This week's Strange Horizons issue appeared as 2018 changed to 2019. It contained four poems and nothing else. What linked these four poems, which were all drawn from general submissions, and are not unlike other poems we have published over the last several years?

The answer: They are part of the tradition of crip poetry, a poetic style or poetic identity which centers the viewpoint of a disabled writer and challenges the idea that an ablebodied state is normal or default. It reclaims the word "crip" and the right to be subject instead of object. It's part of the larger disability arts movement within disability activism, making the invisible visible.

Invisibly, Strange Horizons publishes a fair amount of crip poetry. It's usually a coincidence. It's good poetry. We're glad it exists.

Each of the poems in this issue:

  1. was written by a poet who openly identifies as disabled (included with their permission)
  2. in some way describes human embodiment
  3. does not assume a body is something that can be taken for granted or works the same way for everyone
  4. has a strong speculative element (this is after all Strange Horizons).

Beyond those similarities, the poems encompass a broad spectrum of experience and subgenre. "Spare Parts," by Elizabeth Kestrel Rogers, is science fiction about a prosthesis. "Breaking," by Marlane Quade Cook, is high fantasy about unending battle. "La Belle est la Bête," by Milouchkna, is a fairy tale retelling focused on mutual caretaking. "in the Cult of Nearly-Lost Dreams," by Tamara Jerée, is surreal horror (or dark fantasy) about continually altered capabilities and physical identities.

If you solved the unstated riddle of this issue before it was asked, congratulations! If you didn't notice anything unusual about it, that's wonderful as well. Keep an eye out (or don't) for the rest of the year. There will be more, I'm sure.

Romie Stott is the administrative editor and a poetry editor of Strange Horizons. Her poems have appeared in inkscrawl, Dreams & Nightmares, Polu Texni, On Spec, The Deadlands, and Liminality, but she is better known for her essays in The Toast and Atlas Obscura, and a microfiction project called postorbital. As a filmmaker, she has been a guest artist of the National Gallery (London), the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), and the Dallas Museum of Art. You can find her fairly complete bibliography here.
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20 May 2024

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