CSU San Bernardino Ability Awareness Day, 2018, with Poets, Ona Gritz and Daniel Simpson
So. I want to say good afternoon to everybody. And. Welcome. To our third annual ability, awareness, event my name is Marci, Daniels, and I'm the director of services, to students with disabilities and. Workability for, I have. The distinct, honor of introducing, one, of CSUSB. Most, notable, scholars. Dr.. Jeremy. Murray is an associate, professor in the history department, he. Is an expert on the history of modern China as viewed. From the cultural, political and, social, margins. His. Teaching. Includes, themes of protest, identity. And marginalization. In modern. Chinese and global history, his. Latest research, has focused on the southern island of Hainan. He. Received his PhD in, history from, UC, San Diego, we won't hold that against. Him here at CSU, San Bernardino, his. Master, of Arts in Eastern Asian languages, and cultures from Columbia and his. Bachelor's, degree in East, Asian, Studies from. The State, University of, New York Albany. So, please everyone. Give a warm welcome to professor, Marie. Thank. You very much Marcy. Thank. You all for being here and thanks. Especially to our keynote speakers, ona grits and Daniel Simpson I'll, give a brief introduction, and then get out of the way. Ona grits is the author of the poetry collection, geode a finalist. For the 2013, Main Street rag poetry, book award and author, of another. Poetry collection, left standing. And. Also author of on the whole a story of mothering and disability, she. Is a best American, Essays notable. Author and her, work has appeared in The New York Times The. Guardian plowshares. Beauty as a verb the new poetry, of disability, literary. Mama and elsewhere. She. Has also written two children's, books including, tangerines, and tea my grandparents. And me which. Nick jr. family magazine named best alphabet, book of the year and, scholastic. Parent, and child magazine, named, one of its six best books for, 2005. Daniel. Simpson's collection, of poems school, for the blind was. Published, by poets, where Prada in 2014. His. Work has appeared in Prairie schooner the Courtland revue passenger. The, Atlanta Review the, Louisville revue and the. New York Times among, other outlets, Cinco. Puntos Press published his essay line-breaks. The way I see, them and four, of his poems in beauty, as a verb the new poetry of disability, and, by the way beauty, is a verb we'll have a few copies of them available in the raffle as well. He's. A recipient of the fellowship in literature from the Pennsylvania Council, on the arts and has been singing in the with, the Mendelssohn, Club of Philadelphia, a 140. Voice choir for over twenty twenty, years he. Works as a technical, support specialist, for the Library of Congress and maintains. A blog entitled. Inside, the invisible, a blind, writers view of living the attentive, life, Dan. And ona collaborated. On a book entitled border songs a conversation. In poems they. Edited more challenges, for the delusional, Peter Murphy's prompts, and the writing they inspired and also together, they edited ref chill magazine an online, literary journal, from 2013. To, 2016, I first. Discovered our guests work in the New York Times like. Millions of others and invited. Them to to. Our campus, the. University Diversity, Committee and. Especially Jan, Moore put. The idea, into motion and brought on board Marcy Daniels and Christina, Johnson and the, services to students. With disabilities, Jessica. Luck and David. Carlson in the English department helped. Facilitate the, visit and there was also help from the student press organization, as well as history Club and, file for theta leaders Efrain Perez Marmara, Zakhar and, LVO. Gonzalez, Sara. Alcochete. Elizabeth. Perez, Pamela. Cross and others also helped to coordinate the event and I want to especially again, thank Jan. Moore whose vision and leadership made, this remarkable, visit. Possible, both. Grits and Simpson beautifully combined humor and deep emotion, grits. Titles a poem one, of my favorite poems of, ona's, my. Favorite title the. Muse gets angry, before, leaving for school she's. Writing about her teenage son and, here. We not only get a touching, and a funny scene but, we also get a glimpse into how a poet, an artist, postpones. An important errand so, that she can welcome an arriving, poem, we, are grateful that she did she begins, I'm. Ruining, my son's life by, making him wear a jacket. I'll. Be hot all day he yells tucking the collar it's, too tight anyway slamming, the door he's. Outgrowing everything, jackets, pants my directives, on what to wear another. Mother would take this afternoon shop for clothes two sizes up but. In this silence I hear the start of something an image. Of stillness in the aftermath, of my growing boys rage back. In the birth room through a mirror I saw, his face calm, as milk in its cup he. Opened his eyes paused, released. His voice, startling. Himself, with its force.
In. His. Palm a few things daniel, Simpson sits, us down for, a casual chat with. Lines that alternate between Bri, diversion. And overwhelming. Power I. Don't. Know what a rainbow looks like or that, my life would be better if I could see one I don't. Know why I'm writing all this down I know. All the vegetables, in v8 juice there. Are at least a dozen ways to say snow in Inuit I know. Vulnerability. Is related, to hope but, I can't say how I. Don't. Know who killed the groom's in Duncan's room I don't. Know at what point you, should retire a working, dog, they. Have three roller coasters, at Nobles Grove my. Mother belly laughed when we got splashed on the flume or. Maybe it's four I can't remember now I, don't. Know why some people give up and others, don't. Great. Artists, like Simpson, and grits defy categorization, or. Marginalization. Even. While they championed, the marginalized, they. Challenged norms we didn't know we had internalized, norms. We didn't realize where obstructions, to a full and honest encounter, with the world and their, voices ranged from the quiet to the ferocious. Finally. They, lift the reader with catharsis, and wisdom, but. Be warned, they. May knock us off balance, but. Today we are pushed off balance, by wit and beauty and, finally. By, grace. We. Are off balance but, we are in masterful, hands with. Grits and Simpson, if we care to listen and if we dare to hear we, are guided to a new Vantage and it, is one that transcends, what we thought we knew it. Is my distinct, pleasure and privilege to welcome ona, grits and Daniel Simpson. Wow. Oh, Thank. You Jeremy I hope we can take you on the road with us. That. Was really, wonderful introduction. Oh. Good. Afternoon it's, an honor, and a real pleasure to have been invited to come and spend. This day with you. Anna, and I want to thank Jeremy. Murray and, the. Office of services. For students with disabilities, Jan. Moore and everyone, else who. Had, a hand in bringing us here in, the. Email exchanges, leading up to our visit, we. Asked if those inviting, us had thoughts about what. They'd like us to talk about, one. Suggestion, is that we talk about our road, to becoming professional, writers, including. Its relationship. To disability and, any. Obstacles, we may have encountered. It's. Funny though the, word that caught our attention first. Was, professional. Professional. We asked each other in stereo. Technically. I suppose, we are we write. Books and we get paid when they sell we. Sometimes get paid for articles, we've written if. We. Stretch. The net to include writing.
