Tag Archives: poet

Thought for the Day

6 Mar

“To be blind is not miserable; not to be able to bear blindness, that is miserable.” [John Milton (1608-1674), British poet. Second Defence (1654). Milton’s sight was impaired from 1644, his blindness becoming complete in the winter of 1651-1652.]


Listening to Rain

3 Dec

by Charlotte Poetschner

I once heard a blind scholar
Speak on the radio
About his academic pursuits and how these shifted
With the blinking out of his eyes.
The broadcast caught his voice and the chuckle of thunder,
As the man led the way from office to classroom.
In spite of it all,
He said he liked how the rain
Gave him back the sky.
In mist, whisper light upon his eyelids,
He saw the curved bottom of the clouds.
Touching everything
Like a universal cane tip,
Hissing on pavement,
Tapping the umbrella of the trees,
Knocking along gutters, edging the roofline,
The rain sketched in quick pencil greys,
as he walked by.

Charlotte Poetschner is a lifelong writer and poet. She is unpublished at this time, but is working on her first novel manuscript. For over twenty years, her main writing commitments involved preparing a weekly sermon, creative dramas and liturgies for worship and essays for church newsletters for her ministry as a Presbyterian pastor. Charlotte has been blind herself from diabetic retinopathy since 1986.

Words Wide Open & More

28 Sep

by Stella De Genova

One thing we can always count on in life is change and new endeavors can make that exciting.  I have new endeavors to share on a personal level and exciting news about one of our favorite contributing poets.

Here in Chicago, we’ve started creativity/art therapy workshops at Second Sense blind service organization.  Our first is Masks & Mayhem where folks are making paper mache masks and will then do some expressive improv from behind the mask.  Coming up in November is our creative writing workshop titled Words Wide Open, facilitated by our very own Jeff Flodin.  The mask makers are having a great time and opening up as the process moves forward.  I can’t wait to see what our new writers produce.

Another wonderful endeavor to share is that one of our contributing poets, Mani G. Iyer has just completed his first writing fellowship at Vermont Studios and besides discovering new changes in himself, his poetic juices are flourishing.  We can’t wait to see what’s new!  For a taste of Mani’s sensitive writing style, go to The Day I Met Angel Gabriel and scroll our archives for more.

Jack Kerouac Is a What?

3 May

by Jeff Flodin

No Kidding, I really heard this: A young sculptor held court over a lunch table of six colleagues.  “I dated a man who loved Jack Kerouac,” said the sculptor.  “I never saw what he saw in Jack Kerouac.  Jack Kerouac is a douche.”

None of the young man’s tablemates contradicted him and neither did I, never having read Jack Kerouac.  But I took the sculptor’s comment as a challenge to my ingrained literary world view, where Jack Kerouac was a trailblazer, a pioneer, a prose visionary.  Maybe his notoriety came more from his lifestyle than his craft.  Maybe his crowdGinsberg, Burroughs, Snyder, Corso—had more talent.  Maybe Jack Kerouac was a hack.

But a “douche?”  What exactly constitutes a literary douche?  Shallow characters?  Trite situations?  Vapid dialogue? I cannot clarify.  My copy of On the Road stayed parked on my bookshelf, never given the mileage of Siddhartha and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

I suspect the young sculptor’s verdict on Jack Kerouac had less to do with writing and more to do with the sins of his boyfriend.  People rarely direct their anger at the deserving target.  So be it.  I’m neither the sculptor’s analyst nor Jack Kerouac’s apologist.  What I detect is a lack of cultural and historical perspective.  Jack Kerouac changed the rules of the game.  He deserves his due.  Calling him a douche is like dismissing Jackson Pollock as “messy.”

