A New Materialisms Poetics of Touch: David Eastham’s Understand: 50 Memowriter Poems
Although often mentioned in summarial histories of “first” authors with autism, the work of the Canadian David Eastham has not been analyzed at the level of form to date. Using Melanie Yergeau’s scholarship challenging the ruling episteme of biomedicine when it comes to neurodivergence, this paper considers biographical elements of Eastham’s life to confirm biomedical primacy in the accounts made by others. Then Eastham’s own work undergoes formal analysis to show how Eastham’s own words resisted the episteme while, even today, those means of those same words, provided by the contested practise of Facilitated Communication, are challenged by biomedicine. The method of close reading is used to interpret Eastham’s work, as guided by the theory inherent to new materialisms. The result is exposing an uncomfortable match between medical models and the alternative embodiment concept when it comes to interpreting the poetry of disabled people.
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