Related, Teaching. And occasional, readings and speaking engagements, that, ups our legitimacy. I guess as, professionals. But, I know. I didn't set out to be a professional writer. Fifteen. Years before dedicating, myself to writing I had, learned a thing or two about setting. Out to be professional, and. Well. Let me confess. Famous. Then. It had been as an organist. Yes. I technically became, a professional. Working, in a thriving mainline. Church but. It didn't exactly lead to my dreams of a claimed recital, is coming true I. Hope. That. You will find something about dedication. Passion. And persistence to take, away from. Our talk, but. I also want to strike a tone of admonition. I'm. Not, saying don't, aspire, to be writers artists. Or, whatever. Your dreams are calling, you to do if that's. What. You really want to do I'm, just saying be. A little Zen about it do. It for the thing itself, not. The external, trappings. So. How. Did I get here. That's. The question we often ask ourselves I, have. The good fortune to, be born to. Parents who read to me we. Read all of the Bobbsey twin books, which. Were especially important. To me and my identical, twin brother Dave, we. Read the usual fairy, tales classic. Children's poems, and later, Jack, London, and retellings, of Bible stories. Story. Time with mom or dad, made, a lot more, make. Me a lot more interested, in going to bed. Regular. Home life ended. For me however when. I was 4. Back. Then in the 1950s. Nearly. All children, like me and my brother were sent to residential, schools, for the blind, the. Lucky ones among us who lived close enough, to the school could. Go home for the weekends. Fortunately. All. My, teachers in the early grades did. Read to me and my classmates. Miss. Stout who read to us at the end of every day in first, grade stands, out for me I can. Remember how. Immediately. That amazing. Opening. Sentence of Charlotte's. Web. Where's. Papa gone with that ex. Reeled. Me into a world far. From Philadelphia. And the, high brick wall surrounding, the Overbrook school for the blind. In. A way it felt like instantaneous. Travel, every afternoon to some, farm just down the road from, where my grandparents, lived. Even. On, beautiful. Days when I would have otherwise. To go outside and play or. Even, miserable. Once when I wouldn't have minded sitting. In the dorm playing, records, I, hated. The bell that ended classes, and the. Way just when Templeton, was about to do something bad or right, in the middle of something, beautiful Wilbur, was saying to Charlotte, to make her feel better, miss. Stout would. Clap, the book close and tell, us to gather our things and run, along, I, hated. That Bell for ruining, the magic. Missed. Out did something else. Which. Had an equally, significant, effect on my life as a reader and eventually. As a writer. One. Friday morning in spring after. Ouya had acquired more, reading skills miss. Stout announced, that she, had a very special. Surprise for each of us she. Walked around to each person, and handed. Him or her a thin, packet, of Braille paper held together with, winged. Fasteners. I found. Two lines of Braille in the, middle of an otherwise blank. Front, page. My. Book, of poems, I read with. Daniel. Simpson, directly, below the title Oh. Mine. I thought my. Own book. Of poems. Let's. Open our booklets miss stout said and see if we, can read the first poem. Carl. Sandburg, wrote it about fog I especially. Liked, the part about fog. Being like a cat I, liked. That you could think of something as. Something, else. At. First I would have told you my parents, didn't. Do much thinking like that, but. Then I, thought. About all the times they would pick something I had, already felt, and used that to describe something I couldn't, see in, fact. They. Did it quite, often and very well. The. Next poem was about sitting, on a stone, and singing, to birds I like, something about the way it sounded, the way alone, and stone went together and birds, and words little. Sounds. Rises and, then. There was a poem I thought my cousin's on the farm would, have liked best something, about going. To a pasture. When. This stout read it I loved, the way she said you. Come to, it. Made me feel like for just a moment I could, leave, Overbrook, anytime, I wanted. One. Of the best things about the. School for the Blind was its library. These. Days I, can't. Just walk into a library browse. The stacks pull out any volume that calls to me sit, down at a nearby table and try, it out. Over. Brooks library, remains. One of the best microcosmic. Models. Of what. A truly accessible, world, would look like for me. Besides. Its extensive, Braille collection, the, library, possessed, a large collection. Of talking books which. We could listen to in soundproof, booths. My. Brother our, friend Bob and I made. A pact, whoever. Got there first after. School should, close boosts, for the other two of us so. That anyone else would think they were already, in use and give, up, that's.
How Fierce we were about reading I. Got. In a lot of reading time in my last two years at, Overbrook. Our. Seventh and eighth grade teacher mr., Kaden negotiated. A special arrangement, with our house mother so. We could use his classroom as. A reading sanctuary, after school when. We would otherwise just been killing. Time outside. Rain. Or shine. Also. Figuring. That boys. Going through puberty, shouldn't. Be subjected, any more to, house mothers walking, in on them as they, dressed and undressed in, an open dorm. Overbrook. Provided. Cubicles, with doors, they. Allowed just enough privacy, that, you could sit on your bed with, the lights out a real. Advantage to reading, Braille and read. All night if you wanted to. Without anyone but, you roommate knowing I. Don't. Know how I would, have survived, Overbrook were, it not for reading. It. Along with listening to the radio and having. An active imagination. Provided. Me a way to escape. The. Hi brick wall and go. Out into the world. Let. Me pause for a minute on mr. cotton in order to tell you something, about, him, that goes beyond, any influence, he. Had on me as a reader in future writer. When. I was in fourth grade a, third. Grade student drowned. In the school's indoor, pool. Mr.. Cotton was the gym teacher on duty, he. Quickly and quietly, vanished. For a couple of years then. Returned, to Overbrook to teach English. Like. Everyone else I never spoke to him about Chester's, death but. On some level I, marveled. At his willingness, to return. To the scene of such trauma in, order, to do so much good for us students. He. Gave his lunch time to teach boys how to play the oboe, he. Even talked. The school into letting him take, a couple of us boys home with him for. Dinner and an overnight a, big. Deal for us who had lost most, of our home lives I. Didn't. Have the words for it then but. All of this gave me the idea that people, can. Keep their hearts open and make. It through trauma past. Obstacles. Without. A word of preaching he, taught me an important, lesson about, character. In. Ninth. Grade when my brother. And. I became, two of the first blind people in our, County to try public school, all. Of our teachers just seemed to know what to do they. Provided flexibility. And accommodation. Without, being protective, or, less demanding. We. Were encouraged to try sculpting, and abstract, drawing, in art class and. Running. The high hurdles in gym. That. One didn't work out quite so well. But. We tried and other. Sports did. Work a lot better. Including. Football. Like. Too many students, I did have an English teacher who, could have killed my confidence, as a writer with. Her snide red ink on my class essays, but. Then mrs. Onderdonk came, along in my senior year a. Full. View, of the really. Cool kids. Snickered. Behind her back because she. Didn't mind being a little different. But. I'll never forget how a bunch of dusty, old ballads, came. To life the day she. Walked in dressed, in medieval, garb, turned. Out all the lights and. Accompanied. Herself, on her guitar as if it were a lute I. Learned. From her how, to read a poem and I. Learned from, the recording she played of TS Eliot reading the, love song of Jay alfred Prufrock that. I didn't have to understand, a poem to, be drawn into it. Soon. After that experience. I was. Sitting in Latin class one. Hand, on what I should have been reading, and the, other hand on the hollow meant so. I could memorize it just because I loved how, it sounded, I. Have. A problem. But. It's a great one to have I. Love. Too many things in this world i, blossomed.
