Archive | July, 2014

The Book Collector

18 Jul

(The person who posts all of the inspiring submissions on this blog (me!) is going on a summer trip and will return in 2 weeks.  I leave you with one of my favorite poems that was shared with us by one of our most touching poets.  Happy summer! . . . Stella)

by Mani G. Iyer

For years,
he rescued them from
dark, dingy stores,
some with rickety stairs
leading to dingier floors, where
they wallowed in unread silence.
Sometimes, he found them
in swank stores with
fancy coffees and plush couches, where
they lay in chaotic clumps
crying out their unfair prices.
He brought them home,
Carver, Cheever and Chekhov,
Kafka, Marquez and Nabokov,
Narayan,  Roth and Saramago,
Bukowski, Szymborska and Tagore,
and myriad more,
put them in sunlit, cherry habitats,
where they live together
as good neighbors
with fences, hard or soft.
They smiled, when
he took them all out, and
before putting them back
to their orderly lives,
lovingly dusted their jackets,
read their fronts, backs, and
random pages aloud, and
trumpeted their achievements.
They loved this attention, and
he glowed in their
luminous presence.
These days, he cannot
read their spines.
The neighborhood has
a forlorn look, and
all he can offer is,
to sit in front of them,
stare at their blurry profiles, and
recite names in full,
from scraps of memory,
and hope
they forgive him.


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.  Writing has always been a passion for Mani.  He has completed a writing fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center and is currently pursuing an MFA for poetry/writing.  He has also started a local writing group called “The Good Word.”


This poem is dedicated to Margalit Rabinovich and Stella De Genova, for their kind encouragements.

Crafting Anew

11 Jul

by Maribel Steel

How would you answer this question – what have been the most important resources for you in adapting to vision loss? Maribel shares her thoughts…

Life is about developing our skills in whatever career or hobby we choose to master. The only difference with losing sight is that we didn’t choose this ‘vocation’. Obviously, as the organ of sight weakens, we are forced to rely on our other senses. Apart from these sensitivities, three qualities that have proven to be powerful resources in my life are attitude, intuition and memory. I have found trusting my intuition to guide me when sight cannot, and improving my ability to remember the smallest of details, to be the two best friends of attitude.

My firm belief is that as sight fades, we can become the artisan of our new life’s direction by seeing our role as an apprenticeship: learning new skills to buff and polish until we can craft the life we want to live.

“The first draft reveals the art, revision reveals the artist.” Michael Lee

A few years ago, I had a strong yearning to jot down my autobiography as a legacy for my children so they would know about my life’s journey toward going blind. Then after I wrote my two hundred page manuscript, I found a writer mentor. She commented, “It’s OK, for a first draft.”

First draft? I thought I had finished it. That was the beginning of my writing career.

On good writing days, inspiration can flow and often situations that occur as I travel or the funny things people say end up being my published stories. But on those very difficult days, I can feel like I’m stuck in a sand bunker slogging out words that won’t lift out of the sandpit of this writer’s despair.

I have learned, as in life in general, to let it go, take a break and come back later. The reward is being able to craft anew and see the potential of my initial story begin to emerge. “

Every single person has a challenge in their lives and they will be confronted to face it at some point. It may be a health issue, the diagnosis of pending blindness, a mental illness, a relationship incompatibility, a financial concern, a family crisis – we have been enrolled in the school of life, and when we find others in our similar situation, it is like opening a window to a heart-warming realisation: we are not alone.


So how have you learned to craft anew in the school of life? We’d love to hear your story…

Maribel Steel is an author, mentor and inspirational speaker living in Melbourne, Australia. She has been legally blind with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) since the age of seventeen. She writes articles and networks like a ninja to share stories on “The ART of Being Blind” ( Maribel is delighted to have recently been accepted as a peer advisor for VisionAware (AFB).

The excerpt above comes from a recent online interview with editor of Exceptions Journal – the art and literary magazine for students with a disability. You can read the whole article at:

I Walk Alone

3 Jul

by Fred Nikkl, Sr.

Moving from one dark place to an even darker place

always avoiding the light, I walk alone.

Shadowless, I walk in a shroud of dark,

stealthily creeping up over years to bestow my gift.

For some I hide in their very cells

finally coming out to surprise and terrorize.

There are times I wait outside and come

due to accident or a careless moment.

My best I save for the elderly-

who are looking forward to their golden years.

They will cry out in pain,

curse me and even pray to their gods for deliverance.

I care not for their cries and pleas.

I am relentless in my pursuit of their pain and suffering.

I am the curse of blindness.


Fred Nikkl, Sr. lost his sight 50 years ago but has never let that stop him from being a dad, grandfather, friend, advocate for the blind and all-round nice guy.  Blindness has also never stopped his love for adventure and his passion for writing.