My Dyslexiaby Philip Schultz
Despite winning the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2008, Philip Schultz could never shake the feeling of being exiled to the "dummy class" in school, where he was largely ignored by his teachers and peers and not expected to
“A success story . . . proof that one can rise above the disease and defy its so-called limitations on the brain.”Daily Beast
Despite winning the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2008, Philip Schultz could never shake the feeling of being exiled to the "dummy class" in school, where he was largely ignored by his teachers and peers and not expected to succeed. Not until many years later, when his oldest son was diagnosed with dyslexia, did Schultz realize that he suffered from the same condition.
In his moving memoir, Schultz traces his difficult childhood and his new understanding of his early years. In doing so, he shows how a boy who did not learn to read until he was eleven went on to become a prize-winning poet by sheer force of determination. His balancing actlife as a member of a family with not one but two dyslexics, countered by his intellectual and creative successes as a writerreveals an inspiring story of the strengths of the human mind.
"Art's power of persuasion resides in the small personal details of one's own story, and if it weren't for my struggle with dyslexia, I doubt I'd ever have become a writer or known how to teach others to write." In this touching memoir, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Schultz (Failure) tackles his struggle with dyslexia-a condition he only learned he had when his son was diagnosed. Schultz paints a precise and compelling picture of how his brain works, how he sees himself, and how he thinks others have seen him throughout his life. As an adult, he finally recognized his own worth: "Perhaps I was someone whom others could admire, someone more than a permanent member of the Dummy Class?" From its impact on family members, to difficulties in school that may or may not be resolved with diagnosis, to its effect on social interactions and relationships, Schultz describes how dyslexia touches all areas of life. His affecting prose will inspire compassion and leave readers with an understanding not only of dyslexia, but of the lifelong challenges that someone with disabilities may face.
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Writers have a way with words. In the case of this writer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2008, words are more likely to have their challenging way with him.
In a memoir as brief as a poem, Schultz (Failure, 2007, etc.) reflects on his dyslexia, a lifelong disability that was not diagnosed until late into his adulthood. He learned, with difficulty, to read at age 11. He was generally regarded as simply a stupid youngster. His mother had faith that her only child was truly bright, but his father was not helpful. The boy's different neurological wiring produced a lonely, unresponsive child, and he was invited by his school's administration to leave. And yet the poet survived, learned to process information and to read and write—though it's not easy, even now. Schultz would like, mostly, just to be left alone to cogitate in his own way. Reading still does not come quickly. The author loves books, he writes, "except actually reading them." Yet he demonstrates a lambent, odd contact with words: "Anything whispered, insinuated or abbreviated becomes in my mind a mumble-jumble bargain-basin [stet] gibberish." His memoir, jogged into realization when he followed his Pulitzer Prize with an address at a school for the learning disabled, was not effortless. Today he heads a school that teaches writing. The author recognizes that his teenage son shares the same diagnosis, but this is his own story, not his child's. Is the very notion of a dyslexic author an anomaly? How does the mind of a dyslexic work? Here, at least, are the answers for one man alone.
Under the rubric of "inspirationally instructive," Schultz offers a compact book. Yet, writing with a focused mind, he dilates at length on the struggle within that mind.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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- 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.40(d)
Meet the Author
Philip Schultz is the author of collections of poetry including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Failure, and the memoir My Dyslexia. He is the founder and director of the Writers Studio and lives in East Hampton, New York.
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