Thursday, April 10, 2014

Points of Inspiration

Back in 2009, I hadn't even thought of writing a pair of novels about two young guys in the early 1980s, one of whom becomes a paraplegic. In fact, I'd seen performances by people who would later become quite inspirational.

Amy Purdy on Dancing With the Stars
The term "inspirational" is a touchy subject for disabled people. That's because for able-bodied people to rarify disabled folks as a form of Hallmark Card-Lassie "overcoming obstacles" hero is diminishing and, well, kind of stupid.

Certainly anyone who accomplishes something extraordinary is an inspiration for those of us who may not, say, ski down a mountain or perform on Dancing With the Stars.

But this isn't about Amy Purdy, the double amputee snowboard athlete and contestant on the show, even though she is fabulous.

Purdy's performances offer some interesting entertaining visibility, but within the Hollywood beauty standards one would expect from such a TV show.

And although some of its company members have performed on the equally "glamorous" show So You Think you Can Dance,  as a former modern dancer, I obviously found a more substantial "inspiration" seeing wheelchair-inclusive performances with a different choreographic style. 

Sebastien Grubb and Joel Brown perform "The Narrowing"
Specifically, seeing the innovative ways AXIS dancers move helped me focus on the actions and interactions with Reid and Everett, the two main characters in my pair of novels, Every Time I Think of You and the new sequel, Message of Love.

This weekend, AXIS Dance Company's new season reminds me of my more intellectual days as a dancer; pure movement, developed with an almost scientific approach. Yvonne Rainer's "Trio A" will be performed for the first time with a physically integrated company, in a new way. The work, known as a pivotal statement toward abandoning the theatrical dependency of music and emotion, offers an almost scientific exploration of the specifics of movement. While understated to the untrained eye, it's fascinating, and as the company blog post says, making history.

Other works will include a film by choreographer Alex Ketley, and a solo and new trio by guest Artistic director Marc Brew. I'm looking forward to seeing some more movement that's about movement, even though of course as a novelist –heck, a Romance novelist, even– I add emotions and characters to my own work.

Maria R. Palacios
And although I aspire to a poetic beauty in my prose, it doesn't approach the clever and touching work of Maria R. Palacios

Back to 2009. Perhaps some idea got stuck in my brain when I saw Maria perform in San Francisco as part of the Sins Invalid showcase. Her passionate prose may have inspired some sort of idea in my mind, albeit about a much different set of instances and people.

So imagine my thrill when Palacios, who is performing in Chicago this weekend, agreed to blurb my new book! Here's her quote:

"Sexy and uninhibitedly queer. As a bisexual person with a disability and especially as a wheelchair user, I found the story to be written in a refreshing and honest tone without falling prey to the pity approach as it relates to loving somebody with a disability. Jim Provenzano's Message of Love successfully represents positive crip and queer sexuality. Bravo! "

And be sure to check out her new book, Criptionary. So many of her new terms are innovative and fun, but also offer a cultural critique that perhaps my own work may lack. Either way, it's great to get inspiration returned where you found it, wherever it may be.

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