As An English major in college but, I also picked up a second, major in music and, continued. Studying. Organ which I had begun during high school. By. My senior year I had invested so much into, both, majors, and gotten so much back from them that, I couldn't decide which path to take for, graduate school. With. About as much logic, as a, coin flip I chose. Music. The. Proverbial, road. Not taken'. Still. Had, a not followed, this music, path I would. Never have sung so many awe-inspiring. Works with. Choir and orchestra and, never. Have studied organ in Paris. It. Didn't all work out the way I dreamed, however, maybe. Even fewer people can, make a full-time living out, of playing, the organ than, writing poems I. Sure. Know how to pick up. On. Top of that I had, to recognize, my limitations, while. My blind organ teacher from Paris could, memorize the complete, works of Bach and the whole. Of French organ music, from, the Renaissance to the present, I simply. Couldn't I, can. Say with pride that. I brought wonderful, musicianship, to whatever I played but. I was not a prolific, memorizer. Fernet, for financial, reasons I left. Church work and became a computer, programmer. At. First I liked it but while programming, did require, creativity. It. Didn't satisfy something. Inside me the way the arts had I. Also. Got very tired of the corporate life. So. I started taking creative, writing courses and soon, I was finagling, to get, myself laid, off so. I could go to grad school with, a severance. Package I. Went. To Penn studying, poetry with. An under sung poetry. Poet named, Gregory. Janicki and whom I highly, recommend. That you seek, out but. The question of what to do afterward, hung. Over me as, I. Immersed myself in, reading and writing I got excited and curious, about how one, could communicate this love of literature to inner-city. High school students, so. I studied, to become a teacher. Soon. After graduating, I had. My own classroom at the Philadelphia, high school for girls I have. Never had more. Contact with people of color and teenagers. Than during my, four years of teaching high school I. Loved. The challenges, and rewards. Of trying, to connect students with literature, and, through. Writing with, themselves. Math. Problem. If. You have a hundred sixty students, and you. Spend 15, minutes on, each one in a week, be. It through reading. Their work right. Writing, back to them or tutoring, them, you've. Already worked a 40-hour. Week and. You haven't even planned, one lesson or taught. One. Needless. To say I got none of my own writing done. During. The school year. In. Julia, Cameron's, book the artists way I first. Encountered the, maxim. Leaped. And a, net will open. That's. Just, nuts, I thought, I, fought. With her every inch of the way and yet leaping is exactly. What I ended up doing I. Figured. I had saved enough that if, I lived, very simply and perfect, perhaps found, some small. Source of income I could. Make it financially, for a year I, took. That year's leave of absence, to write seventeen, years ago and I. Never went back I, couldn't. Give, up the, reading writing time again. These. Days I do part-time work is a. Technical. Support Specialists, for the Library of Congress, I have. The mornings for reading and writing then. I work afternoons from home for, the library. It's. Funny how if you. Live long enough different. Parts of your life can blend skills, in ways you. Would never have predicted. Who. Knew when I left church music for. Computer, programming that, I'd be gaining the skills that, would fund me when.
I Left teaching English teaching. English to become a writer. After. A living alone for 25, years I went. To a poetry conference, met. An amazing, woman who, turned her rich, creative. Life, up. For, me and, now. Here we are, married. Living, together, working. On separate, floors by day and sharing. A life full. Of music, theater, books. And most. Of all a fabulous. Ongoing, conversation. In. Addition. We. Get to live our lives a second. Time through. Writing. Joan. Didion said quote. I write. Entirely, to find out what I'm thinking, what, I'm looking at what. I see and what, it means what. I want and what I fear, and quote. That. Gift of a second, life through, writing belongs to all of us whether. We're professional, or not I. Encourage. All of you to take it even. If that's just setting. Aside 15. Minutes, a couple of times a week to, see what comes out. The. Poet Mary Oliver. Once. Told me at a conference that writing, is, like making friends, with a shy person if. You, keep your appointments, even. The 15-minute, ones, that. Shy person, will start trusting you, start. Talking. Start. Doing some thinking, behind the scenes. Make. Friends with that shy person, keep. Showing up and see what happens. It. Could change your life I. Find. It interesting that, I've. Spoken more about reading and writing than. About, disability, and overcoming, obstacles. That. May be because. Reading. And writing have, been, integral. Ways of, dealing. With obstacles and. Processing. The unknown and in. So doing of. Helping, to. Point the way forward. It's. Also because, disability is only. Part, of the story as, you will hear in the palms ona. And, I read back and forth later I. Am. Much more than blind. I struggle. With religious. Questions, that, have nothing to do with my being born blind. I'm. Puzzled. And intrigued. By. The unspoken, words and the smallest gestures, that, mark the spaces, between people. Just. As you might be. The. Poet Pat Parker, once said something that, has stayed with me. She. Said the, first thing you must do. Is. Forget, that I'm black. Second. You. Must never forget that I'm black. Yes. I think that's the ideal relationship. For me too I want. You to, forget that I'm blind and I. Don't want you to ever forget, that I'm blind. That. Said I don't want you to walk on eggshells around, me if. I can tell that you're, trying, to build a connection, with me not, just pet my dog or, pump, me with questions about blindness. Before. You've even said hello. I'm. Pretty forgiving, in. Fact. I want. That same same kind of forgiveness from. People different. From me so. Go ahead make some, mistakes around me just, be willing to be corrected, and try, not to keep making the same mistake I. Used. To lead workshops, on disability, awareness for. Librarians. And I'd. Say to them. Think. About responding, to a patron with a disability. As you, would any patron, with a reference question, the. First thing you ask is can. I help you if, the. Person says no you. Have to trust them you. Let them go about their business unless. They ask for help if. They. Say yes then all. You need to do is ask. The second question. How. Can I best help you, you. Don't have to memorize a list of do's, and don'ts, you don't, have to know everything. The. Content, of everyone's life affects. Their writing, mine. Happens, to be not, only. Blindness itself, but, also the effects of society's. Attitudes, toward. People, with disabilities. If. I hadn't been blind. My. Parents would never have sent me or been, strongly. Urged to send me to a residential, school when. I was just four years of age. But. They never would have moved to Philadelphia, either which. Opened, an array of, opportunities. Especially, cultural. Ones. Schools. For the blind tended. Toward. Exceptional, music education. So. Who knows if I would ever become an organist, and lived. In Paris if. I hadn't been exposed to chapel and organ. Music almost, every day for six years I. Am. White male. Protestant. And heterosexual. If, you. Think of oppression, in terms of who's up and who's down, I am. Definitely. In the up position on all four counts, but. Blindness, and disability. Put. Me in the down position. As. One of very few students, with a disability in, a public school I definitely.
