Michael Morell was one of the finalists with the following one-line haiku. Here are some questions he answered about his poem and process:
the a(n)esthetic of ableist thought
I don’t remember the specific inspiration, so I'll give an example of an Ableist incident towards someone with dwarfism. Back in August, I took my car in for inspection. Instead of waiting, I went home and picked it up later than usual, and there was a different cashier I’d never dealt with before. When I arrived at the counter and said “I’m here to pick my car up,” she laughed out loud and said “down there?,” which caused the other cashier to laugh. As a very tall woman, her premise was that I was too short, or maybe not man enough, to drive a car. Both cashiers got a big laugh at my expense. Many non-disabled people might not recognize this encounter as Ableism, or claim over-sensitivity on my part. However, I have 50+ years of acuity to the subtlety of this “ism.”
Part of the piece was written in a flash— “the aesthetic of ableist thought.” That’s not yet a poem, so I let it sit while it boiled and brewed in my head. It becomes a meditative process, and this one took several months to complete. I refer to this style as “crock pot poetry.”
In my thought process this piece was always a monoku. I might have been trying to write an intentional monoku at the time. Most of my monoku are written with the format in mind.
I chose this piece because I believe it empowers a minority voice and pushes boundaries. Whether real or imagined, I was not finding much “Disability Poetics” in Japanese short form poetry. And in the same vein, I was not finding any Japanese short form poetry in the disability anthologies I was reading. On another note, the poem consists of five words (six if you consider aesthetic/anesthetic). I think its brevity provides a direction for exploring how much silence poets can create. Three words . . .one word . . . I look forward to reading more creations of this type and going even further. Finally, I love the description that the Trailblazer Contest provided as an example of moving the genre forward. I’ll paraphrase, but it went something like ‘write a poem that only you can write.’ That’s when I decided to submit this poem for the contest.
About the writing practice: Sometimes a poem arrives in a stream-of-consciousness, and it’s as if I’m having an out-of-body experience, more like the person looking over the poet’s shoulder than the poet themselves. At other times, the practice becomes a very meditative process. I may even repeat a line or phrase during my meditation practice, so that when I pick up the pen there’s a freshness that wasn’t there before. Or, my time on the meditation cushion quiets and opens my mind to allow the finishing touches to come through.