It’s wrong to ask someone for help.
You should never ever play with matches.
You shouldn’t let people see your underwear.
Don’t spit food out of your mouth.
Don’t throw up all over the floor.
Don’t say, “damn,” “shit,” “fuck,” or “hell.”
Don’t ever drink the water in Mexico.
Now it’s your turn. The above poem contains seven lines, each with seven words and is about seven things I learned not to do when I was growing up. Write your own such poem. It doesn’t have to be about seven deadly sins. It could be about seven favorite foods or songs. Please share your poem on your own blog or in the comment field below. I look forward to reading it.
From the author of Upwellingand Follow Your Dog comes a short collection of poetry and prose on family vacations, vision loss, animals, and other topics. It also includes a work of flash fiction. An introduction by the author explains what inspired this compilation.
I met Ann Chiappetta through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of writers with disabilities. I like how she writes about the lighter and darker sides of life. My favorite piece is one in which she describes how she rescued two baby sparrows, only one of whom survived, and the hard lesson her eight-year-old son learned from this experience. I recommend this book, which not only provides insight on vision loss but on other negative and positive aspects of life.
This collection starts with a prologue in which the author, who is also an artist, describes how knitting sustained her during difficult times after she lost most of her vision in 2007. The poetry and prose that follow are divided into twelve sections, one for each month of the year. Some pieces reflect the time of year while others discuss the author’s faith in God, nature, art, music, and other topics.
My favorite piece is “A Wintry Tale” because it reminds me of many tumbles I took in the snow when I was younger due to my lack of vision. I believe Lynda was still sighted at the time of this story, so I found that refreshing. My second favorite is “A Pennsylvania Christmas” because it brings back memories of my own childhood Christmases, even though I’ve never received coal in my stocking.
I’ve known Lynda for years through our association with Behind Our Eyes, a not-for-profit organization for writers with disabilities. I’ve always been amazed by how, despite her sight loss, her appreciation of art and nature comes through in her vivid descriptions. Even if you have normal vision, this book will open your eyes, ears, and heart to life’s wonders.
After a mostly brown Christmas, we have a white New Year, so I decided to share the following poem of mine that appears in the current issue of The Weekly Avocet. Click on the Play button below the poem to hear me read it. Happy New Year.
Winter Through the Senses
In the silent snowfall,
see flakes swirl.
Amid white-covered streets, sidewalks,
feel snow crunch beneath your boots.
Hear the rumble of a distant snow blower.
Indoors, feel the warmth of slippers on your feet.
Breathe the aroma of steaming cocoa.
Savor the flavor of its frothy, chocolaty goodness,
safe, warm while snow keeps falling.
Deon Lyons is a poet living in Maine who is totally blind. The poems in this collection are divided into four sections: blindness, nature, memories, and holidays. The author writes about losing his vision in 2010, spending time with his grandchildren, and other topics. Each section begins with narrative describing the poems in that particular section. At the end of the book, there’s another narrative passage in which the author talks about his writing and his hopes for the future.
I met Deon several years ago through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of disabled writers to which we belong. Having worked with senior citizens for fifteen years, some of whom, like Deon, lost their vision later in life, I marvel at how positive Deon is in his poetry, despite frustration and depression that accompanies loss of independence. I also enjoyed reading about his childhood memories. Ready, Set, Poetry, is Deon’s second book, and I would like to read more by him.
I recently learned, though, that Deon is battling a life-threatening form of cancer. He is currently in a rehabilitation facility, where he is receiving chemo and physical therapy in the hope that he will have at least two good years with his family. You can click here to learn more. If you believe in the power of prayer, I suggest you include him. I hope that despite his illness, Deon and his family have a lot to be thankful for on this day.
Now here’s a rare treat, a sample poem from Deon’s book. This was recorded by fellow blogger Lynda McKinney Lambert, another member of Behind Our Eyes who also knows Deon. Because there’s no easy way to translate a Kindle file into braille, I was unable to record myself reading this or any of Deon’s other poems. When Lynda sent me this recording so I could share it with his family, I thought this would be a fitting ending to my review. I hope you think so too.
The release of this author’s poetry collection coincided with his 75th birthday. Most of the poems in this collection are apparently based on observances in public places. A good example of this is the title poem, in which an elderly man is seen cutting a sandwich in half and serving one half to his aging wife. Others are about ordinary life events such as a car pulling to the side of the road and the couple in the car changing places. The book also includes a longer narrative in which the author reflects on a house where he and his wife first lived, upon learning of a murder that was committed there after they moved out.
I like Ted Kooser’s poetry because it tells a story in a manner that is straightforward and not abstract. I was fortunate several years ago to attend a writers’ conference at which he was the keynote speaker. One point he made was that a poem’s title can be used to set the scene.
This is exactly what he does with his own poems. The title tells the reader either the location of the story in the poem or what action takes place. The poem is thus written around the title.
Take, for example, “At Arby’s, at Noon.” He starts by describing a typical lunch hour in a fast food restaurant. Then, he paints a picture of a woman who is blind kissing a man with a disfigured face while life goes on around them.
For this reason, I highly recommend Ted Kooser’s work. Even if you don’t like poetry, I think you’ll appreciate the way he weaves words into stories about ordinary and not-so-ordinary events.