Please forgive any changes in audio quality. I cannot afford professional recording equipment or a home studio. Using headphones will improve the clarity of the interview. Kizzy’s poems are provided in text format as they were performed during the interview within this blog, in case you wish to revisit any. This interview was conducted in late November 2020. As with my other, I chose to transcribe the conversation myself, to avoid inaccuracies. Stay safe.
Note: The term Cerebral Palsy is sometimes referred to as CP within the interview. This is a common abbreviation for the condition.
You’re are you okay aims for mediocrity, we should strive for more – Kizzy Wade (2020).
Kay: Hello everyone. And welcome to another interview/conversation with me Kay Channon. At the beginning of the first lockdown, I interviewed a Spoken Word Artist and Musician, Poet, Activist, all-round freedom fighter, Miss Jacqui. This week, I’m lucky enough to be joined by Kizzy Wade. She is from Yorkshire. And she just read one of her Haikus, called Strive. All of her social’s will be linked at the end of this interview. I strongly recommend you go and check out her page.
I met Kizzy in virtual Coventry, at an event called Positive Words, which aims to raise hopes, and positive words for diversity in the middle of Covid 19. She is 16. She labels herself, funnily enough, as an Activist, and she has just began college in all of this craziness. Like me, she lives with Cerebral Palsy. I was grabbed immediately by her poetry, so I decided to reach out and have a conversation with her. I hope you enjoy. I thank you for your patience. For any of those who identify as D/deaf, Deaf, or hearing impaired, this entire interview will be transcribed, and you’ll be able to look up all the poems in text form, so I hope nobody will be excluded. Without further a-do, I’m going to let Kizzy introduce herself and tell you a little bit about the things that drive her to do what she does.
Kizzy could you tell us a little bit about yourself, how you see yourself in this situation and any current hobbies your might have? Apart from obviously, amazing Haikus?
Kizzy: So, I don’t really know…How to relate it to Covid, but since I started at the start of lockdown, poetry has become my main hobby. The Activist label itself, wasn’t something I was too happy with at the beginning. But, then I really realised what it meant, so started using it myself. Before Covid, I played powerchair football at quite a high level, Nationally, and Internationally at Junior level. Umm…I write a lot of disability and mental health…Those things are something I suffer with myself, so I find it important to advocate for people like me.
Kay: I mean, I would personally agree…As somebody that hadn’t heard of your poetry until…What was it…Almost two weeks ago now I think…With all those labels. There’s a problem with labelling people, as you say quite often, and I mean I have that problem…Umm…Because of the Cerebral Palsy label being so…Wide…But there is no question in my mind that you’re not an Activist, because…It’s not only Covid, that has made poetry more active for me, I mean like you, I’ve never done anything nationally or internationally with my poetry…Maybe once… I did something that was like a big gig, before Covid started, because there was no…Access to that for me. I’m 31 and I didn’t really grab hold of my poetry properly and know what it was until my mid 20’s…Well, mid to early 20’s, it’s a matter of opinion really…Umm… So, if I was writing poetry like you at 16…I mean I’m… I was blown away, because…My poetry at 16 was…I look at some of it now and think What on this green earth were you on about? Do you know what I mean? I had no sense of identity, I had no confidence, and I certainly wouldn’t talk about mental health in my poetry, which is something I’ve started to do now, because I’m dealing with my own mental health diagnosis, which is quite new, which came in before Covid actually…So I’m admiring you, for how far you’ve come already…
I think it’s great that you understand, now, the Activist label is right for you, because of the situation and what you write. So even when Covid is over, and I hope that’s sooner rather than later, you will still be able to say, I’m an advocate for mental health. As the interview goes on, everybody else will understand why. Could I just briefly ask, what is it that you are currently attempting to study at College? I know education is all over the place, for everyone…Literally.
Kizzy: I’m doing a Media Verse Qualification…Media, film and audio basically.
Kay: Media film and audio, great! That’s fab! I think that’s what I needed when we started this interview didn’t I? As I was like…Umm…Why isn’t this sounding very good? And of course, it was a really obvious thing that I needed to do.