Got To experience, being an outsider. Of. Course the trick is. Noticing. That you're on the outside, without. Letting, victimhood, take, you over, of. Course. No one enjoys, being, oppressed. But. You can learn to enjoy being you different. As you are. People. Often ask me if I, would under. Ever go undergo an operation to, give me sight even. If in doing so I'd. Risk the light perception I do have and the possible. Medical, and emotional. Complications. At. One time I would have said yes, that we only go around once and, I. Would want to experience everything I, could including. Seeing, people's, faces and, bodies seeing, sunrises. And sunsets and, all, the stuff, of beauty poets, write about. Now. However I think I'd say no I. Love. My life I'm. Really. Happy. I've. Spent 66. Years. Developing. This very identity, do. I really, want to mess around with that now. The. Israelites, had, a name for God. Yahweh. Which. Translates, loosely is I am. Who I am. There's. A real integrity, in that I, am. Who, I am even. In. My writing, I've stopped, trying, to describe, visual, things I don't fully understand. Relying. Instead on the senses, I no. No. I, don't. Think you'll see me heading for the operating, room anytime, soon, I still. Have too many plans hopes. And dreams for the life I'm currently living with the, identity, I currently, have, I, am. Who I am I, figure. If, it's good enough for Yahweh, it's, good, enough for me, thank. You. Hi. The. Summer after my freshman year, of college when. I was 18, years old, I had, the privilege of going to Boulder Colorado to, take poetry workshops, at a school called Naropa, Institute. That. Was my first experience, of being around not just published, authors, but, very famous, ones this. Of course was terribly, exciting, but. What I was really interested, in that summer was, finding a boyfriend I had. Someone in mind in fact my, cute classmate, rich, he. Was very friendly but I couldn't tell at first whether my feelings, for him were mutual. Then. One, night at a party he kissed me and it, was a great kiss slow. And thoughtful like, a good conversation. The. Next morning, he showed up at my door and invited, my roommates, and me to go pick apricots, at a tree he discovered, behind the public library. Four. Of us scrap paper, grocery, bags and trooped over and when, we got there rich climbed to the top of the tree and started, tossing down fruit, which, I caught in my skirt I thought. This was the most romantic thing, ever so. While it was happening, I knew, I'd go home and write up home about it to. My mind it had, everything, a good poem needed, it, had a cute guy a, hope a kiss and even, some nature thrown, in I looked. For that poem. Recently, but apparently, I didn't, keep it I'm, sure it was a typical love poem written, by a, typical, teenager, since, that's, what I was for the most part an aspiring, poet, but, otherwise a pretty, ordinary girl. Or. Maybe, the. Real truth is that I was aspiring to, be both a poet, and ordinary. Or. At least to be seen as ordinary by, cute Gaius and by, the millions, of people I imagined, one day reading my poems. I'm. Tempted, to say here that I had a secret, but that's not really accurate I had. Something, that people who knew me knew, about and, people. Who didn't could, see but, it wasn't something I made a habit of talking, about I. Have. A mild form, of cerebral, palsy and like.
Many People who have relatively, minor disabilities. I put, a lot of energy into pretending. It wasn't there. Cerebral. Palsy is caused, by. Damage, to the part of the brain that, controls, motor function, this, usually happens at or around birth, the. Way I understand. It is this, my. Brain sends, messages, to the left side of my body and the, muscles read. Them loud and clear but, when it sends them to the right side the muscle muscles, somehow get garbled, or, mistranslated. And the. Muscles only partially, understand. Cerebral. Palsy affects each, person, differently, mine. Compromises. My balance and coordination and. The, fine motor skills, on my right. Side. All. Of this is to say that before I was that young woman collecting, apricots, and my skirt and flirting, with my crush I was. The kid on the block who. Couldn't climb fences, or. Roller, skate or, jump rope or even shuffle, a deck of cards for, a. Brief time I was made to wear a leg brace but. Even without it my walk was stiff. And awkward and, slow and when, I tried to run all I could. Manage was. A combination, gallop. And skip, I. Was. Fortunate to grow up on a block that was rich with girls, my own age and at, a time when we were pretty much left to our own devices whenever. We were in in school and. This was true even when we were just 5 and 6 years old on long. Summer afternoon. We would push our doll carriages, over to each other's houses or. Bring, our Colorforms. And lite-brite sets over to each other Stoops. When. Someone suggested, a more physical, activity, like tag which of course requires, running, or. Hopscotch. Which requires first, standing on one foot and jumping. And then jumping on the other foot my. Go-to response was, to say boring. And, to suggest my own favorite games. Like. Doctor. Or house, or, later, rockstar, wives. If. This, sounds like a poor little crippled girl's story I don't mean it to sure. I might have felt a twinge when my friends. Would choose, to, play. Double dutch or to race, one another down the block literally, leaving me in the dust but. I was telling, the truth when I said those activities didn't. Interest me they. Were a reminder. That I was slower and clumsier, than the other kids, but, that otherwise, I didn't, think about that all that much. My. Attention, was on the stories, I was continually. Acting, out in my mind whether, or not my friends joined me where. I was a medical. Professional or, a. Wife, and mother or maybe. A teenage. Supermodel. Arguably. It was a coping mechanism this. Day dreaming, my way out of my disabled. Body with its awkward moves, and. Underdeveloped. Muscles. But, meanwhile, I was, developing another, kind of muscle that. Of my imagination. In. Seventh. Grade I, acquired. A floral covered notebook, with lavender, pages. There's. A term you may have heard purple. Prose. Wikipedia. Defines it, as text that is too extravagant, or knee or flowery. So. That it breaks the flow and draws excessive, attention to itself I don't. Know the origins, of the phrase but. I wouldn't be surprised, if it came from the unfortunate. Perry, of floral, covered notebooks, with lavender pages, and twelve-year-old girls. True. To form I filled. Mine with florid. Overly, sentimental, poems. This. Together. With reading was actually, the perfect activity, for me it. Allowed me to continue to flex, and strengthen. That muscle of, my, imagination, as I slowly, outgrew. My passion, for make-believe. Meanwhile. My, relationship. To my disability was, starting to change as, high. School neared my, friends began to spend less time jumping, rope and playing tag and climbing, fences and, more. Time listening, to records and, flipping through magazines and. Sizing, up boys a, part. Of me began to relax I could, do those things as well as anybody but, at, the same time we were all also growing, more concerned with appearances.
