As an occasional, amateur poet, I’ve always wanted to go to a poetry workshop. Yesterday I realized the dream and want to share the journey with you.

            The workshop was ideal: it was free, online and was about crip poetry (poetry with a disability lens). A half dozen participants from three continents analyzed a few poems and did a couple writing exercises.

            The first exercise was based on this poem:

I Am Not One of The

BY CHERYL MARIE WADE

I am not one of the physically challenged —

I’m a sock in the eye with gnarled fist
I’m a French kiss with a cleft tongue
I’m orthopedic shoes sewn on a last of your fear…”

Here’s my version:

                                                I’m Not One of the…

                                                                        Katherine Schneider

I’m not one of the “legally blind” (“just make it larger and I can see it”) people.

I’m a “see with my fingers”, bump into it, blind as a bat, walk at midnight on a starless night gal.

My blind eyes jerk, uncovered by sunglasses.

My Seeing Eye dog does the looking; my fingers and ears do the reading.

I feel your gaze and send back a force field of requests:

     Talk to me, not about me!

     Ask what I need, don’t assume!

     Walk/roll beside me.

We can listen to the leaves crunch, smell the bonfires, taste the cider, and  feel the north wind bringing fall to us all.

            The workshop leader talked a lot about the form of the poem on the page as important in communicating the content. I mentioned that hearing a poem changes the form or at least removes the visual dimensions of form. Most poetry uses a lot of visual imagery, which is obviously different for those of us whose imagery is nonvisual. 

            The workshop made me think and made me want to look for more poetry workshops and find some other blind poets to chat with.   In all, a fun way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.

            If you’re intrigued about crip poetry, you could read this essay:

https://wordgathering.syr.edu/past_issues/issue2/essay/ferris.html

or immerse yourself in some of the poetry in Beauty Is a Verb edited by Black, Bartlett and Northen.  

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