Archive | June, 2011

Who Am I?

29 Jun

By Mani G. Iyer

(A Human Object)

From a void
I descend on this earth
aimless, unwilling,
an anonymous instance
of the species
of homo sapiens,
against my design. 
Carrying the baggage
of the human condition everywhere
I drift for miles
leaving a trail of
happiness, suffering and pain
on paths
directed, chosen or mistaken 
From one crossroad to another
I trudge till my legs give away
and I fade into dust
a photograph
a memory
a leaf of a family tree
into a void 
From void to void
who am I? 

Mani G. Iyer was born and raised in Bombay, India and has lived in the United States since 1985.  He is deaf-blind due to Usher Syndrome Type 2.  He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision. He has written poetry since the age of 18.

Quotation of the Week

27 Jun

Blind and unwavering indiscipline at all times constitutes the real strength of all free men.
[Alfred Jarry (1873-1907), French playwright, author. Corporal, in Ubu Enchained, act 1, sc. 2.]

If you are new to the Vision Through Words blog, a quote is posted every week that uses the word “blind” in it, either literally or metaphorically.

A letter

25 Jun

It is true that Vision Through Words posts poetry and essays, and when you look through all that have been posted so far, you’ll see a lot of very good work.  Although this is out of our ordinary, I received this letter from a reader and I found it rather informative and amusing so I’m going to share it with you:

Dear Editor,

I started listening to this book called “The Psychology of blindness on one of those new digital books that the Talking Book people send out.  I don’t know why they sent it to me, they do that sometimes.  I was also sent Bob Barker’s autobiography – you know, the Price is Right guy.  I don’t know why they sent that book either, but I’ll read it because I like that show and I think Drew Carey’s doing a good job.  (I just hope he’s lost some weight so when he’s up there on stage with those pretty models, he’ll look good next to them.)

At any rate, this Psychology of Blindness book reminds me of a school text book.  The first part is pretty interesting.  It talks about how blind people were treated way back when, in ancient civilizations.  It appears that the gentler cultures differed from the more brutal ones in that they killed blind people without torturing them first.

Oh, it gets better.  As cultures began to see that blind people could have some value, they made use of their talent for storytelling to entertain the kings and queens.  The book says that, in their new role, the blind were classed right up there among courtiers: contortionists, buffoons, eunuchs and the entertainingly insane.  Talk about a jump in social class.

A repeating theme in the book is that blind people have always had this talent for storytelling.  The book talks about Homer, the blind Italian poet and how he’d go  traveling around the Roman countryside in the company of his “boy.”  Apparently, the “boy” saw to Homer’s needs and, as such, qualifies as the original assistive device.  I’ve heard that term “assistive device” used in some centers for the blind, so that’s what this boy did for Homer.

It’s good to know that ancient civilizations stopped torturing and killing blind people, and discovered that they have a way with words.  It also makes sense to me that you and your blog carry on this great tradition of storytelling.  You could say we’ve found our niche.  Blind people have the gift of gab and I think we should all use it to its fullest capacity!

I’m still working on the Psychology of Blindness book and I’ll finish it, but right now, I’m gonna take a break from the heavy stuff and listen to a little of the Bob Barker book.  But I wanted to give you a heads up about that book about blind storytellers and poets so you could tell people to get busy writing stories and poems and send them to you.  If you decide to share this letter, I say, “Let’s get off our couches and sit down at the computer and start writing what’s on our minds.”  I know writing helps me clear my head.  So I guess I’ll get my Sppell Checker busy on this letter so I can send it off to you.

Thanks for your time.


22 Jun

by Darragh the Poet

Bliss is this to me

Steam setting softness, mystical memories melding

An orchestra glances notes of love

All worrisome infections healed from harmony

This is bliss to me.

Darragh became totally blind after a head trauma in 2004.  He says that a lot of his writing has his visions as a blind person that he sees in people or dreams.   Darragh has a poetry website of his own at

Quotation of the Week

20 Jun

Poetry is what Milton saw when he went blind.
[Don Marquis (1878-1937), U.S. humorist, journalist. Quoted in O Rare Don Marquis, ch. 11, E. Anthony (1962).]