So. As we fussed over our, hair, and clothes, and, experimented. With makeup my. Cerebral palsy became, less about whether or not I could keep up and more, about how people saw, me did. My limp make me less pretty. Probably. But, then I didn't, have to look at it so I mostly, continued. To just press press it to the back of my mind, it. Helped, that I was still really into reading and writing, because, when I was involved with either of those things I was, hardly in my body at all. Now. Just as I was lucky to grow up on a block that provided. An instant, community, of friends I was, also, lucky to have wonderful English teachers, who, taught me that writing I'm, sorry that reading there wasn't only a means of escape it. Was also a way to stretch. My thinking. When. I went away to college at. SUNY, Purchase a small, liberal arts school in New York my, professors, push this further and it, was there rather, than with the famous poets, at Naropa that, I met my first real writing, mentor. Harry's. Vessel, was a shy, unassuming. An undiscovered, poet, who, also happened, to be a fabulous tea. Sure, early. In our working together Harry. Told me good, poems aren't, written there carved. What. He meant by this was that the true work of shaping, a poem and of, discovering, what's in it rarely. Happens, when, you're writing a first draft rather. It happens later when. You're editing. He. Taught me this by using my own rough drafts which, while no longer on lavender paper still, had plenty of purple, prose to shave away. In. A in the my first month's of my independent, study with Harry I'd, leave his office with pages, covered, in X's, you don't need this line he'd tell me or this whole stanza, for that matter. Xxx, until. Finally, he'd circle, the few lines he, thought were worth keeping I. Imagine. A lot of students, would come away from such a meeting feeling discouraged, but, I found the process thrilling. As. I. Watched Harry find the small artful, thing in the, rough slabs I showed him I learned, to see what he saw my. Poetry, notebook, may have been mostly xed, out but, inside, those small ovals, harry drew were, lines that were original, and musical. And somehow, true, more. Of this he, was telling me look, what you did here do, it again, as. A. Young woman with a limp I'd, given up on the idea that I'd ever be a great beauty but, I was learning to make something beautiful and. Of, course, while. I wrote, I could train my attention, wherever I wanted, and I, could portray the, speaker, the eye of the poem however. I chose, a, few. Years after I placed her at the base of an apricot tree, staring. Up through the branches that a young man named rich I met, another Richard. Who, was handsome, and athletic and, much, to my surprise crazy. About me, Richard. Loved biking, and soccer and, skiing, and he, was really good at these things which. Of course meant, we had very little in common but. Though I never said so aloud I thought, it meant something else - in, my.
Experience. Handsome. Athletic guys didn't, tend to go for, disabled. Girls and yet, Richard had chosen me, so. Using. That if a, equals, B kind, of logic, that I was never very good at I deduced. That our relationship. Meant that I was pretty much done with my disability. He. Thought I was done with make-believe, - right, so, did I. Richard. And I married, and I stayed in that world of pretend long, enough that we had a child together. Throughout. My pregnancy I, felt. Sure that I was ready and that I'd be a great mom, after. All I'd had all that practice, years ago with. My baby dolls and games of house, but. Then my son was born and I very quickly realized. Just how different, actual, infants, are from the dolls I used to play with they're. Bigger and squirmy. Er and they're, slippery, when they're wet. And. Even though they scream, and cry and keep you up at night they. Matter not. Just more than those dolls ever did they, matter more than anything. They're. These fragile helpless. Complete, human beings who, trust you they. Trust that you, won't drop them or. If squeeze them too tightly or fall, down the stairs while you're carrying them. Taking. Care of the baby was. The hardest, physical. Activity, I'd, ever taken, on and. While. I figured, out what, I couldn't could. Do and couldn't do and where I needed to ask for help I finally. Realized my, disability. Was, real. It. Was a hard lesson but. It also came as a relief as, a. Make-believe abled. Body person, being, clumsy, and having an odd looking walk were things to be embarrassed, about which. Is why I tried, not to think about them all that much but. As a person, with a disability I, had, specific, limitations. But overall, I did quite well, my. Son told me that he's. Been one of my great teachers. So. What does any of this have to do with writing. Not. Much at first, except. That, it was deepening, me as a person, I was. Beginning to understand, who, I was in the world which. Could only deepen, who, I was on the page I, found. Another of my great teachers, when. My son was 8 years old, his. Father and I had been divorced, for several years by then and I met and fell in love with a fellow poet, who also had, a disability. As. You'll soon hear, Dan. Writes openly, and beautifully, about his experiences. As a blind man, when. I first encountered him. And his poems this, struck me as a really radical. Rather. Than right to escape, his limitations, he explored, them in his work, slowly. It occurred to me that I could do that too. One. Day shortly. After Dan and I met I woke, up thinking about that long ago July morning, with the first rich and the, apricots, I, remembered. How when rich showed up at my door my. First thought, was, that there was no way I could climb, a tree but.
There Was also no, way that I wanted to say that out loud. Thinking. Fast I decided. To stay in my impractical. Wraparound skirt, so I could use it as an excuse, while the others climb, the tree and their shorts, and sneakers. When. We got there and everybody, was in the tree except, for me rich. Called down catch, and, I, had to make another split-second. Decision, I either. Had to admit that I couldn't catch anything, more challenging than, a balloon in my clumsy, hands or, let, him and my other new friends see that because of my cerebral palsy one. Of my legs was, thinner than the other, that's. When I was lifting the skirt to catch the apricots. Finally. After almost, 25, years I, sat down and wrote a second, draft of that poem, this. Time I put in all those details and what, I discovered, was that it was actually freeing. To. Allow my disability, into the poem and. I also saw, that the reason I didn't wind up with a poem worth keeping the first time around was that by leaving. Out the, limitations. Of my body and how I felt about it at the time kept. The poem floating, on the surface. It. May have been shapely, and even. Lyrical, because those were skills I developed early but. That's not enough a writer. Needs. To have something to say. So. While writing had once been a way, to escape my disability. It, became, the thing it's that actually, brought me back to my body for. The first time I wrote, about what it was like to have a child to, be a child with cerebral palsy, to. Be an adolescent, with a disability. And a struggling new mother, some. Of the stories grew to layered and complex for. Those finely, carved poems, I knew how to write so. I branched out and began, writing essays, and memoir. Now. What, drives me as a writer is the, desire to take, the stuff of life and shape, it into something not, just beautiful but. Meaningful, to. Find both the lyricism, and the, deeper truth and to. Learn from the writing, and the crafting, what, I might not otherwise come, to understand. I don't. Only write, about disability. Far, from it but finally. Inviting, it into my work broke. Me open, it helped. Me realize that if. You write from lived experience. As I do what's. Most interesting for, the reader what. Makes the story human, and relatable. Aren't. The ways that you fit in nor. Is it your triumphs, and successes. Your. Imperfections. Are, actually, where your stories live, where. You struggle, and falter. Where. You make mistakes, and then change and grow because, of them where. You're most uniquely, and, specifically. You. Thank. You. Well. The next section, is. Reading. Poems back and forth this is a swath. Of poems, that eventually. Morphed. Into with. Some additions. And alterations, into. Our book border song border. Songs. I'm. Aware we're a little tight on time but. Should. We just go yeah. All, day. These. Poems were not written to talk to each other they just happened to be the things that we were talking, about separately, and put together, all day. New friends, Massachusetts. Youth hostel, summer of 99. We. Three rode in the backseat of Larry's 88, Impala you, on my left Karen. On my right naked. Except, for our bathing suits and sandals. Larry, driving, at being his car and singing. With Paul to an REM, tape on tiny speakers, while, we three talked about who smoked grass and, when and what it was like in marijuana brownies and, the, difference between them and smoking, all the, while our warm. Knees and thighs hips. And arms, rearranging. Themselves against. Each other as we, jangled, over ruts and potholes. Jangling. Memories, and wishes, loose so. That I knowing. We were one day old together and tomorrow, this would end said, my, breathing, feeling thick where. Were you all you, and Karen, and Paul and Larry when I was in high school the first blind kid trying to hear a few, friends in the pep club Thanksgiving. Eve bonfire. Crowd. Trying. To find his way to a party of the, coolest classmates. Where. Were you, was. Prompted, Karen to say yeah. It would have been great and you, you, am I left to say hey. What, about playing basketball, can, we do that I mean, there, must be a way we can figure that out. 18. We. Never spoke of what my body couldn't, do so. When Jen and Kay, left. To pick apricots, from the spindly, tree behind, the library, I hesitated.
