4 Poetry Collections for National Autism Acceptance Month
April is National Autism Acceptance Month, also known as National Autism Awareness Month. According to the Autism Science Foundation, one in 59 people have been diagnosed with autism. People with autism may behave and communicate differently than the general population, often displaying traits like little eye contact, touch averseness, repetition of words and actions, trouble adapting to change, and challenges with expressing needs.
However, though these are common behaviors associated with autism, they are not an automatic sign that someone is autistic and don’t apply to all autistic people. Autism occurs on a wide-ranging spectrum. Most importantly, autism should be accepted and represented more in both pop culture and everyday life. These four books of poetry about autism or written by autistic poets help spur this important conversation and carve out room for new, neurodiverse voices.
1. She Has a Name by Kamilah Aisha Moon
In She Has a Name, winner of the Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry, Kamilah Aisha Moon illustrates her experience growing up with and helping to care for her autistic sister. As its title suggests, Moon’s honest and essential collection includes things she wishes she could tell the world about her sister, pushing back against stereotypes and showing the power of family relationships. Above all, She Has a Name is a powerful lesson in how to be an effective ally to the neurodiverse people in your one life.
2. Alongside We Travel: Contemporary Poets on Autism edited by Sean Thomas Doughtery
Alongside We Travel marked one of the first poetry anthologies to feature autistic poets. The book weaves together the words, stories, and experiences of 32 autistic poets, attempting to showcase the wide range of emotions that accompany autism. According to Doughtery, the collection also aims to reveal “how we can be brought together through language towards love.”
3. All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism edited by Lydia X.Z. Brown, E. Ashkenazy, Morenike Giwa Onaiwu
Representing 61 creators of color from seven different countries, All the Weight of Our Dreams combines poetry, paintings, photography, fiction, and more in a stunning, multimodal book. The collection takes on autistic conversations and issues from an intersectional approach, depicting how people of color experience autism differently, how marginalizations can overlap, and how to proudly claim one’s identities.
4. You Are Helping This Great Universe Explode by Hannah Emerson
Non-speaking autistic poet Hannah Emerson has been featured in Bomb Magazine and Poetry Society of America. Her first chapbook, You Are Helping This Great Universe Explode, builds on this impressive career. Emerson explores the idea of what language means to a non-speaking person, and how this relationship can be deeply resonant and empowering.
To learn more about autism and being an ally to autistic people, check out the following resource: National Autism Center.