Disabled Queer Poet Jillian Weise Upends Ableist Assumptions in Cyborg Detective

Jillian Weise, author of Cyborg Detective.

Among many things, Jillian Weise’s third collection of poetry, Cyborg Detective, published this month by BOA Editions, brings attention to ableism present within literature. As a writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, as well as a social media performance artist, Weise is adept at switching between genres and mediums to make visible the richness of disabled poetics. Her work often confronts issues of access–within physical space and within art–and upends tired notions that disability is supposed to be made hidden or secret, or that disability and sexuality are mutually exclusive. New themes around sexuality have begun to take shape in this collection, as Weise recently came out as bisexual and polyamorous.

Her YouTube videos feature her alter ego, a heteronymn named Tipsy Tullivan, who dons a blonde wig, a Pepto pink wardrobe, and gives hilariously terrible, ableist advice to nondisabled writers in a sweet-as-can-be Southern accent. Weise’s channel, Tipsy Tullivan’s Tips for Writers, was born directly out of a protest at the 2016 Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference when organizers rejected all panels on disability by disabled writers. She didn’t want to lecture them on something they should already know about–specifically the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act–so she grabbed a wig and spoke to them from the stage and adopted the stance of a nondisabled perspective, figuring that would be the only perspective they would listen to anyway. Tipsy has since interviewed disabled poets from across the country and once made an appearance at The New York Times (NYT) editorial room wearing pink cat-eye shades.

Read the full interview at 3:AM Magazine.

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