But. Rich would be there I showed. Up in a wraparound skirt, my. Excuse, to stand at the base pluck. From the bottom branch, the. Fruit was concentrated. At the top while. The others climbed, of course it was rich I watched, swinton. Up at him as I had all, summer. The. Night before he'd. Finally kissed, me his. Tongue tentatively. Grazing. My own, catch. He, called now and I lifted, my skirt to, form a net no. Thought to palsy, - exposing, my uneven. Legs, when. The first tangy, oval, dropped, into the foil I had, already begun, to taste it how. It felt to be chosen and, Hall. Acts. Of faith. Friends. Describe colours to me, trumpets. Are red they say, clarinets. Purple, and, oranges. Tastes. Like orange I. Believe. Them no. Reason not to I. Buy. Books to read with equipment for the blind, it. Is an act of faith in, the. Bookstore all the pages are, blank. At. The checkout, counter I, pay with a bill that earlier. The, grocer said was a 20 or I, sign, a blank slip, wherever. The cashier, tells, me. No. Big deal I say to myself walking. Out the door. Nobody. Knows everything, I. Smell. The city. Oil. And brown. The. Yellow Sun shines lemonade. Which. Means the, sky must be blue. Left. I'm sorry hemiplegia. Left. My. Bright half gets, all of it soft. Sharp. Prickly. Wet, mind. But. Press your head against, my right shoulder, I sense. Weight but. No warmth, your. Cheek to my right touch, stubble. Free whether. Or not you shave, under. My right fingers, your silver, hair holds, no silk, nor. Can I feel it part, into. Single, strands. I'll. Tell you how, I know you in the dark, left. Whispers. The details, right. Listens. And believes. Vigilance. And assembling. Since. I don't see and have no visual cues, I'm fascinated. By, how sated people dissemble, I bet. They keep their faces, unflustered. While. Behind their stationary, eyes another. Set of eyes checks, you out I. Say. This because in conversation. I try, to act undivided. While, in fact I'm on alert, for any glitch, in composure any. Revelation. Of an actor playing a part. It's. Often a matter of tone of voice, most. People don't realize it. Goes even further. That. I'm listening. To them breathe I hear, body language. Someone. Talking, with her right hand while, I hold, her left doesn't. Know how much I know from. The way her body moves. As. If she never touched a tie line to. A dock and guess. The boat was bobbing, up and down. When. The man you love is a blind, man. You. Can stop shaving your legs when. The temperature, drops and he'll, say he likes the change in texture, with, the seasons, you. Can leave that bit of silver in your bangs. Your. Fashion, advice will. Be gospel. When. He tells you you're, beautiful you'll. Know he's talking about something in you that's timeless. Something. About you that's, true if. Teasing. He, says smearing. Color on your cheeks is, what, a clown does. Explain. How a touch of flush can, change the feel of entering, a room and he'll, listen he'll. Always, listen. Like. The wide world is a raft with only two people on it, and he, finds you the more interesting, of the two, imagine. Going with him to the Rockies, he. Hears you sigh and asks. What the mountains look like all. You have are words. Awesome. Grandeur. But. When you describe, that feeling of seeing your one life for. The flicker it is he. Knows oh, he. Says oh. It's. Like hearing music in, a Cathedral. Listening. To New York radio in the middle of the night. There. In insomniac. City, where. The dial can easily, hold five languages, beyond, English and stations. Bleed into, each other, Emily. Dickinson. Satisfied. She could no longer see. To see, spoke. Through a piano, while, a Spanish, man half crying half, singing, declared, he, too would die if the one he most desired, did, not give him her undying, love. Between. Emily, and the Spanish man the, sitar, spoke, harmoniously. About, rock steady faith, while. Picking its way along a path, of dissonant, doubt. Commercial. Life finally. Put, to bed. Lennon. Woke, up from a good dream his, imagination, intact. He. Sang with the sitar, calling. The chutney and right a leftover, from last night's dinner to, put on spiritual. Livery, they. In turn inspired. The, beans in my cabinet, to take on a holy, presence and, the. Cabinet's, themselves dazed. At first, recalled. The distant, spirits of trees and. When. The whole house became, tuned like this to the radio, my. Father kindly. Caught a coach, from, that other Kingdom, to. Sit in my living room if only. For a moment and, casually. Talk with me of ordinary. Life. Donner. Lake I. Chose.
The Still mirror of the slate clean. Sky, preening. Above it, redwoods. Dublin, green, the. Hungry named ancient, history, and sudden, winter, this. Was August, from. The radio John. Lennon asked, us imagine. No heaven, we. Let your heavy ashes. Go, first. Smoke, then, silt, if you, had some other place in mind, you, never said or, I. Wasn't. Listening. Just then. Some. Holy Saturday. You. Will rise from your bed at 4:30 in the morning, to, find bitter weeping outside, your window and your, yard filled, with trees that were not there the night before, large. Leaves, everywhere, soaking, your hair with Dew the thick, smell of olives heavy, in the air. It. Is Peter, still. Crying, up through, the crust of the earth and, though. No, of crowed yet and there. Is no farm for hours you. Are poised for the marking, of betrayal. What. Will you do if, following, leopard, road or route 13, you. Should be drawn by. A congregation. Of curious, crows to. A scariet. Hanging, from a tree. The. Neck groove. Lapping. Over the rope his, toga tinted at the crotch and. What. If from the moon come strains of Hollywood's fourth cousin, to Gregorian, chant with, celluloid, clicks, and pops to, let you know this, is old and serious, and, what. If the man who made the cross sleep. Walks beside, the road in the underbrush, and, your. Father now remembers, that yesterday, between 12:00, and 3:00 the. Sky grew. Dark over your neighborhood. Will. You kneel down in the road and, pray run. To your home to take from your kitchen cinnamon. And nutmeg. The only spices, appropriate. For the Savior's tomb. Call. The police or. Walk. To your church in silence, hoping. That, the Sun upon your back is really, the. Large hand, of the fisherman. Reconciled. Exodus, and there's, one line, of Hebrew. Which. Is Adonai, Akkad, which means, God. Is one or there. Is only one God, a. Woman. Has painted, her doorpost. With blood so. That now in grey, half light she. Shakes a small shoulder, Pat's. A curved back and her, children, startled, awake, allow. Themselves to, be rushed into clothes. Trusting. The hush they, quietly, follow, as she, walks with their father as they. Join a river, a family, is coursing, from, home, they. Walk and walk a block, of bread dough on her back she is used to waking early, used. To hefting, carrying.