Observing the Blind

18 Jun

By Jeff Flodin

From my vantage point, the problem is obvious: the blind guy wants to go up the stairs and his big, black dog wants to go down the stairs.  The solution is being negotiated – the guy’s nose to nose with the dog, wagging his finger in the dog’s face.  He’s really giving the dog an earful, but I can’t hear a word, being inside looking out.

From my window, I look down on that skeletal staircase connecting Upper and Lower Michigan Avenue.  It’s more of a ladder with a handrail, really.  Cast iron exposed to the elements.  This blind guy trudges up the stairs, grabbing the railing with his right hand while his left holds onto his dog.  The dog’s pulling the guy – I guess they call it “leading” – when all of a sudden the dog does a one eighty and heads down the stairs.

I don’t know why the dog decided to head down the stairs – food, probably – but he almost takes the guy backwards, ass over teacup.  And the guy’s hanging there, all splayed out like Christ on the cross ‘til he gets his footing and he lifts that dog’s front half off the ground by its harness and puts him back so he’s facing up the stairs again.  But no sooner does the guy put his foot on the next step up when, don’t you know, that dog swings around and heads down the stairs.

So, now I’m starting to wonder if this guy and this dog can ever agree on anything.  And I wonder what the guy’s going to do now.  Well, instead of giving the dog what for, with the finger wagging and the dog lifting, he sits down on the step and puts his head in his hands.  And I’m thinking the guy’s either going to crack up or start crying and I’m wondering if I should call the cops or the SPCA.  But the guy reaches into his pocket and pulls out this strap and fits it around the dog’s nose and fastens it behind his head.  And he does it all real gently, all the while talking to the dog, which I can’t hear, but I know that’s what he’s doing.  And the dog sits down and licks the guy’s face.  Then, they stand up and the guy takes the dog by the harness and they walk up the stairs together and they get to Upper Michigan Avenue just in time to catch the 147 bus.

Well, I see lots of things from my window – drunks, lovers and thieves.  And I’m putting them all in my novel.  But this guy takes the cake.  I’ll write a whole chapter about him and his dog and whatever invention it was that he took out of his pocket.  I like to think that, once he stopped the rough stuff and used that magical strap, how he got through to that dog.  I like to think there’s a lesson there.  I’ll put it in my novel so other people can get the message, too.

Don’t forget to check out Jeff’s own blog, to read some very insightful pieces.

Blind Is Beautiful

15 Jun

By Stella De Genova

I am starting a new movement.  Blind Is Beautiful!  And why not?  There have been all kinds of movements: the women’s movement, flower people, black power, gay pride.  Well, you can belong to any or all of those groups and ALSO belong to my movement.  Movements build solidarity and confidence and that’s just what we need.  Living with blindness builds strength and character and that’s what we have.

Don’t laugh!  How can blind possibly be beautiful, you ask?  For starters, we have exceptional extra-sensory perception.  We see with our ears and our noses and even intuition.  That’s almost like super powers.  Beautiful!

For another thing, what seeing person can take a deep breath and step out of the door into the big world with their eyes closed – every day?  Exactly.  That alone makes us courageous.  Beautiful!

And how many people can bump into the “Don’t Walk Here” cones or even a street pole, shake it off and keep walking as if that didn’t just happen?  Now that is resilient.  Beautiful!

Visually impaired people do have heightened senses, we are courageous and resilient.  We may have to remind ourselves of that from time to time but it is true.  We can think of famous people through history that were blind who have inspired the world.  We can think of famous people today that are blind and affect peoples’ lives through music, words or actions.  We may be every-day people but we are not ordinary and we all inspire others in one way or another.

I am inspired by the man who is completely blind and navigates his way through the city with only a cane or a guide dog to assist.  I’m inspired by the woman who keeps the office running and can navigate the computer like someone with 20/20 vision.  There are big accomplishments like blind people who have their own businesses or are in charge of programs.  But just as importantly, I am inspired by the person in the support group that shares a personal experience that makes everyone else in the room feel more hopeful and not so alone. 

Every day brings new challenges and every day we persevere.  Yes, we sometimes feel pain and sadness but we also sing and dance and laugh.  We are life.  We are art. 

I am starting a new movement.  So join the movement and spread the word.  Blind is beautiful and we are proud and we are here to stay!