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Writer aims pen on accurate portrayal of the disabled
Adam Pottle is a busy man.
A novelist, poet and a PhD candidate in English at the University of Saskatchewan, Pottle, who was born with impaired hearing in both ears, is helping to create a new branch of Canadian literature study focused on portrayals of disability.
Pottle will be in Vernon to read from his new novel, Mantis Dreams: The Journal of Dr. Dexter Ripley, at Gallery Vertigo Wednesday.
Pottle’s own experience with disability has inspired him to explore both how persons with disabilities are treated in society and how they are portrayed in literature.
“We need to portray disability not just as a stigma or stereotype but perpetuate the idea that disability can be a means to an identity or can give you a new, creative perspective on life,” he said.
Through Pottle’s fiction and poetry —including the poetry collection Beautiful Mutants, which was shortlisted for two 2012 Saskatchewan Book Awards and the Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award — he explores how disabilities can shape a person’s identity.
Mantis Dreams: The Journal of Dr. Dexter Ripley is a searing satire that ridicules both political correctness and the restrictive world of academia. This first novel is also a difficult glance into the world of a man battling a rare and debilitating disease.
A wheelchair-user living voluntarily in a care home, Dexter Ripley lashes out at all those around him, yet he also shares his insights on life as a care home resident, his relationships with his sister and her son, his career as a professor, and, despite his bitter nature, his goal of creating a philosophy based on positivity and imagination.
Pottle will be joined on Wednesday by acclaimed fiction writer, editor, and journalist Dennis E. Bolen, who will be reading from his first collection of poetry, Black Liquor.
Bolen is a former parole officer who explains that there were few opportunities for creative writers in the late ‘70s.
“I craved a career that might offer non-boredom, so I talked my way into the federal prison service… Then I wrote about it,” he said.
Like the criminals he has worked with, some of the characters in Bolen’s fiction misbehave.
“Misbehaviour ends not with a bang but a simper; my protagonists do little but despair; my villains are often oblivious to their own villainy,” he said. “This is an interpretation of what I concluded after a 23-year career mucking about with criminals. I offer it through my books as a kind of antidote to the wrongness of most contemporary portrayals of social misbehaviour in popular art, as well as the tragically superficial coverage typically offered by news media.”
Doors to the Vertigo Voices with Pottle and Bolen open Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. and readings begin at 7:30 p.m. Gallery Vertigo is located at 3001-31 St. #1 (upstairs). Admission is by donation. For more information, call (250) 503-2297.