Kizzy: Just going back to what you were saying…Before I noticed something interesting. You said about how you felt you only found your identity, as a Poet, later on…
Kizzy: I came into this really accidentally.
Kay: Oh really?
Kizzy: Yeah. One of my friends (WiFi breaks up a bit) Daniel Kay…Posted a really cool picture for an event at the start of lockdown. And it had a really cool dragon on it. And I’m a fan of myths and stuff…So I said, “Can I save the picture?” He said “Yeah, but do you want to come?” So I did. And since then, I’ve been writing.
Kay: Fabulous! Wow! – So, it was totally accidental. Just to clarify, I’m not going to dwell on it because it’s a massive can of worms, and it’s really not relevant…This interview, like the other one, is going to try and focus on poetry more than anything else…Y’know the art that we are making whilst we are in this situation, but Kizzy does have a form of Cerebral Palsy. It does affect her, I imagine very different to me…But this is not a ‘Jeremy Kyle’ I am going to probe into your personal life and then try and make it into some strange competition…
Kizzy: I’m alright talking about it. It has a massive impact on my work. Umm…So does my OCD…Both of those things impact how I write. It impacts my experience and what I advocate for.
Kay: Absolutely. I mean me too. You wouldn’t know it on the surface, but some of my poems were actually started whilst in isolation severely ill in hospital. I don’t really know what my poetry would be like if I didn’t have lots of different conditions and CP, because, for me, the worst part…Was when I became too ill to actually write anything. I mean…I couldn’t do anything for myself…So I think it’s a huge part of how, like you say, about the impact of your OCD and CP…How it really gets heard…From…What we would call it where I study is an experience which is embodied. So, an experience which is actually ‘lived’.
You’re not doing it as some clinician, with a tick box sheet. You’re doing it, from somebody that is living, and is touching everything, and is feeling the pain and the isolation…All of those things. Before we get too analytical about it, because I do tend to do that, that’s one of my weaknesses…Is there anything, in particular that you have found that has come out of having Covid come into our lives? For me, it’s been…Umm…Being able to perform poetry around the world, which I would never normally be able to do. Is there anything else that has really given you that…Hope?
Kizzy: Well, I think…Umm…It’s given me the time to be quite self-reflective…About how I’m going to go forward as a disabled person. Because, with my age, I think I’ve come to terms with my disability, but…not as a teenager. Because it changes through life doesn’t it? The way you think about your disability and what it stops you doing?
Kay: Absolutely Yeah.
Kizzy: So, it’s help me in that sense. And then, it’s allowed me to write, perform, and meet so many different people. And I think, also, it’s important to add on what you said about…We are not looking at it from a clinician’s point of view. It’s allowed me to talk to more people that…Might look at it from more of an outsider’s point of view…And…Not teach them because I’m not that self-righteous, but bring them into our experience, even just slightly…I personally think everyone who works with disabled people should contact a disabled artist…Speak to them.
Kay: Oh I know. It’s a slight digression, but have you ever had that experience where…You get a piece of equipment, and you just look at it and you think…Who designed this? Clearly not a disabled person, because that bit is over there, and that is over there and therefore…
Kay: Y’know, the nature of CP for example…It’s like, you get this piece of equipment to aid your life…And you do a 17 page form with an OT (occupational therapist) and you wait 6 months…Finally it comes and you’re like, so I can’t actually use that on my own. So, I still have to wait for a carer to come. So, actually…It’s sort of a burden. I really think, things by disabled people for disabled people are better. But also, I think there’s not enough…Umm…’able-bodied’ people that can come into our world. I definitely feel that being in Higher Education, even though I’m surrounded by the most amazing, understanding academics within my department. Whenever I try and step out of my department and I try and do something externally… it’s still that kind of strange stare…of like…There is a person with a disability in an able-bodied setting and she’s going to say something…Oh my gosh like Wow!
Even if they don’t say it…It’s just like that kind of reflective…Not a stare…but that ‘triple blink’ thing. Where they’re like….“Oh yeah, so I’m looking for Kay Channon?” And I’m like “That’s Me”. And their sort of like…”Oh…Oh really…” Y’know even if they don’t say it…They sort of start to say…You don’t look like…
Kizzy: That stammer is like they’ve started to notice who you are and they wasn’t made aware that you were going to be in a wheelchair.
