Poetry, Disability, and Resilience

A conversation with poet Andrea Applebee about the relation between writing, loss, and survival


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media

Organizing Institutions



Jean-Michel Rabaté

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


0% Formal - 100% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "Poetry, Disability, and Resilience," a conversation with poet Andrea Applebee about the relation between writing, loss, and survival, on Monday November 6, 2017 from 6-7:30pm. The event will include a reading by Applebee and a conversation with Orchid Tierney, David Ting and Jean-Michel Rabaté.

Andrea Applebee, who taught at Penn in 2011-12, is now living in Athens. Her recent collection of poems, Aletheia, was published in 2017 by Black Square Editions. In addition to the letter of the poems themselves, the conversation will also engage the author's resilience and creativity. Applebee will share about the constraints met and overcome by writers with a disability like near blindness, and the altered sense of time, instinct, and relation to others that comes with doing things the "non-sighted" way. Throughout her gradual loss of vision, which began at the age of five, Applebee has grappled with limits and loss in a way that enables her to reinvent her identity and self-worth.

The event proposes a way of reading Applebee's poems that goes beyond the redeeming powers usually ascribed to poetry. This very special form of writing not only aims at some truth - here defined in a Heideggerian mode as "unconcealment," "unclosedness," and "disclosure," which the Greek title of her collection alludes to - but also generates some form of comfort, solace or ethical value.

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Now, I say each time getting up after some new catastrophe
now I'll be strong.

But the score is never even.
For an instant without knowing it

each of us sees
another instant:

it falls back like a shadow
from time's customs

commonplace at first glimpse like a stranger
with a resemblance to someone

you once loved, then striking
as when you notice rushing up to them

a person who resembles you.


Who knew that it would be like this: a few golden sour moments
stolen from the scales of chance.

Pauses, shortcomings.
All the loss. The loss.

It pounds out of us like water, like blood—
iron, sulfur, rust.

We keep pressing on the garrulous phases of night.
Fuck the lords and saviors.

Andrea Applebee is an editor and art writer living in Athens, Greece. She collaborates at Pyxida Intercultural Council to lead a writing workshop for refugees focused on expression, mindfulness, and growth. Andrea received her MFA in nonfiction from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010 and taught in the Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania from 2010-2013.

Orchid Tierney is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on landfills, waste circulation, and their relationships to contemporary poetry, poetics, and media. She is the co-editor of Supplement, an annual anthology of Philadelphian writing.

Jean-Michel Rabaté is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He has authored or edited 38 books on modernism, psychoanalysis, contemporary art, philosophy, and writers like Beckett, Pound and Joyce. Recent books include The Pathos of Distance, Think, Pig! Beckett at the limit of the human, and Les Guerres de Derrida.

David Ting is a student in the pre-health post-bacc program at Penn. He is interested in the continuities in tone, style, and architecture in the literature of the Americas, Europe, Russia, and East Asia. His senior thesis uncovered the fifty-year creative growth of William Gaddis's posthumous novel on the player piano, Agapē Agape.

"My eye condition was diagnosed when I was five. I was given glasses and functioned as a sighted person through high school, obtaining a driver's license, etc. During college, I slowly experienced more visual loss, eventually not being able to read easily even with magnification or walk in unfamiliar settings safely at night. I turned in my driver's license and trained with a cane at 20. After college, I applied for my first guide dog. When I turned 25, I consistently worked with a cane or my dog. I stopped reading regular texts completely.

When I had to acknowledge, to myself and others, that I had become 'low vision' or 'legally blind' in late college, I felt anger and sadness. I was unsure at how to do some basic day-to-day things in a non-sighted way, and it was becoming impossible to do them the 'sighted' way."

— Andrea Applebee