The Amputee’s Guide to Sex is an authentic exploration of disability and sexuality. Tired of seeing “cripples” appear as asexual characters in all forms of media, Weise took on a subject close to home: her own disability. This does not mean that these poems “happened” to Weise in real life. While based on the experience of an above-the-knee amputee, the poems have a life of their own.
The first section, “Translating the Body,” draws on the historical context of disability, the masons of the Taj Mahal, the first “deaf and dumb” person granted the right to have sex, and the surgeon responsible for the technique used to cauterize war wounds. By drawing these individuals into a dialogue with personal poems, Translating the Body introduces us to the past and present of physical difference.
“Help Your Physician Better Understand Your Pain” engages the often overlooked lover to a person who has been in the hospital: her physician. The title poem takes its cue from a medical questionnaire. “The Surgeon” is a spin-off of an Anne Sexton poem. This section interrupts the book much as a trip to the hospital interrupts one’s life.
The final section, “Of Holman,” employs a consistent masculine counterpart to show the rise and fall of a relationship. While Holman is a flesh-and-blood character, he is also representative of the larger tensions that arise between the abled and disabled.
It is also a book of poems exploring sex, pain, love, grace, redemption, and the absence of redemption. The Amputee’s Guide to Sex seeks to answer H.D.’s questions in “Notes on Thought and Vision”: “What is the body? Where does the body come in?”
Jillian Weise’s poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Chelsea, Tin House and others. Her chapbook, Translating the Body, was released by All Nations Press in January 2006. Individual poems have been honored by the Academy of American Poets, the Emily Dickinson Prize Anthology, Pushcart Nominations and Verse Daily. The Center for Book Arts published a broadside of “Portrait of the Author After X-Ray.” Weise studied at Florida State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she was the Fred Chappell Fellow. After working at The Paris Review as an Editorial Assistant, she was the Alan Dugan Writing Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which she completed in May 2006. She is now a Fellow at the University of Cinncinati.
Paper | 5 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ | 96 pgs. | ISBN: 1-933368-52-7 | List: $14.95 | 03/1/2007