Kay: Yeah. I’m not quite sure how that affects the conference or whatever I’m at but…Even now, at my age…Sometimes, I’m tryin’ to be invisible, I’m tryin’ to blend in…I’m like…Don’t draw attention to yourself until it’s your time. Even on Zoom, I’m trying to blend in, I’m like… trying not to move around the room too much because they’ll see all your equipment…Then I’m like you’re being stupid, they can’t even see…It’s one angle…They can’t even see…I just have those self-conscious moment still.
Kizzy: I don’t want to like ruin your programme…Or your interview…But, I’ve written a lot on other people’s perception of us… I… Have one particular poem that you can find on my Facebook page, where I talk about the ‘abled-bodied’ perception that there’s some kind of rule on how to speak to us…Like…There’s things that they can and can’t say. Whereas I feel like as disabled people…We are quite accepting of people making mistakes and if you make a mistake, we’ll tell you and we’ll have a conversation, we won’t…Like be too shocked.
Kay: I’m like you. I would much rather people just ask and me just explain what’s going on, than treat it as the elephant in the room. And, you’re not spoiling anything at all. I think, personally… I’m very free flowing with these interviews, they’re more conversations than interviews. So if you…Because of the territory we’ve gone into, if you’d rather read that poem than the Light of connection, that’s absolutely fine. So go ahead, when you’re ready.
Kizzy: We always talk about physical access, but I think a lot of the issues now, are more social acceptance.
Kizzy: So I called it Access and it goes like this…
When we talk about disability access we usually talk about things like steps
But we don’t talk about the steps needed to integrate disabled people into mainstream society
Into normal activities
Because it’s not just bricks and cement that need to be rebuilt
It’s priorities and psyches too
We need to recognise the value in disabled people
At the moment we act like reasonable adjustments are charitable
Firstly, they are a legal requirement
Secondly, we need to realise, that if a company makes these adjustments they have a disabled person’s input, that has value
Diversity breeds creativity
We need to normalise interactions with disabled people
There seems to be a consensus out there that there is a set of rules and regulations for these moments
Do and Don’ts
What we can and can’t say
As a disabled person, I can tell you we weren’t consulted when we were made and if you do actually say something wrong, we won’t suddenly keel over in shock
Most of us can handle it
We need to give people with disabilities the same rights to education
I understand that there are limits to what can be done to make a building accessible,
If it’s listed all the layouts unexpected
But that doesn’t mean education should happen on that premises
Because that puts disabled people at a lifetime disadvantage
Laws need to change
Most importantly, we need to stop behaving like everyone has access to equality
We need to stop acting like there isn’t still work to do
Like there isn’t still injustices
As an able-bodied person, you need to carry this message too
Because, as you’re sticking your head in the sand there are disabled people struggling to cross it
© Kizzy Wade 2020
Kizzy: Thank you.
Kay: Oh my God. That is amazing…Ooooh…Sorry I just need a minute to digest all that because…That is like…Do you know what…One of my teachers would absolutely adore you…Have you ever thought about studying Philosophy or becoming a public speaker for TED or something like that…In the future when you’re a little bit older?
Kizzy: I want to do a TED Talk so badly. It’s like one of my main lifetime goals. By the time I die, I want to have done a TED Talk.
Kay: Because…I feel like certain people in certain areas, and other Universities as well, because I know other people trying to integrate…Or they’ve had to stop their education completely because of their disability which I understand. I mean, sometimes I’ve had to because I’ve been too ill, but then I’ve always restarted again. But, I just feel like, you need to be involved in this equality and diversity initiative that every University is meant to have. Y’know, you need to come…And talk…And I feel like that…Poem would be a great beginning to your talk…And then you will just…Fly…
Kizzy: I’ve always been…Quite sceptical of things…Y’know, like local authority or diversity panels. I don’t know what yours is called.