Hurrying. Tasks. Such. As the life they steal away from and she. Could almost feel, light, listening. To the sound of her children's, feet beside, her breathing. The baby's sour milk, head, resting. On her chest. But. She hears the cries of those other mothers. The. Ones waking, now to the, stiff, unblinking. Bodies, of their boys. Joined. By a thousand, voices the. Wail rises. Thicker. Than the dust they kick up as they, walk can. We let ourselves be. Loved, by, such a God, she'd. Ask this of her husband, but she knows what. He would say, Adonai. Ahad, what. Choice do, we have. Providence. I. Met. My girlfriend in yoga I was. There on a whim her, class across town had been canceled, meant. To be she, left, six, months later. Dumb. Luck I said. When. The tsunami struck, Thomas, good penny crossed himself and thanked God for his charmed life the, deal he was supposed to close, in Sri Lanka had, already fallen, through. Finally. When pushed to the wall my mother admitted, no. I, don't, absolutely. Know there's a heaven, nobody. Does. But. I don't want to take the. Chance by not believing I. Just. Shuffle the options, take. My dog in the car and hope there's no accident, or, leave. Her at home and pray for no fire yet. Last. Week at a Writers Workshop the. Leader dumped, a pile of cookie, fortunes, in front of my girlfriend take. One he said and see, if it doesn't somehow, surprise. Your poem. Wait. Till you hear this, mr., dumb luck she. Whispered to me tucking. It into her pocket. Back. In her room she. Unfolded. It. Stop. Searching. Forever. Happiness. Is right. Next to you I. Thought. She, meant it for me. She. Thought it was meant for her. First. Anniversary. Once. As a child I, had, my father close, his eyes for. A surprise. Then distractedly, walked, him into a wall. Now. Guiding. You I know, to mention, each curb each. Puddle, to be stepped over to. Place your palm on the chipped rail beside, the subway, stair before. I follow, you down, all. The while the tip of your folded, white cane, peeks. From the side pocket, of your, like. Something, inner and exposed. We've. Spent this year learning, one another, one. Night you asked, the color of my hair then. Repeated, the word brown an, abstract. Fact to, be memorized. The. Dark strands, were splayed, on your chest as I listened. To the beat beneath, skin, and rib, and thought, about trust, your. Life in your hand given. Over to mine. Why. I'm so mixed up about rhyme. Because. I'm just as mixed up about home, whether. I want dinner every night with the same people who. Might be kind to me or, just as easily start, a fight and. It's. Not just rhyme but rhythm the, way the two combined. Control. And shape a line. Soon. Lines. Make, stanzas, as walls. Make, rooms and houses, that, keep horses, from coming in to dine. But. Isn't it good sometimes to force things to go where they wouldn't otherwise in, the. Apparent safety, of a partner in a home isn't. There always a surprise oh. I. Am. A wild, pony galloping, across Chincoteague. Governed. Only by my desires. Unencumbered. By, familial, ties and. Simultaneously. A man, with the same woman every night my. Domesticated. Hand resting. Between her thighs. Six. Roller coasters. Ethan. Paul's Dan almost, at a run toward, those massive, structures, that rise and dip like, the outlines, of distant, Hills their. Plan to, conquer all of them despite, pounding, rain I read. Hemingway in, the shelter, of the food court where, they appear occasionally, flushed. And dripping in their ponchos, to, describe the fastest. The, longest, drop the. One that whips like the tail of the guide dog we left at home. Thumb. Keeping, place in my book I think, about what men build through. Shared bravery, and fear, and marvel. At my 12 year old willing. To hold Dan's hand in public, for this greater good. There. Are moments on, the storm runner the, Fahrenheit, when, I know he closes, his eyes, to. See how it feels. To Dan this. Man who, might have been his father had. I a, better, time of it early. In my own wild, ride. Questions. It. Was you darling, oh it. Was most definitely you. Even. In a dream I know the, exact angle of our noses and kissing, I know. The, fragrant, melange of fish and flower that, is your olfactory fingerprint. In the nakedness, of love. So. It was strange then that you were my sister, in this dream this, dream where, we giggled, and worried, that our father might innocently. Imprudently. Begin. Not. My sister, to be precise. But. In the role of sister. I've. Been asking myself all day why. Why. With, all the wanting, no, reduction, in our usual desire, would, you be made a sister.
To. Send me back to my real sister, with, better than I've given her before. To. Show me what long time lived, in love looks, like. And. What. If we all had sisters, who, would fall asleep with, us. Would. We learn earlier, to love. Come. My love. Isn't. It time we were family. Last. Poem, there. Among the Habs a, girl. With one prosthetic, leg, dances. At a club in short, skirts and a short, skirt and heel, on the, cover of Sunday, Styles, her. Silver, thigh textured. Like sequins. Hair. Over her face not. To hide but. She's lost in that song I, tape. Her photo next to my desk, remember. The morning I had you touched my calves the. Right thin, with palsy, the, other full. And strong. That. Same day we kissed like teens in, a New York cafe. Your. Guide dog curled, like a throw rug at our feet, anyone. Else making out you asked, just. Us, I said eyeing. An indifferent. Crowd and, there. Among. The haves those. With sight with, matching, limbs. You. Whispered that my breasts spell a perfect, see in Braille. So this, is how it feels I thought to. Inherit, the earth how. It feels. Loving one of my own, thank. You thank, you. Well. I don't think we left you much time for questions. Although, we'd be happy to stick. Around for a few minutes, but. Maybe we have time for a couple before we, hit the deadline. Um. And by the way don't take personally, what I said about asking questions this, is a different situation, we, actually like. Nosey so, and if, you can top questions, that the girls ask me one day I was teaching. Well. I'll be very surprised. So. Go for it. What. Was the nosiest question, you were asked, by a high school girl. Well. Mr. Simpson. So, you're, a guy and. Guys. Stand. Up when they pee. How. Do you do that how do you how, do you make, sure you hit the toilet so, that, was the question. Can. Anyone top that yeah. Really. Anything's anything's. Fair game and I know we're. We're. Gonna be, breaking. Up here soon but. Yeah. You're. Not very much. Ivory apple to hear the question. I'm, most a. Microphone. Is coming so I'm gonna repeat the question and then oh. When. You were younger were you able to discuss your disability with. Your friends, I. Mostly. Didn't, I I. Think. I might, be gay vibe that it wasn't okay to ask and. If. I had it to do over I would do it differently but. The, few times that it would come up mostly, what they would say is oh it's, barely noticeable, which would was kind of a way of. Dismissing. It, and and maybe playing along, with my own way of let's, just pretend it's not there.
