Arabic, Chinese, French, Spanish, and Russian will be launched in early 2008.

We invite you to visit the new website, and encourage you to update all links to the Enable website from your own organizational websites.

Happy browsing!

Best regards,

Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Please visit the UN Enable Website at:

Cross-posted on [with]tv