Kay: (sighing) My main problem at the moment is…Like… I am always looked to…I feel like this comes up every so often…And people…Don’t mean it…It’s well meaning, but it’s really starting to grate on me now…I always come up as the ‘one’…Like I ask to do something that perhaps a wide spectrum of people are doing…And I can’t do it, because I haven’t done that piece of paper yet or they don’t see me to be in the right place in the timeline, fair enough…But within that response there is… But we’ve got equality and diversity week coming up so if you’d like to contribute to that…My main problem with that is…I can’t say too much because it sounds like I’m degrading my university which I don’t wanna do…But my main problem with that is, I do these talks and guess who they’re for? Other staff…That’s all…And I’m thinking…Even before Covid, I was struggling to be included outside of class with my peers, to go to rehearsals… For anybody that doesn’t know, if this is their first time, I’m from a theatre background. So, I came to written poetry quite late on. I used to do performances and I was with able-bodied people trying to make this ‘thing’…And even then, there was this resistance, bearing in mind I’ve been at university nearly 10 years, so I’m hoping it’s improving…But there was this resistance for people to have me in their group because they felt like I would not enrich them, I would hold them back…They would make their little peer groups and I would just be stood on my own…And it would be the usual like school. “Kay have you got a partner?” And you’d be like “No”. Then you’d be stuck with whoever’s left. And it would just be super awkward.
Or I’ve had…Like two people turn up and then been like… How can I do a PowerPoint and an interaction with objects with two people? I can’t. So, I just been the whole thing and let them ask me questions…This is not an ‘institutionalised’ way of dealing with diversity…This is not wide enough currently. And that’s just my opinion of it. Also, local authorities, I’m sorry, but very often they’re bound by money. And they don’t really care about how inclusive it is, it’s all about how much it’s going to cost them to support you within that environment, and that is still a ‘thing’ even if they do reasonable adjustments. They will be, whether you like it or not, they will be the minimum adjustments…Like, there will always be that extra ‘thing’ that you want that you can’t quite get to. All these things that I’m talking about, I hope with time, and with Covid hitting people like you and I very hard, because of shielding, at least some of that can improve.
Kizzy: One of the obstacles I’ve come up against…Two big ones…One of them is, when you do those talks or when we put out things like this, or like I put my poetry on Social Media…The only people that really listen and take heed, are people that already agree.
Kay: Yeah. That’s a huge thing as well. Getting noticed. Getting other people outside of a bubble that they’re already kind of half in, to listen to you, is sometimes the most frustrating…I don’t know whether I said this in the meeting but, there’s still this…And I’ve spoken to other Disabled Artists that heed this as well…I think there is still this misconception…that because we are…like you and I we are sat in a wheelchair aren’t we…And there’s whole idea of…because we are sat in a wheelchair that somehow we are intellectually compromised.
So, there’s this whole idea of… Getting people to listen to you that aren’t already half in the bubble, because they think it won’t apply to them, or it won’t happen to them, and in fact, my health has been deteriorating for a long time and anybody can become disabled at any time… So, all these issues are universal. And, yeah, getting noticed is a big thing, getting people behind you. If you don’t…If you’re like me and you don’t have a rich family or any kind of… Financial way to push you forward…You get stuck in these circles, but I do think, like we said at the beginning the Global Zooming is beginning to break that, because people that join poetry on Zoom, do genuinely want to listen. There are not just in a pub eating, while you happen to be talking about a poem about disability. But yeah, getting people to actually turn up and prioritise it, and also getting the Uni to understand that it’s not…Umm… Something that has to be scheduled in a segment…Like…Why can’t everyone come? Because also not every disability is the same for everyone…And it’s not all visible either…
Kizzy: Do you find, as an intellectually capable disabled person. So, as someone who is quite ‘able-minded’. Do you find that…Especially in school…Did you find you almost…Had to state your grades as a passport to quality?
