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"Bow forward, pour yourself into your capable hands, and hold
Bow forward, pour your stomach into your feeble hands, release
the binds that bind so tightly to your spinal column.
Bow again, drop your sexual organs into waiting hands, wait.
Breathe in, out, in, soothe."(p. 3)
These are the instructions that Jose Miguel Esteban follows in the beginning of his review of Petra Kupper's book, "Gut Botany", in the Disability Studies Quarterly. He states that "In this moment of holding, I embrace my struggle to articulate a response to Kuppers’ words. It is in this embrace that I begin to understand the critical and creative possibilities that her poetry collection could inspire for all of us engaging in disability studies."
Kuppers describes Gut Botany as “chart[ing] my body/language living on indigenous land as a white settler and traveler” (85).
In the section entitled “Bug Junction,” she evokes the Anishinaabeg teachings of Grandmother Moon while confronting the precarity of her own belonging within settler colonial contexts. Responding to “Big Spirit Moon” she writes:
"I am not spared precarity
in my occupation of indigenous lands.
I cannot see the lake the way you root
drum, burn the chitin, an alarm." (p. 72)
Jose states that "This collection of poems does more than just suggest a poetics of disability, it pushes all of us engaging in disability studies—students, teachers, activists, and artists—to feel more critically through our own physical movement in, and embodied relationships to the spaces we inhabit. As we allow our bodies to respond to Kuppers’ choreographic prompts, perhaps we might begin to encounter our critical work as also engaging in moments of creative play. In this space of play, we can begin to imagine and re-imagine how we come together in space and how we dream of coming together in community."
In addition to receiving beautifully crafted reviews, Gut Botany was named one of the ten finalists of the ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and Environment) 2022 environmental creative writing book awards, which covered books from 2019-2021:
Petra Kuppers is disability culture activist and a community performance artist. She creates participatory community performance environments that think/feel into public space, tenderness, site-specific art, access and experimentation. Petra grounds herself in disability culture methods, and uses ecosomatics, performance, and speculative writing to engage audiences toward more socially just and enjoyable futures.
Congratulations on a fantastic book, Petra! We are so glad to serve as a partial home to your artistry, research, and care.
Read the full, beautifully embodied, performance-oriented review of Gut Botany in Disability Studies Quarterly:
More on Petra Kuppers: https://petrakuppersfiction.wordpress.com