Roxanna Bennett is a disabled queer poet with absolutely no academic credentials who gratefully resides on the aboriginal land covered under the Williams Treaties of 1923. They are the co-editor of Imaginary Safe House: Canadian Dis/Ability Poetics (Hamilton Arts & Letters/Frog Hollow Press, 2019) and the author of the Ontario Trillium Award-winning poetry collection Unmeaningable, (Gordon Hill Press, 2019). Their work centres on the lived experience of disability in all its expressions.
I did read some poetry in high school, the first book of poetry I bought myself was A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I was in love with the Beats and wanted to hitch hike to Colorado so I could go to the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. I used to send away for the Naropa school calendar so I could pretend I would be able to go somewhere so fabulously far away from 1980's Scarborough and North York.
I've always written, I don't remember a time when I did not. I started thinking of myself as a poet when I came to terms with my own Madness and embraced it. And when I realized my body is not robust enough for me to live out my secret fantasies of being a best-selling author of trashy sci-fi vampire fiction, I can't type that much. Poems are much shorter.
To have none, to be undefined, to dwell in the uncomfortable in-between spaces. Or not. Poets and jobs are incompatible. A poet is a magician noticing the world and expressing it through the medium of their body.
"The Trick" comes from my own lived experience as a traumatized neuroatypical disabled person navigating a complex industrial-medical system. It responds to and contrasts the works of disabled poet Jim Ferris with the work of T.S. Eliot and the difficulty of communicating pain and difference.
My disability impacts my cognitive abilities, if I could memorize a poem, I would choose one of my own, that would make it much easier the next time someone asked me to read it!