Thank You Jeffrey Brown of PBS News Hour

Stephen Kuusisto to appear on PBS News Hour
Image: Logo of PBS News Hour

Tonight the PBS NewsHour will air a segment about my new book Have Dog, Will TravelThe piece features an interview with Jeffrey Brown whose reporting on literature and poetry is well known to book lovers across the nation. Jeffrey is also a poet whose first collection The News is available from Copper Canyon Press. In our time together we talked about poetry, civil rights, disability culture, dogs for the blind, the field of disability studies, and the power of literature to bring people together around social justice movements. And yes, there’s a lovely dog, Caitlyn, a sweetie pie yellow Labrador from Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

The program airs locally, in Syracuse at 7 PM. Check your local listings.


Stephen Kuusisto and HarleyABOUT: Stephen Kuusisto is the author of the memoirs Have Dog, Will Travel; Planet of the Blind (a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”); and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light and Letters to Borges. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright Scholar, he has taught at the University of Iowa, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Ohio State University. He currently teaches at Syracuse University where he holds a University Professorship in Disability Studies. He is a frequent speaker in the US and abroad. His website is StephenKuusisto.com.

Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey is now available:
Prairie Lights
Grammercy Books
Barnes and Noble

Have Dog, Will Travel by Stephen Kuusisto

(Photo picturing the cover of Stephen Kuusisto’s new memoir “Have Dog, Will Travel” along with his former guide dogs Nira (top) and Corky, bottom.) Bottom photo by Marion Ettlinger 

I called you last night…

On the telephone for the dead
Which is a shoe–though almost anything serves–
Which is to say I called you with one bare foot dangling

My chair tilted, my eyes turned to the ceiling
I called you and called
To say in life we’re rushed

Ill loved misunderstood
Failing Pleiades and Mozart
Poker games inside our heads

Upping the ante I talked to myself
Dear dead father
Memory rain on the roof

One morning, years ago…

One morning, years ago
Riding a bus in Finland
I saw it: every rider

Had a forest hangover
Though their hands
Were deceptively clean

Though they smelled of toothpaste
And shaving balm
They were shivering

With cold and fright
Unlying life had rushed in
Taking the place of night trees

What happens in the forest doesn’t stay there
Mushroom spores and bird calls
Follow us home–even the moon

Differs, that old parchment face
Knows our secrets
Like some tattle tale child

Oh Auden…

Time will say nothing but I told you so 
Wystan: What is less human than time?

Herakleitos was the dark one for a reason
River singing two step fatalism blues

Time says very little
Shabby little undertaker

Handed me my mother’s effects
A hospital gown and teddy bear

Stupid alders weeping
Time has his henchmen

Turn on the tap
Drown your tears

The bear has a floppy hat
Look at the bear…

Orwell, Still Shivering….

It’s easy to forget the revisionism and deceit that often follows a great writer’s death. Raymond Williams’ endless calumnies against George Orwell, falsely accusing him of selling out the left to the British police state is a classic example. When Trump cries “fake news” its
best to remember academics helped launch it.

Poor Orwell. Who never belonged at any dinner table.

Gore Vidal: “politics is knowing who’s paying for your lunch.”

No one ever paid for Orwell’s lunch.

Orwell: “If you hate violence and don’t believe in politics, the only major remedy remaining is education. Perhaps society is past praying for, but there is always hope for the individual human being, if you can catch him young enough.”

There is always hope for the individual human being.


“When recently I protested in print against the Marxist dialect which makes use of phrases like “objectively counter-revolutionary left-deviationism” or “drastic liquidation of petty-bourgeois elements,” I received indignant letters from lifelong Socialists who told me that I was “insulting the language of the proletariat.” In rather the same spirit, Professor Harold Laski devotes a long passage in his last book, Faith, Reason and Civilisation, to an attack on Mr. T. S. Eliot, whom he accuses of “writing only for a few.” Now Eliot, as it happens, is one of the few writers of our time who have tried seriously to write English as it is spoken”

Beware of writers who sniff loudly that so and so is “too accessible” and further beware of those who proclaim with rococo jargon they’re speaking for the proles.


“…let me repeat what I said at the beginning of this essay: that in England the immediate enemies of truthfulness, and hence of freedom of thought, are the Press lords, the film magnates, and the bureaucrats, but that on a long view the weakening of the desire for liberty among the intellectuals themselves is the most serious symptom of all. ”

This shivers me. Always has. “Cancel culture” is a symptom of a weakening desire for liberty and is rather a desire only for power over the ideas of others.

Did you know…

You were being tricked
When the moon pretended to be a heart

Yours sometimes but others also
Sunlight’s mineral

So cold and tight
I didn’t understand

Of course I read books
Stupid rock and roll

Amusement park graffiti
All the while

That moon picked my pockets
Parents weren’t helpful

The priests and doctors of the moon
Were just as poor

Ask this moon
Where’s Herakleitos

The dark one?

They Call it Mystic

They Call it Mystic

                --for Sanni Purhonen

When I cross the street
They say its a miracle
(You just can’t get away from it)

Buy a sack of cherries
Blind in the market
Vide et credere…see

And believe
(The blind eating fruit)
Cripples traveling

Hand in hand
Autumn winter
Crazy God lets them out

To stroll with
Sandalwood and incense
And their true bodies