Kay: All the time. All the time…Because I was one of two people in a mainstream school with Cerebral Palsy. There was me, and one other boy, and then another boy joined later on, and it was just…All the time, like literally…My school was very strict. You had to be A* to C to even be, pretty much integrated, luckily, I was at GCSE…Just…With Maths I was a bit…Crap…But it’s like you have to go around and tell people…Actually, don’t say sweetheart or love, because I’ve got…2 degrees, a Teaching Certificate, 11 GCSE’s, A Levels…Oh and I’m also doing this. And they just go…There’s just like this silence and you’re just like…So are we doing this thing or? I think the thing I liked about my University…It was less about the grades, because when everybody walked into that audition…I knew that only half of us would get in… It was a lot more about…Y’know…They strongly believe and still do in interviewing people here. So, it was a lot more about what you said in the interview, rather than what was on the paper. They were asking people, what else do you do, aside from your A levels on this UCAS form? That’s what I found very refreshing about the University that I’m at. It was very much like, what else do you do? And what do you think we can do for you? But, also there was that really awkward moment, where I was told you’re the first person with a disability we’ve had on our course, so you need to ‘flag’ us if something’s going wrong…And I kind of…I felt like that was…I’m not really sure if this answers your question, but I also felt like that was a huge burden, I also felt like… in that moment I was going to have to set an example for anybody that might come after me and actually… I couldn’t be that universal voice, it wasn’t possible…Like…Because there is no universal voice for disability I don’t think, other than…There isn’t enough access for people with disabilities…I think that’s pretty universal.
Kizzy: Like…I mention in the poem that you’ll ask me to read later, there are certain people…Especially people that seem to have power, or control, in like authorities and stuff…
Kizzy: That seem to hate the word disabled. So, they seem to think we don’t know we are disabled.
Kay: Yeah. That’s another weird thing, isn’t it? I had it from a doctor once…He sort of went… “Really! You don’t look like someone that has Cerebral Palsy…”. And I found that…Even though that was years and years ago. That comment…Still stays with me and it still disturbs me…Because I’m like…It’s not a facial deformity…And he was a specialist clinician, and I was so young, I didn’t know what to say back…I think I just mumbled and looked at the floor. It’s almost like…”Oh so you’re in a wheelchair.” And they sort of do that up and down ‘lookey’ thing, and they’re not saying those words, but it’s almost like… “So you do know…”. Have you ever had that…Whenever they think you’ve had an acceleration of a mental trauma, or any kind of mental health…So like, when I’ve come out of hospital, the Uni was actually the first ones to offer me anything, any kind of psychological recovery…Because it was a real…I mean all my times have been pretty bad…But, there was one particular time…Anyway…Of course I took this up…This offer, because I thought this is gonna be fantastic…I didn’t realise you had to go to somebody before you get referred to what they deem to be your ‘ideal’ Therapist…Whether it be in the hospital, or out of the hospital, or anywhere in between…You get this person that comes in and they’re very tentative. They sort of tiptoe in, if you’re in a private room or on a ward, they’ve got a clipboard, and usually a little like…Umm…Y’know something that says ‘Go Green’…Shopper…And they sit on the swizzle chair, the office chair, and they turn around, lean forward and go…”So how ya doin’?”
And you just feel like…Oooooh…Your skin…Your skin is just crawling! Because it’s just so patronising… And…And so…It’s like…You constantly make me pity my own life. You constantly have to remind me that there’s this illness, or this…Barrier and now you’re gonna get out forms…And gonna ask me to point to pictures or…And this is just…So…
(Kay trails off and starts laughing)
Kizzy: And they’ve got that…Form…And it’s that, 1 to 10…
Kay: Oh yeah, that thing. And then they deem your score…Oh…Oh my goodness…
Kizzy: And its rate how often these things pop into your head or you think about these things. Like…It’s so binary the way they look at things…It’s so worrying that something that can be quite…Umm…Fluid. I think mental health is the most fluid kind of health in this sense…Like…It’s the most unpredictable type I think. And…They try and stick it into like these tick boxes, and use words like ‘stable’ and ‘safe’ and ‘Okay’ and ‘Doing better’. And it’s…All very ‘let’s get you to a point where you’re not costing us money anymore’…
Kay: Yeah…And everything is like so…Oh y’know, you have some good days and then you have some really really bad days…And then you’re like, well how many bad days actually constitute a crisis. Or…Okay…Most people probably know what constitutes a crisis for them, but…I think you know what I’m pointing towards. It’s just…You spend all this time in the hospital and I’m not saying just for mental health on its own. I know some people do. But, from my point of view, it’s always for other things and then I find that mental health is really affected afterwards and I don’t actually realise how much, because I’ve been focusing so hard on the…Whatever it may be, the surgery, or whatever they’ve had to do to stop X Y Z from happening…It’s always so…Like…You always wanna put something in between the numbers…You always wanna comment, when they say like…’Do you find it difficult to concentrate on things and do you daily tasks?’ And you always wanna write something in between those numbers to say…It doesn’t really fit…It’s not really a 5 but it’s not really a 10, but then if I have this and that…But there’s no room for that…And I’m sure that’s because, like every medical thing, they just wanna put you in one box, on one graph. Because then they can say, “Yes, this is the problem, and we can fix it. Therefore, you will go away and that hospital bed will be free for somebody else”.