So now I have decided to read On the Road.  Perhaps this trip will provide the missing perspective on my formative years.Perhaps On the Road will end up in the ditch.  When Ifinish here, when Spelling and Grammar check point out my typos and fragments, I’ll hitch a ride over to the NLS BARD website and download an audio version of On the Road.  Then I’ll be able to come up with my own noun to complete the phrase, “Jack Kerouac is a…”

Jeff Flodin writes the Jalapenos in the Oatmeal: Digesting Vision Loss blog (http://jalapenosintheoatmeal.wordpress.com/).  He also provides moral support for Stella De Genova as she does all the hard work for the Vision Through Words blog.  Jeff uses the JAWS screen-reading software and found, in this story, a major mispronunciation of the key word, for which he used JAWS Dictionary Manager to change the word’s pronounced spelling to d o o s h.  He suggests that other JAWS users do the same thing, as it helps add meaning to the story.


26 Apr

by Ana Garza

I see the defective human bodies of the earth,
The blind, the deaf and dumb, idiots, hunchbacks, lunatics,
The pirates, thieves, betrayers, murderers, slave-makers of the earth,
        –Walt Whitman (“Salut au Mond” 1889-1892)
When Whitman saw,
probably I was
dozing in a hand-planed chair, listening
to my grown children and my toddling grandchildren
speaking kindnesses in the parlor of some tucked away house,
or maybe I was
suckling my mother’s milk or cooing
in my cradle, too caught up in my fingers, the silk
side rails and the wool blanket I rubbed
against my face,
or I could have been
sewing that afternoon in the window
of a scrubbed house with lavendered women
whose comfort was that Jesus healed
people like me with mud from spit,
or possibly I wasn’t
caught up in the poet’s multitudes but set, like stone,
along the bank–my palm turned up,
a bowl, a bell, my call
for alms above his song–or more
likely, I just slept
on a cot, fevered in tifus, warming
my fingers between my thighs, until men or women versed
in charity smudged
rags across my hands and face
to raise me
for a meal. More likely, this
is where I was: a school
with broom handles to be sanded
for sale, broken
walls, drafts, bloated
floorboards, loose straw, unfed minds
and idle bodies for the babbling
lookers-on to notice
how the sloppy fingers of the blind stretch,
reaching for a voice.

Ana Garza wrote this poem while taking a graduate course on Walt Whitman, a poet known for his amazing inclusiveness. When she came across the line quoted in the epigraph, she noticed that blind people, like herself, weren’t really included.  Ana has an M. F. A. from California State University, Fresno. forty-four of her poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies, most recently in A handful of Stones, The New Verse News and The Mom Egg.

Morning Meeting

17 Jul

by Sarah Martin

“Are you in trouble?” he asks me, and I look up as the first light of day emerges behind his body.

“No.”  I reply, puzzled by this strange mans question

“You are writing madly in your notebook.”  He says

“Oh” I am still puzzled.

“Are you in trouble?  Are you writing home to your family?” He asks again.

“No” I wonder why he thinks this “just my thoughts” I tell him.  I smile, and he returns the smile, his dark eyes sparkling from under his beanie.

“Poetry.” I add

“Oh you are a poet?”

“Hopefully.  Trying.”

The tram approaches.

“I am a night shift worker, and I dream of things like poetry.”  He begins to walk toward the tram.  Just as he is about to board the tram he turns back towards me.

“Good luck” looking me directly in the eye.  A connection with a stranger I had never felt before, like for this moment he understood everything about me.  “I might read about you one day.” He adds as he steps up onto the tram.

I am left with my thoughts.


Sarah Martin is in her 30’s 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.

Braille and Poetry

2 Jul

by Mani G. Iyer

It isn’t like scotch and soda
or, pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream
or, for that matter, burger and fries.
It just so happens
that my braille teacher is a fine poet too.
The big braille book lies between us,
I amble the trail of irregular bumps,
nimbly with the tip of my index finger.
He rides the same trail
with his eyes, and waits for me
to tell him what I discovered, at every clearing.
When I put my index finger to rest,
on the next milestone, lest I not lose the trail
or revisit the trodden path,
we discuss line breaks in poetry,
when to do them, and when not to.
He recites Stopping by woods on a snowy evening,
shows me the sentence patterns.
I visualize Frost on an evening trot,
his horse being more intimate with
the ground beneath them.
When I am done with assembling the bumps
into words and relate the final sentence,
he tells me, I am on the right track.
For the next lesson, he types up
the Frost poem in braille
for me to feel the poetry.


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.