Letters to Borges

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9781556593864: Letters to Borges

"[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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About 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.

From Booklist:

Kuusisto returns to verse with his second book of poetry, following Only Bread, Only Light (2000), and two well-received memoirs, Planet of the Blind (1998) and Eavesdropping (2006). Kuusisto delivers on the epistolary promise of his title, addressing a number of poems to the great writer Borges; a fitting recipient, given Kuusisto’s visual impairment, as ocular degeneration eventually rendered the Argentine completely blind. Kuusisto’s poems speak to Borges through evocative, otherworldly images: clouds inside bone marrow, Paracelsus in the streets of New York peddling white flags with blue crosses, the wet interior of a windowpane. Kuusisto’s affinity for Nordic countries surfaces here in the form of Helsinki’s sheer blue sky, a topsy-turvy Finnish waltz, wild grass occupied by orchestral crickets. If we account for Kuusisto’s restricted sight, the brilliance of his verse acquires deeper resonance, for his work imagines a realm between sight and sound composed of the sensory stimuli we all know and recognize, but split, fractured, and juxtaposed to inhabit the mind’s ear of his readers, a feat unique to this truly gifted poet. --Diego BŠez

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