Guest Blog: Poetic Activism

Maria R. Palacios

March 17, 2016

As a disability activist who uses the power of the written word to empower others, CTD and its Pen 2 Paper Creative Writing Contest are very dear to my heart. I see the combination of writing and activism as an uplifting force, as a voice able to break boundaries... able to generate transformative energy and empower people with disabilities to tap into their own inner advocate, their inner writer, their inner poet... their own creative spirit. As a poet and as an activist, the energy of the two is the force that gives life to my passion.

Through my poems, I share my scars, my own battles with my body, with ableism, with the medical model, with the taboos that condemn the disabled body to be seen as undesirable, unwanted, unlovable. Through my work, I expose the labels we are forced to wear, as well as the reality that the disabled body is able to love and keep loving, despite being told otherwise.

I dare say, most of my words are reflective of my immense love for life... my eternal passion for outspoken empowerment. I am very proud of my latest published work, which brought to life two gorgeous poetry books. Dressing Skeletons: A Poetic Tribute to Frida Kahlo, and Poetic Confessions Volume I. They both are collections of poems that were created in the last ten years. Poetic Confessions is steamier and more risqué, as it openly and poetically takes the reader through a journey of some of my most personal experiences. I am proud to have published material on crip sexuality that reflects just how real and how human we really are.


My personal advocacy often involves working with women with disabilities. I have made it my personal mission to share my experiences from a position of empowerment. The fact that sex and disability are still somewhat of a taboo subject is yet another barrier we must overcome in our quest for personal liberation. I know this is true for both men and women, but because women continue to face gender discrimination, we face additional struggles. When working with groups of women, I often bring up the subject of body image, self-love, and sexuality. I have learned women with disabilities are not only ready, but eager to explore this theme. We have been oppressed for too long. Maybe that's why I tend to be brutally honest in my writings. I think that when I share my truths, my desires, my memories... even the painful ones, I invite other women with disabilities to dare to see themselves through the lens of self-love and self-forgiveness.

In my various empowerment workshops, I use writing as a tool. Facilitating an eight-week workshop last year was a powerful way to teach women to combine writing with activism and advocacy. In the process, they found their own voices and also formed a bond with one another, creating an additional support system in their lives.

That is the beauty of the power of words.


A seated woman with hands on hips smirks as she tosses her head over her shoulder.

About Maria

Maria R. Palacios is a feminist poet, spoken word artist and disability activist who uses words to bring empowerment and awareness about issues surrounding disability and sexuality, body image, and self-esteem. Maria is also a professional presenter, public speaker and the author of a feminist collection of poetry, The Female King. Last December she released Criptionary, Disability Humor and Satire which is a book touching upon disability issues with a political and humorous voice. Maria is the founder of Houston's Annual Women with Disabilities Empowerment Fair and the Grand Prize winner of the 2013 Pen2Paper contest.

Maria was the featured guest at our Lion & Pirate open mic at Malvern Books Sunday, March 20th.

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