“Vague Dream-head Lifted Out of the Ground”: Autism and the Sensory
A Reading by DJ and Ralph James Savarese
The concept of neurodiversity has encouraged people not only to accept autism but to embrace it as a valuable form of difference. How might autistic people teach neurotypicals to appreciate the nonhuman? What role might literature play in environmental activism?
DJ Savarese is a writer whose poems and essays have appeared in Bellingham Review, The Iowa Review, Nine Mile Magazine, Prospect, Seneca, Review, Stone Canoe, Wordgathering, and Art in Autism. His lyric essay “Passive Plants” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and named a “notable essay” in the 2018 Best American Essays. DJ’s chapbook of poems, A Doorknob for the Eye, was published in 2017 and the documentary that he stars in, wrote, and co-produced, Deej, appeared on PBS and won a Peabody Award. It was also nominated for an Emmy. DJ is a graduate of Oberlin College with a double major in Anthropology and Creative Writing.
Ralph James Savarese is the author of two collections of prose, Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption and See It Feelingly: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers, and the Schooling of a No-Good English Professor, and two volumes of poetry, Republican Fathers and When This is Over. He is also the co-editor of three collections, including the first on the concept of neurodiversity. A fourth, titled The Futures of Neurodiversity, is under contract with the Modern Language Association. A former neurohumanities fellow at Duke University’s Institute for Brain Sciences, Savarese teaches American literature, creative writing, and disability studies at Grinnell College.