50 objects 20: Neglected Voices

Neglected Voices is a project by Allan Sutherland, a leading figure in the Disability Arts movement, who was poet-in-residence at the Centre for Citizen Participation at Brunel University during 2010-11. Sutherland interviewed disabled people about their experiences and life histories, then wrote poems based on his transcriptions of the interviews.

The project listens to, and shares, the voices of the individuals. Sutherland explains in his introduction how these are the stories that aren’t heard; how too often the voices of people with disabilities are ignored in favour of stereotypes or perceptions from outsiders.

The poem cycles are poignant and thought-provoking, tragic and funny, displaying a wide range of emotions and experiences and highlighting at once the speakers’ individuality and their common humanity. There are stories of abuse, of fierce independence, of miscarriage, of teaching and learning, of relationships, of hope, and of an essay that had to be handed in with squirrel footprints on it.

The poems can be read at Disability Arts Online. The interview transcripts can be read at Brunel, and the interviews can be listened to via the British Library.

 

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