I. Will tell you that I actually, didn't, know it, was visible until I was playing. With one of the less. Tactful. Girls, on the block and one, day she said let's. Walk around like, people who limp and, she got up off the fence where we were sitting and started, limping. And, I just tried to imitate her and then she said oh we'll just walk like you usually do. Nice. In. The back there. This. Question, is for I think, extra names if I came in late yes. But. My, question was about the. Editing process for, your poetry, how, do you engage that process. I'm. Sorry was it for both of us I. Dan. Yeah. The abbe the editing process. Well. What I find is that I used the device I was reading from at the lectern is called a Braille note and it's basically sort. Of like a Braille laptop. With a a, laptop. That has synthesized. Speech, and a Braille. Display and, I'd. Like to write my first drafts, on that, because, I can keep looking. At what I just read write, what I just wrote and. Somehow. It happened it, helps to have it right beneath my fingers I could, type. It on a computer, and listen to it with, speech or the Braille display on, that but it's a little clunkier, and so. What. I tend to do is first, drafts on the Braille note and then I type or. Transfer. The file. To, a computer, and, edit. It more, using. Speech. That. Sometimes helps me actually hear what it what, it's going to sound like but. It's also a. Little faster, in, some ways. So. Is that where. You. Thank. You sure. Anybody. Else. Sure. When. You taught at the high, school girls high school in Philadelphia, were. You like, a trendsetter or had they hired other teachers. With disabilities. Oh. I. Was. I. Wouldn't. I wasn't a trendsetter because, nobody that, I know I've did it after I was a I was a one-off. But. I, got, a lot of help I actually had, met the, superintendent. Of schools who I found, to be a really forward-thinking guy, and, told. Him of my interest. In teaching in, a. Public school, and he really. Welcomed. Me and actually, put me in touch with his. Administrative. Assistant who happened to she could see. Quite. A lot but she was technically. Legally. Blind and so, she had a real, understanding. Of, what kind of support I would need and so the. School district, hired. A classroom. Assistant to help me with writing. On the board and. Keeping. Track of classroom. Management, that. Kind of stuff and they. Also gave. Me my own set, of print. Books for whatever I. Was, teaching English forever, whatever novels. Or memoirs, or poetry I wanted my class to do because. I couldn't always guarantee. That I could get, my Braille copies. From a library, at, the same time that nobody else was using, the. Print, sets of books so they, were really, terrifically, supportive. Yep. I I'm. Curious if you were ever very, angry, or very depressed, about, by. Your faith at any given point if you if. Your poetry. Reflected. That at any point, in your lives because, the, poets the poems you. Read and. And, the stories that you recounted, seemed, like you've. Done a lot of work thinking about your. Lives and and, coming. To terms with your, with. Your disabilities. But, I'm. Curious if in that process there was deep depression. And anger or, any other feelings, that came out in, your first. You. Know first sure, um I. I. Never did, feel, angry, about disability. And anger. Is probably an emotion, that's not the easiest one for me to access and I think that's probably true for a lot of women.
It. Was more insecure or, less. Than those. Were the kinds of feelings that I had, to work towards, thinking, differently about. Yeah. I would say I didn't, have a lot of I'd, certainly didn't have deep depression. Some. Flashes, of anger. But. I think for one thing it helped that I I was, born blind, I had, an identical twin brother, who. Was also blind. And. Terrific. Parents. I think, I, would, say in. Retrospect. If. I if I had to point, to some place where I I can get angry it. It's, about the society. Which. Insisted. To. Our parents, that, they would not be very. Well suited, not. As capable, of. Bringing. Up a blind person, and teaching them, you. Know simple. Things like how to make a bed how to do. Various. Daily, living skills of course. They couldn't have taught us Braille. But I did find out later that a, few. People. Mostly middle, class or, above. Who. Had parents, with, some sense of agency or. Resources. Or, a, way of thinking outside the box. Were. Able to find a way for their, children, to get a. Public. School education. Early. On in. The in the 50s and early 60s. So. I wish. That, people. Had been more advanced a society, had been more advanced. And that's probably. Where I was would. Be most upset, you. Heard a lot of the good things that came from, being. At the school for the blind but I actually, there. Are a lot of things you, know being separated from my family. There. Was a there's a certain, amount of inhuman, inhumane. Treatment by, some, of the house parents. So. There were there were things that we, were subjected. To that, might. Not have been entirely necessary. I'll. Add that um I was. I was mainstreamed. My. Whole life which overall. Was a wonderful, thing but what I lacked, was. Having. Any friends. Or role models who looked and walked like me, and. I think that that's that's, where any negative feelings I had around it really came from was that I didn't, I didn't. See myself out in the world very much. Have. A question. We. Hear yes we can hear you fine. Will. You often, being teased cemented, because of your condition. Can. You say that again were, you often, being bullied, too tormented, oh. Okay. We're often bullied or teased because. Of disability, where you been I. Not. Fair not not, as not. Terribly much I mean there was there was the girl walk. You, know walk, like people who limp but there was you. Know a couple of kids in junior high but. No. I feel, very lucky that I was overall, treated, really well. When. I was in Julie. I. Think. Your mic is off again. Hello. Yes. Okay. I, remember. When I was in junior high I was but. Bully term, entities, because of my disability, and a lot of people don't know that I have us autism. Spectrum as, when. I reached a high school, face it started when I was transferring, to another high school sharps on which I graduated, in 2004, for a special program because. My previous high school Westbury high school it, Nusa doesn't offer that I. Was. Telling the special, person the reason why don't, wanna reach Towson because some, people are talking about me including.
Uh Classmate, say that was great I you know big and then. The, she. Said is, so well thought about you just ignored, him yeah, you're, smart you made Betty Grayson that and the, and this. The, receptionist. Say that miss Evans who's now disease and she, said people talk about me all the time she doesn't care just ignoring walk away. And. I was carrying the guilt. That. Was being bullied teased and, my friends say you're a nice to let it go. Don't. Worry about them you know they, somewhere. Else you here. Was. That helpful to you yes because. About, what. I found your story is, inspiring. To, me hmm. Thank. You thanks. For sharing yeah. We. Have a question, from our Palm Desert campus cuz we're live streaming down, there this, will be our last question will do closing remarks, so, we can go ahead and get started with the activity, portion, so, the question from the Palm Desert campus is, can. You mention the name of the book about ABC. Oh, my alphabet. Book, yes, it's. Called tangerines, and tea my, grandparents. And me and. It was published by Harry n Abrams in. 2005. And, it's illustrated by, yume, he oh. Well. Thank you all so much for being here and for being such a great. Listening. Audience was really lovely, thank. You very much for your questions, really, lovely. To be here with you and we, will be at. A station. In the activities, area. So if you didn't get to ask a question or you think of another one or you're. Too, polite to be nosy in public, we'll, hope that you'll come. Up and. That's. To remind me to collect, my stuff. Hope. You'll come up and please. Spend. Some time with us we'd welcome that. Excellent. So we did want to go ahead and thank our speakers for being here today so if we can give them a round of applause. Also. We would like to present both, mr.. Simpson and Miss. Grits with a certificate. Of appreciation. So. I'll go ahead and hand them to them now. Squeeze. In with y