Disabled Country by Neil Marcus

Neil Marcus

USA | b. 1954

Marcus’s poem “Disabled Country”

epitomizes the concept of Disability culture. Marcus characterizes disability
not as a medical condition or an affliction, but as a place—a place he inhabits
and shares with others, a place complicated by pain and loss but also tenderly
framed by desire, love and belonging. The artist’s vocal pace and
expressiveness invite us to listen more carefully, to pause, and thus to absorb
the weight of his words and the images that accompany them.

As a writer and performance artist, Marcus
has been a powerful advocate for the liberation of Disabled people from the
constraints of a society that sentimentalizes, alienates and subjugates them.
He was a key figure in the Disability Rights movement in the 1980s. His highly
acclaimed play, Storm Reading, was
performed internationally for over a decade, including on the stage of the
Kennedy Center, and featured on NPR and NBC’s Today Show. “Disabled Country” appears at the opening of the
Smithsonian’s permanent web exhibition “Every Body: An Artifact History of
Disability in America.”

More Information

Disabled Country

Year: 2011

Medium: Video

Courtesy of the Artist

ArtPrize Vote Code: 68604

If there was a country called disabled,

I would be from there.

I live disabled culture, eat disabled food,

make disabled love, cry disabled tears,

climb disabled mountains and tell disabled stories.

If there was a country called disabled,

I would say she has immigrants that come to her

From as far back as time remembers.

If there was a country called disabled,

Then I am one of its citizens.

I came there at age 8. I tried to leave.

Was encouraged by doctors to leave.

I tried to surgically remove myself from disabled country

but found myself, in the end, staying and living there.

If there was a country called disabled,

I would always have to remind myself that I came from there.

I often want to forget.

I would have to remember…to remember.

In my life’s journey

I am making myself

At home in my country.