Archive | January, 2012

We Sit Beneath the Woody Sky

30 Jan

by Sarah Martin

We sit beneath the woody sky
Watching the light slowly fade
Golden threads
Drift toward the night
My brother stands
Sharing whispers of
Moving mountains
That he can’t shift
Dusty flames dance
Before us
And we spin blue bottles
Sending shards of darkness
Into the winters breath
And flickers of light into our
Shivering hearts
We wait for the cracks to open
And the first cleansing
To wash
Away the lingering dream

 

Sarah Martin is 32 years old and lives in Melbourne Australia.  She was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age 16.  Since that time, she has been on a journey of light and dark.  The one thing that has become clear over the past few years is Sarah’s passion and joy in poetry and exploring her world through words.

Stem Cells Safe, Improve Vision in Eye Disease Study

28 Jan

Saturday is normally “Creative Person of the Week” posting day and that will continue.  But today, I saw something that is important and worth taking priority.  Actually, we can say these are our creative people this week!

The first clinical trial of human embryonic stem cells to report any effects shows they are safe and can improve vision, according to a report in the Lancet medical journal.

A team at Advanced Cell Technology in Massachusetts, the University of California, Los Angeles and elsewhere reported the controversial cells worked safely in two patients with macular degeneration, a common cause of blindness.

Human embryonic stem cells are the body’s master cells. From a cluster of a few of these cells soon after fertilization, the entire human body develops. Scientists have hoped for years to use them to regenerate cells, tissues and even whole organs.

But their use is controversial because getting them usually requires destruction of a human embryo. There had also been fears that they may be too powerful to transplant into people — perhaps developing into more tissue types than desired, or forming a tumor known as a teratoma.

This did not happen in the two patients treated by Advanced Cell Technology’s specialized cells, the team reported.

“It has been over a decade since the discovery of human embryonic stem cells. This is the first report of human embryonic stem celll-derived cells ever transplanted into patients, and the safety and engraftment data to-date looks very encouraging,” Dr. Robert Lanza of ACT said in a statement.

Geron Corp. began the first clinical trial of human embryonic stem cells, in patients with spine injuries, but abandoned the trial last year.

One of President Obama’s first acts after he took office in 2009 was the reverse restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cells. A federal judge threw out legal challenges to the decision in July.

In the Lancet report, the researchers said a patient with a type of macular degeneration known as Stargardt’s disease went from being able to only see hand movements at first, to being able to see only single finger movements to 20/800 vision after four months.

A second, older patient with “dry” macular degeneration, an untreatable form, went from being able to read only 21 letters on a chart to being able to read 28.

To See or Not To See

26 Jan

blind   /blaɪnd/ Show Spelled [blahynd] adjective, -er, -est, verb, noun, adverb adjective

1. unable to see; lacking the sense of sight; sightless: a blind man.

2. unwilling or unable to perceive or understand: They were blind to their children’s faults. He was blind to all arguments.

3. not characterized or determined by reason or control: blind tenacity; blind chance.

4. not having or based on reason or intelligence; absolute and unquestioning: She had blind faith in his fidelity.

5. lacking all consciousness or awareness: a blind stupor.

 

vi·sion   /ˈvɪʒ ən/ Show Spelled[vizhuh n] noun

1. the act or power of sensing with the eyes; sight.

2. the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be: prophetic vision; the vision of an entrepreneur.

3. an experience in which a personage, thing, or event appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not actually present, often under the influence of a divine or other agency: a heavenly messenger appearing in a vision. Compare hallucination ( def. 1 ) .

4. something seen or otherwise perceived during such an experience: The vision revealed its message.

5. a vivid, imaginative conception or anticipation: visions of wealth and glory

Thought for the day: You can be blind and have vision, and, you can have vision and be blind.

Geography Lesson

23 Jan

by Nancy Scott

For months, it tempted me
from the top of the piano
with its raised-ridge edges,
equator and hand-hold continents
spaced by smooth, plastic water.
Without longitude and latitude lines,
without poles I could touch,
I knew it must be
a basketball in disguise.
 
When the teacher left
the room one Wednesday,
I hefted the world without hesitation
and let it drop from my hands.
It just lay there.
 
Behind the piano, I held the globe
higher at my chest for seconds;
threw it to the floor to make sure.
It tried to rise a few inches
but subsided to Earth.
 
I checked for change,
one hand on each hemisphere,
then tempted a third toss
against the return of grown-up gravity,
but the world simply wouldn’t bounce.

 

Nancy Scott, Easton, PA, is an essayist and poet. She is blind.  Her over-500 bylines have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and newspapers, and as audio commentaries.  Her third chapbook, co-authored with artist Maryann Riker, is entitled “The Nature of Beyond.”

Creative Person of the Week

21 Jan

Rahsaan Roland Kirk (August 7, 1935[2] – December 5, 1977) was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist who played tenor saxophone, flute and many other instruments. He was renowned for his onstage vitality, during which virtuoso improvisation was accompanied by comic banter, political ranting, and the ability to play several instruments simultaneously.