Because, at the end of the day, the NHS is under-funded, they’re under pressure, I mean…This person has come to 6 sessions and they aren’t improving? What’s going on? It’s like they always want to make you a statistic. Very much like how Covid goes…The statistic is this the ‘R’ rate is this…But…People don’t realise, for people with disabilities, that’s basically what our entire life is run around…Graphs, and budgets and boxes…And you kind of have to tell them well…Some days I’m okay, and some days I need this, and therefore my care needs to be at the top end, because I don’t know how I’m gonna be… I mean, that’s not an answer that they want.
Kizzy: I’ve got a poem called Not A Statistic. Probably a bit long to read on this, but if anyone wants to check it out, that’s exactly what I wrote about.
Kay: Oh fabulous! What we’ll do is we’ll link it at the end, because of the conversation that we’ve just had, I want people to have an artistic illustration of that…Umm…Would you mind reading…I’m trying to think which way is the best way around to do it now… the Diagnosis poem first then straight after the Disabled poem? If we round off with those two poems that will be fantastic. And then we link, Not a Statistic at the bottom with all the socials…Because I really want people to follow you up, and you want, and you need more followers…I don’t think I’ve got as many followers as you…I thought when I looked at your Facebook…I thought, oh gosh! That’s really good for the stage that she’s at…Like, I don’t think I have that many followers of my poetry.
Kizzy: I’m actually really pleased with how the Facebook has grown.
Kay: Yeah…Really good.
Kizzy: It’s all about awareness. And it’s all about, like we said, getting out of the…Circles of people that agree. And…Yeah…Lots of people comment.
Kay: I can imagine. And it’s really important to help people at your age as well…Because…I had really difficult teenage years…Because I wanted to be involved in things that other teenagers did, and then I…Umm…Had major surgery at 16 and it didn’t go well. It changed my entire life. It had the opposite effect. So, I actually missed out on a couple of teenage years…When I should’ve been growing with other teenagers. So, my teens started a bit later…And then, as a teen with a disability in a mainstream school…I didn’t really….I still don’t think I really had a ‘proper teenage experience’, inverted commas, whatever that is…I know it’s difficult for everyone…But, I felt like I missed out on a lot of personal growth and maybe that’s why I started to learn my crafts quite late on in life…
Anyway, enough yabbering from me, please go ahead and introduce in your own time, as you wish.
Kizzy: So, this is called Diagnosis and I wrote it for Mental Health Week this year (2019). I…Umm…It’s about the changes I noticed in people’s attitudes towards me, since my OCD diagnosis. So, it goes…
Since getting a mental health diagnosis,
I’ve noticed the difference in people’s attitudes towards my difficulties
When I was just an over thinker
When I was just a worrier
When I just held myself to high standards
They would offer legitimate sympathy and try their best to help
But as soon as OCD entered the conversation, they seemed to take a step back
I’m not saying people aren’t still supportive, because the majority of people try
I’m just saying the support is different,
People seem more nervous, they use words like stable and safe and tend to dig themselves into a trivialisation hole with a spade of empathy
Everyone seems to forget that although a label is new
I’ve always had my OCD
I’ve always had the things that they now worry about
The intrusive thoughts, the irrational fears, the things I have to do
The diagnosis is the result of the issues, not the other way around
Not all changes are bad though
More people recognise I need help, they recognise that my issues are the fault of a medical condition
They recognise I’m not just a difficult teenager
But the stigma is still overwhelming and that needs to stop
The main thing we need to remember is that the diagnosis doesn’t change the person,
It doesn’t change their issues and it shouldn’t negatively affect your attitude towards them
A label shouldn’t be taboo
People’s attitudes need to change
Names need to be normalised
© Kizzy Wade 2020
Kizzy: Thank you.
