"There is a ferocity to Cade Leebron’s writing. Something so beautiful in its honesty, in its brutality. There is no shying away from the muddled mess of truths in all their inglorious glory."
On Monday, November 26th, Cade Leebron read to a packed Writers House as the 2018 James Lapine Poetry Fellow, an honor given to writers at a particularly crucial juncture in their careers. Her work moved fluidly from poetry to essays. Each one contended with everything from the negotiation of privilege to experiences with disability to contending with the idea of home. Raised in Gettysburg, Leebron’s work frequently spoke to the terrors and the joys of growing up in a town too small to contain all of one’s identities. Amidst the Civil War reenactors and diner trips, there were instances of racism and anti-Semitism too frequent to be coincidental and too fervent to be accidental.
As a disabled person myself, there was such power in the open claiming of and recognition of disabled identity and community during Leebron’s reading. It was a kind of community that felt palpable in the air, in her words and in how all of us were able to bear witness to such an intimately personal exposure of self through language. I could find myself so easily in her words and yet they spoke through specificity of universal experiences engrained in each of us. Of reckoning with our relationships to and with our bodies, of determining how to move through the world, of love and of life and of multiplicity.
“Nothing perfect ever ends, or that’s a lie / I’m okay hanging out with” she writes in a poem entitled “Medusa in the Emergency Room,” a line so indicative of her beautifully unique sensibility. Taking that which is known and molding it into something that still remains familiar but with just enough of a hint of change as to make it new. I cannot wait to follow where her career takes her next and the brilliant and brilliantly heartrending work she will undoubtedly continue to put into the world.
Jo Bear '21 is a Writers House student staff member.