Outside the Box

Each way I turn I am confronted by

conditions, restrictions

definitions, contradictions

tick this box

place a cross here

sign below please

The individual is categorised and correctly catalogued

for the supermarket shelf

so the discerning consumer may browse

the conveniently processed and packaged

new and improved, 97% fat-free

low cholesterol, salt-reduced people

I am placed in the bargain bin tagged “For Quick Sale”

a broken commodity

I will not fit their neat little boxes: I defy description

The little box created for me

will not restrict me, confine me

nor define me

I will be known

I will be understood

I will be found

outside the box


This poem was originally written for the opening of an art exhibition by a group of disabled artists called Studio ARTES.  The studio operates to assist people with physical and intellectual disabilities in a range of endeavours: work skills, travelling and finance, art and creative pursuits.  The title of the exhibition came out of continued discussions with government bodies for funding, but because their focus was varied, they were not able to be neatly categorised for government paperwork.

The metaphor of a box being used to define and categorise a person is not uncommon; the box being a metaphor of how we define ourselves, or have others define us; or how we make judgements based on preconceived ideas.  Thus the exhibition and this poem were an exploration of the preconceived boundaries that are placed upon people with physical or intellectual disabilities, about what they can or cannot accomplish.

Don’t dis my ability.


One response to “Outside the Box

  1. I love the poem. Love the entire concept of not letting disabilities limit ones potential.
    i have an autistic daughter and I am a writer so I do understand.

    Please feel free to ck out my poetry and writings at: http://karadouglas.wordpress.com/

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