I just finished reading a book by this title by Marilyn Brandt Smith. I met Marilyn through Behind Our Eyes, a group of disabled writers. We published an anthology of our stories, poems, and essays in 2007, and we produce an online magazine, Magnets and Ladders. Marilyn has been totally blind most of her life, but that hasn’t stopped her from teaching blind children in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer, counseling and teaching blind adults here in the United States, raising a family, working with her husband, and of course writing.
Marilyn was born with glaucoma and lost all her vision as a result of an accident at school when she was thirteen. She grew up in Texas, was educated at the state school for the blind, and received a teaching degree from TexasStateUniversity. After her volunteer work with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, when she couldn’t get a teaching job in the U.S. because of her blindness, she got a Master’s degree in counseling psychology from TexasTechUniversity. She was an administrator, counselor, and teacher of blind adults in WashingtonD.C. and Utah before returning to Texas.
Marilyn’s writing was first published in a poetry anthology while she was in college. She later wrote articles about her work with the Peace Corps and other essays about disability. She also submitted pieces about music and technology to club newsletters. She helped blind college students with research and copy editing.
She moved to Louisville, Kentucky, when she married her husband Roger. They had two children. Jayson was born in Texas and their daughter Carol Ann was adopted from Korea. Marilyn helped her husband in his piano store and vending facility. For ten years, her family bred and sold boa constrictors. She loves to cook and hopes to publish a book of recipes she contributed to other cookbooks and magazines. She has also written flash fiction. She edited Behind Our Eyes, the anthology we published in 2007, and she and I and others in our group edit Magnets and Ladders.
Chasing the Green Sun is a collection of stories, poems, and essays written mostly by Marilyn. She collaborated on a few of them with her husband Roger and other authors. The book is divided into twelve sections, each corresponding consecutively with the months of the year. Some of the pieces are seasonal. Others were originally published in Behind Our Eyes and Magnets and Ladders. You’ll wonder what will become of a woman in a hospital on New Year’s Eve after her husband has beaten her. You’ll laugh when a blind man tells a policeman who asks him to move his van, “You don’t want me behind the wheel.” You’ll be moved when Marilyn describes her and her husband’s decision to give up a third adopted child who is sighted because they thought the little girl would be happier in a home with sighted parents. You’ll empathize with Marilyn when you read her poem about being home alone during a snowstorm. Another essay details how Marilyn’s father influenced her life while she was growing up and his reaction to the accident that left her totally blind when she was thirteen. She also writes about her Peace Corps volunteer experiences. The title comes from an essay in which Marilyn describes how her son Jayson perceived the moon when he was a child. Jayson was also born blind.
This book can be downloaded in recorded format for free from Marilyn’s Website. Most of the narration is done by Bonnie Blose, a friend of Marilyn’s who is also blind and hosts a book discussion group on Accessible World, a site that provides Web activities for the blind. Marilyn reads a few of the pieces herself. One such poem is a spin-off of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” from the point of view of the mouse with “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music playing in the background. Both Marilyn and Bonnie do an excellent job of narrating in this recording produced by Marilyn’s husband Roger and her son Jayson.
This book can also be purchased in print from Create Space and Amazon, and it will eventually be available for Kindle. If you can read print without difficulty, I urge you to buy the book so you can support this author. Chasing the Green Sun would make a great holiday gift for anyone who loves a good poem, story, or essay.