Kay: Thank you very much. Wow…I’m just gonna let people sit with that and replay it if they want and let you go on to your final poem.
Kizzy: So, the next one I wrote after…It was a hospital appointment in which the doctor that was involved was very inconsiderate. And would’ve rather spoken to my parents…
Kay: Oh yes. I’ve had that. “Does she take sugar?” Conversation… (Sighing)
Kizzy: So, I wrote this…D.I.S.A.B.L.E.D.
It’s no secret
I am aware
When I look in the mirror I don’t see Usain Bolt standing there,
I see the image that makes you say sorry like you’re in mourning
Or tap me on the head without warning
See people seem to doubt my intelligence at our first meeting
Putting on a baby voice and crouching somewhere
Between looking down and kneeling
Even Doctors talk above me to my able-bodied counterparts about things that I can answer that they can’t
Does the pain keep her up at night?
Does every day feel like a fight?
And then I say the sentence that has become part of my usual introduction
“Hi my name is Kizzy and I’m a straight A Student”.
An introduction onto your level
To be honest, the look on your face is something in which I revel
The way you stop and stutter
And the shocked comments you mutter
But I shouldn’t have to tell you what I got in my GCSE’s
For you to treat me like a functioning human being
You should automatically assume that I’m able minded
And cater to any other actuality as you find it
But until that becomes common practise
I’ll keep treating conversations with strangers like job interviews
So I can be judged accurately in their view
So when people say grades are just numbers and letters
That doesn’t make me feel any better
Because for me they are a pass to the respect I deserve
They give me a microphone louder than ignorance and allow my voice to be heard
A step ladder to climb the wall
To reach those who stand tall
© Kizzy Wade 2020
Kizzy: Thank you.
Kay: Thank you so much Kizzy. Can I just say, before I round up…Something has been marinating in my head since the beginning of this interview, and you can say if you disagree…But…A couple of weeks ago, there was a lot of Facebook posts going around, which I didn’t contribute to…I tend to not when things trend, because they wind me up…They tend to be daft things…Umm…But it was something…About Women ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ of the…Umm…Lower floor, or the ground floor of work, to reach the same level as Men. And…Whilst we’ve been talking, I’ve just thought…Umm…People listening, this is a common problem, as we’ve spoken about buildings and access, but we’ve also spoken about social access…So in my mind, I’ve got this thing I wanna say to everybody before Kizzy and I say our farewells. And that’s Kizzy and I are never gonna break that glass ceiling unless…One, the lift works, and two, you’re willing to actually listen and we get up to that first floor.
Kizzy: I have a Haiku based on that. It’s a recent one, it was…Umm…Not yesterday, the day before.
Kay: Oh perfect. We’ll link that in as well. I didn’t actually know that. It was just something that was really starting to wind me up. I was like…
Kizzy: Me too.
Kay: Yeah…Because I was like…What about y’know…Women that are equal but they can’t…We can’t get up the stairs unless the lift works, even if we get there, it’s going to be full of Men that think…Or possibly Women…But, it’s usually Men that talk down to me…Still, sadly…Feminism is not there. And I’m not gonna start off on that one, otherwise we’ll be having a second interview before we even know it. But…Umm…They won’t even…They’ll think;
“Oh er…Did you lose your way to the Disabled er loo”.
“No. I actually work here”.
