I’m awake in a strange hotel in Almaty, Kazakstan. It is five in the morning. I’ve come here to sing some songs and write poems with young disabled people. The air conditioning hums in this high rise corporate hotel and just now I’m considering my insignificance for the circumstances surrounding disability are vast and my boat is so small. In Kazakstan children with disabilities are home schooled. I know what this means. Disability is inconvenient, shameful, a domestic trauma. I also know more than I care to about embodiment disgrace.
My life is so tiny. All I can do is sing a little and hope to foster personal connections. Help people with the little I know and it’s certainly little enough. I’m a blind poet with some razzle dazzle. Yesterday I surprised some people by dancing with my white cane on the street.
ABOUT: 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.
(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