On Disability’s Frontier

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In the Province of the Gods
by Kenny Fries
University of Wisconsin Press. 216 pages, $26.95

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Fries’ latest book, In The Province Of The Gods, tenderly chronicles two extended trips to Japan researching the realities of people who are physically different. Initially, what surprised him was that he was treated primarily as any other gaijin (Westerner), and not as a disabled person. When visiting ancient shrines, temples, gardens, waterfalls, and hot springs, he wondered as he relished new smells and textures: “Is this the beginning of a new way of seeing?” His poems focused on the flowers, teahouses, rocks, and bridges, but he realized that “What I was actually writing about was what was held in the gardens: a microcosm of what it means to be alive in an ever-changing mortal world. And living life in a mortal world is perhaps the greatest lesson learned from the experience of living with a disability.”

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