And they’ll be stunned. That’s my dream. Yeah…The lift needs to work, and people need to realise that not everybody’s voice is the same, but everybody’s voice deserves to be heard, in whatever form…I’m personally making a real effort, to learn a form of sign language. Because, I feel…Umm…That it is need now in society more than ever. And it shouldn’t be separated. Everybody should know some basic way of signing. Because non-verbal people have a lot to say as well.
Kizzy: Without going off on another tangent…I don’t know about you, and I don’t know the statistics of this, so I might be talking rubbish. But, in my disability friendship groups, the majority of people that are employed, are self-employed. There has to be a reason for that.
Kay: Yeah. I hope employment does improve…Because people do deserve…
Kizzy: It gives people a purpose and make them feel less of a burden. Because feeling a burden is a massive thing. I think, when you have a physical disability especially…I feel like feeling a burden is something that most people struggle with at some point.
Kay: Yeah. And that is the system that makes people like us feel like a burden. We’re not actually a burden at all. Umm…I’m a strong believer in that. And also, if somebody can’t work, because their disability doesn’t allow them to be on a part-time or a full time contract, they shouldn’t be seen as less than a disabled person that can work. That’s also another problem. It’s like, there are some disabled people that want to work, but can’t. And there are others that can’t work, but are basically, like you say, constantly made into a burden for it. Maybe if we meet again like this, and we’ve all had a few more experiences…Maybe our next interview will be…How did you find X Y Z? And you can tell me…How you found, because you’re not there yet, I’m skipping ahead…Umm…The University application process, and then I can compare mine. And then, we can talk about “Oh, did you get any kind of employment stuff in between?”
Kizzy: I’d love to come back. I’d really enjoy it.
Kay: That’s fabulous.
Kizzy: Having a conversation about stuff that winds me up day to day…Umm…So that’s been nice. Thank you for having me.
Kay: No thank you Kizzy, for giving the listeners and readers of Disability Arts Online, some fantastic poetry. This is officially the end of the interview, but by no means the end of Kizzy’s work. Watch out for her, like her on Facebook, all the links will be there. And I’ll be talking to Kizzy afterwards, and making sure the poems are available in text form. I will also put them in the transcript. Umm…feel free to comment below. Also, please observe the SoundCloud link above. Thank you Kizzy for your time. We’ve had a fantastic chat. Is there anything you’d like to add before we sign off and stop the recording?
Kizzy: Just please, please…If you are not educated on, especially OCD…Please, make a point of educating yourself, because it is a very stigmatised issue. And…Umm…OCD is not an adjective. Some of the stereotypes are quite harmful…That’s something I’m really passionate about changing. I mean…We can link this down below. I was involved with a project called, I am so OCD.com…And it was for OCD Awareness Week. Loads of Artist got together to make this Instagram page and E-Magazine, that basically busted some stereotypes.
Kay: Fantastic. Firstly, we’ll link that down below, definitely. Because that sounds so valuable, and second of all…Umm…I have a form of OCD, and everybody assumes…All I’ll say is, (before I go off on my rant) is everybody assumes that my OCD, is purely to do with cleanliness and cleaning things. And actually, that’s not all what OCD is. That’s all I’ll say, and I’m sure, in your E-Magazine, and as your poem has taught us…I was trying not to interject too much about it…Because I wanted to give you the voice, because I felt like that’s what you needed, but…Yeah…Definitely, OCD is not all about washing things. Just because you take 2 showers a day doesn’t mean you’re OCD. Umm…And also, there are many different types and many different ways people can develop it. I didn’t even know I had it for a very very long time, because I wasn’t educated.
So now, Kizzy and I will sign off. Thank you very much Kizzy and I’ll speak to you soon. Do take care and keep plodding on, you’re doing great. Thanks so much for your time.
Kizzy: Thank you for having me.
Kizzy’s Poetry Page (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/kizzywadepoetry
Kizzy’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Light of Connection Poem: https://www.facebook.com/kizzywadepoetry/photos/139471014573845
Diagnosis Poem: https://www.facebook.com/kizzywadepoetry/photos/119273503260263
Not A Statistic Poem: https://www.facebook.com/kizzywadepoetry/photos/119704603217153
Glass ceilings Haiku: https://www.facebook.com/kizzywadepoetry/photos/141223004398646