Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Chronic Poetics, Chronic Illness

Reading Tory Dent’s HIV Poetry through Disability Poetics and Feminist Bioethics

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2017), 11, (1), 83–98.

Abstract

The article examines the work of Tory Dent, an HIV-positive poet who completed 3 volumes of poetry from 1993 to 2005. Specifically, the article analyzes two poems that capture Dent’s intertextual poetic, cripped sonnet, and bleeding free-form lines, form that mirrors her imagery of pregnancy, miscarriage, and nursing at a time when HIV was understood as an alien invader. Dent’s poetry can best be understood through a disability poetic, highlighting the relationship of the poem to the page and to the embodied reader. Utilizing disability theory from poets Jim Ferris and Petra Kuppers, alongside Hillary Gravendyke’s conceptualization of chronic poetics, the article argues that Dent creates an intertextual poetic that allows for the poem’s form to replace the poet’s body; she also creates a temporal space that allows for multiple accounts of unknowing. The importance of this intertextuality and chronic poetics is explored through feminist bioethics.

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Day, Ally