Letters to Borges

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Overview

"[Kuusisto] is a powerful writer with a musical ear for language and a gift for emotional candor."?The New York Times

"A talented writer judged against any standard."?USA Today

Best-selling memoirist Stephen Kuusisto uses the themes of travel, place, religion, music, art, and loneliness to explore the relationship between seeing, blindness, and being. In poems addressed to Jorge Luis Borges?another poet who ...

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Letters to Borges

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Overview

"[Kuusisto] is a powerful writer with a musical ear for language and a gift for emotional candor."—The New York Times

"A talented writer judged against any standard."—USA Today

Best-selling memoirist Stephen Kuusisto uses the themes of travel, place, religion, music, art, and loneliness to explore the relationship between seeing, blindness, and being. In poems addressed to Jorge Luis Borges—another poet who lived with blindness—Kuusisto leverages seeing as negative capability, creating intimacy with deep imagination and uncommon perceptions.

"Alone"

Today I understood While drinking tea
& hearing rain That the word for birth
& the one for sin Come from a single root In Finnish — that tongue they Spoke when I was small.

Synnty, untranslatable,
Original sin nearly,
But softer,
Like water Carried a long way In a jar In May.

Stephen Kuusisto is a poet, essayist, and memoirist. He is the author of two collections of poetry and two memoirs, including the best-selling Planet of the Blind (W. W. Norton & Company, 1998). A graduate from and former teacher at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Kuusisto now teaches at Syracuse University in New York State.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In his second volume of poems (after Only Bread, Only Light), Kuusisto, who has been blind since birth, examines sight as poetic vision, as imagination. "In my head/ And my ruined eyes took the roses and broken shards/ Of twilight and built another village." He frequently addresses letters to Argentine poet Jorge Luis Borges, who was also blind. In language as lovely as it is insightful, he says, "You were right:/ Reality is not always probable or likely.…How do you tell strangers/ That people may live/ Who cannot see?" Using letters, song, folk dances, and even a mock book review and an elegy to Ray Charles, the narrator communicates a kinship that exists between people's versions/visions of what is real and what is not, what is seen and unseen. A friend once told the narrator that his poems were too "experimental." His reply? "I can't afford to let it/ bother me: The forests of blindness are like the daydreams of the robber bar-/ ons, you move the buildings and streets in your head…Eventually you imagine that the world looks like…Sparks over the dark water." VERDICT A book with wide appeal to many readers.—Karla Huston, Appleton Art Ctr., WI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556593864
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Pages: 110
  • Sales rank: 967,394
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Kuusisto is a poet, memoirist and essayist. Born in Exeter, New Hampshire, Kuusisto has been blind since birth, developing a gifted ear for rhythm, pace and sound. He attended Hobart College where he earned a BA and the University of Iowa, where he earned an MFA. He is the author of two collections of poetry and two memoirs, including the best-selling Planet of the Blind (1998). He teaches at the University of Iowa, where he holds dual appointments in the Writers' Workshop and the College of Medicine. His poetry and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Seneca Review, Partisan Review, and Poetry. He has been featured on National Public Radio, Dateline NBC, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.

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