Kirk was born Ronald Theodore Kirk[2] in Columbus, Ohio, but felt compelled by a dream to transpose two letters in his first name to make Roland. He became blind at an early age as a result of poor medical treatment. In 1970, Kirk added “Rahsaan” to his name after hearing it in a dream.

Preferring to lead his own bands, Kirk rarely performed as a sideman, although he did record with arranger Quincy Jones and drummer Roy Haynes and had notable stints with bassist Charles Mingus. One of his best-known recorded performances is the lead flute and solo on Jones’ “Soul Bossa Nova”, a 1964 hit song repopularized as the theme song in the Austin Powers films (Jones 1964; McLeod et al. 1997).

His playing was generally rooted in soul jazz or hard bop, but Kirk’s knowledge of jazz history allowed him to draw on many elements of the music’s past, from ragtime to swing and free jazz. Kirk also absorbed classical influences, and his artistry reflected elements of pop music by composers such as Smokey Robinson and Burt Bacharach, as well as Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and other jazz musicians. The live album Bright Moments (1973) is an example of one of his shows. His main instrument was the tenor saxophone, supplemented by other saxes, and contrasted with the lighter sound of the flute. At times he would play a number of these horns at once, harmonizing with himself, or sustain a note for lengthy durations by using circular breathing, or play the rare, seldom heard nose flute. A number of his instruments were exotic or homemade, but even while playing two or three saxophones at once, the music was intricate, powerful jazz with a strong feel for the blues.

Kirk was politically outspoken. During his concerts, between songs he often talked about topical issues, including black history and the civil rights movement. His monologues were often laced with satire and absurdist humor.

In 1975, Kirk suffered a major stroke which led to partial paralysis of one side of his body. However, he continued to perform and record, modifying his instruments to enable him to play with one arm. At a live performance at Ronnie Scott’s club in London he even managed to play two instruments, and carried on to tour internationally and even appear on television.

He died from a second stroke in 1977 after performing in the Frangipani Room of the Indiana University Student Union in Bloomington, Indiana.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rahsaan_Roland_Kirk#Biography

The Day I Met Angel Gabriel

16 Jan

by Mani G. Iyer

It was in a taxicab, reeking of
him, my overactive nose informing me.
He was the driver, and of course
the taxicab did not fly.
He introduced himself as just plain Gabriel
and when I confirmed, like the angel
he could not believe I knew, Gabriel was one
and to parade my skimpy knowledge, I added
that, Gabriel blew the horn.
Sensing a foreign accent
I inquired about his origins
and he said, heaven of course.

 

He then went on to expound
weaving through the morning flock of cars
about Jesus his shepherd, the love of his life
and how he sought the shepherd’s
direction and light
at every step of his fight,
and on and on, making me uneasy
about some Christian doctrine being poured
on me in a smelly taxicab, and I forced myself to say
I did not believe in religion, for all through history
it did a lot of bad
to which he emphasized the original intent of religion
as showing the path to god and heaven
and I laughingly told him, a bad me wasn’t going to heaven either,
and he consoled me, it is the intrinsic nature of man
to be bad, and that is why we needed Jesus every step of the way.

 

The conversation came to a halt
he opened my door, gently walked me towards the building
and while walking he confided in a genuine voice
he was very happy to have met me, and this was when
I had a flicker of feeling, if he could indeed be the angel.
At the entrance I hugged him, and bowing my head
asked to be blessed, upon which
he gladly placed his palm
and recited an unabashedly loud, fervent psalm.
I wept at the therapist’s office at how
a total stranger
from one of the poorest parts of heaven — Haiti,
could see through my suffering
and offer me with love, his brand of healing.
 

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.  He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision.

 

Creative Person of the Week

14 Jan

Joaquín Rodrigo Vidre, 1st Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez (November 22, 1901 – July 6, 1999), commonly known as Joaquín Rodrigo, was a composer of classical music and a virtuoso pianist. Despite being nearly blind from an early age, he achieved great success. Rodrigo’s music counts among some of the most popular of the 20th century.

Rodrigo was born in Sagunto, Valencia, and almost completely lost his sight at the age of three after contracting diphtheria. He began to study solfège, piano and violin at the age of eight; harmony and composition from the age of sixteen. Although distinguished by having raised the Spanish guitar to dignity as a universal concert instrument and best known for his guitar music, he never mastered the instrument himself. He wrote his compositions in braille, which was transcribed for publication.

His most famous work, Concierto de Aranjuez, was composed in 1939 in Paris, and in later life he and his wife declared that it was written as a response to the miscarriage of their first child. It is a concerto for guitar and orchestra. The central adagio movement is one of the most recognizable in 20th century classical music, featuring the interplay of guitar with English horn. This movement was later adapted by the conductor Gil Evans for Miles Davis‘ 1960 album Sketches of Spain. The Concerto was adapted by the composer himself for Harp and Orchestra.

(Excerpt from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joaqu%C3%ADn_Rodrigo#Life