On Poverty and Class in Literature

by janeeatonhamilton

Alison Stine, writing at the Kenyon Review, wrote the necessary essay “On Poverty” partially in response to classism in Claire Vaye Watkins’ essay “On Pandering.”

“We are poor because we were born that way. We are poor because our husbands or girlfriends left us, or our families disowned us, or our partners abused us. We are poor because we are raising children and children need things, like food. We are poor because of illness or disability. We are poor because the city where we live is expensive, but we don’t have the savings to leave. We are poor because we spent those savings on rent. We are poor because our rent was raised. We are poor because our fifteen-year-old car broke down again. We are poor because of student loans. We are poor because there are no jobs, or there are not enough jobs, or we’re working three jobs, but none pay a living wage.

We are not poor out of lack of hard work. We are not poor because we “want it less.” We stay poor because of institutionalized sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, and classism.

We stay poor because doors stay closed.” -Alison Stine

To her essay I would add:

Being able to have a job, even at McDonalds, is a luxury beyond many of our disabled writers who are on provincial or federal disability, cannot work, and whose low incomes are, consequently, not only meagre but fixed and unable to ride them through any unexpected storms.

On Poverty