A Los Angeles Review Best Book of the Year
“Readers who can handle the hair-raising experience of Jillian Weise’s gutsy poetry debut . . . will be rewarded with an elegant examination of intimacy and disability and a fearless dissection of the taboo and the hidden.” Los Angeles Times
When Jillian Weise wrote The Amputee’s Guide to Sex, it was with the intention of changing the conversation around disability; essentially, she was tired of seeing “cripples” portrayed as asexual characters. The collection that resulted is a powerful lesson in desire, the body, pain, and possession. These poems interrogate medical language and history, imagine Mona Lisa in a wheelchair, rewrite Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “In the Waiting Room,” address a lover’s arsonist ex-girlfriend, and show the prosthesis as the object of male curiosity and lust. Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, called the book a “charged and daring debut” and described Jillian Weise as an “agile and powerful poet . . . speaking boldly and compassionately about a little-discussed subject that becomes universal in her careful hands.”
Ten years since its first publication, our culture continues to grapple with questions limned in this collection. In a new introduction, Weise revisits and recontextualizes her work, revealing its urgency to our present moment. What are the challenges of speaking “for” a community? How to resist the institutionalization of ableist paradigms? How are atypical bodies silenced? Where do our corporeal selves intersect with our technologies?
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I. Removal of the Prosthetic
Wait for partner to exit room, or initiate their exit by requested a favor. For example, “Could you check the front door? I can’t remember if I locked it.” Wait for shadows to stand still, then quick, under the covers, remove the prosthetic. Let it slip beneath the bed, under clothes, behind a door.
To create an uninhibited environment for your partner, track their hands like game pieces on a board. For leg amputees, keep arms on upper body. For arm amputees, keep arms on lower body. Engage with like limbs. Keep half-limbs out of reach. Your goal is to achieve a false harmony with their body.
Mobility is key. If they see the half-limb then they become inhibited, nervous. They think: “Will it hurt like this? Would she tell me if it did?” Mobility shows confidence. Think for two people. Know where your limbs are at all times; know where your partner’s limbs are at all times.