Name a Blind Poet

I am intrigued by how poets are influenced by their visual sense. This is reflected in their verse, as well as the use of accompanying photographs and other visual artwork. And many of you practice both Taiga and Haiga poetry.

This leads me to wonder about the poetry of blind poets. First, which poets were/are blind? Besides Homer and John Milton, I was at loss to name any others, so I started a small research project.

Please help me build a list of blind poets.

Here are those I have identified thus far: the ancient Greek poet Homer, 17th century English poet John Milton, 15th century Hindi poet Sant Surdas, contemporary Australian poet Michelle Taylor, 9th century Persian poet Rudaki (alledgedly blind), 18th century Irish poet Anthony Raftery, 9th century Arab-Spanish poet Muqaddam Ibn Mu afa al-Qabri, 19th century American hymn writer and poet Fanny Crosby, 19th century Jewish-American poet Penina Moise, Haldane Burgess, Shetland’s famous blind poet, Irish poet Raftery, 10 century Sufi-Buddhist poet Abdul Ala-al-Marri, and Asik Veysel, 20th century Turkish songwriter and poet.

In advance, thank you for your help.

About these ads
This entry was posted in Blind Poets, Disability Art, Text by Don Iannone. Bookmark the permalink.

About Don Iannone

Don Iannone is the owner of Donald T. Iannone & Associates (DTIA), an economic and community development strategy and research consulting company, and he is a poet and photographer living in Bratenahl, Ohio. Don's career spans 35 years in economic and community development and the environmental quality field. Prior to starting DTIA in 2000, he was director of the economic development and environmental business centers at Cleveland State University (CSU) for 15 years. Prior to joining CSU, he worked for Lakeland Community College, Greater Cleveland Growth Association, and Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA). His educational background includes undergraduate studies at Cleveland State University, and graduate studies at Case Western Reserve University, University of Oklahoma, and the University of Philosophical Research. He is the author of two books of poetry and three books combining his poetry and photography. Don gives talks and seminars on his creative work and economic and community development.

14 thoughts on “Name a Blind Poet

  1. Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges was blind. Obviously, Helen Keller.

    It’s interesting to me to note the senses writers invoke in their poetry. For example, poems that utilize smell, sound, or touch, can be just as intriguing, perhaps even moreso, than those that rely only upon visual aids.

    What do you think, Don?

  2. Aurora,

    Thank you for the two additions. I forgot about Helen Keller’s poetic work, and Borges is a great example.

    I share your interest in what senses poets invoke in their poetry, and how these are brought out in us as we read and listen to their poetry.

    I think at times I over-rely on my visual sense, although I also have strong senses of smell and taste. Touch is pretty strong for me as well. Listening for me has been a lifelong quest. (I hate to generalize, but my experience supports what many have said: Women often tend to be better listeners than men.) I have become a better listener as I have grown older. And of course as we grow older, the physical aspects of our senses decline (hearing, sight, taste, smell, etc.)

    Our senses orient our mental attention and vice versa. When someone says “pay attention,” this statement can mean different things to different people because their attention is directed by their strongest senses.

    Going back to poetry, I also like to invoke a “mood” in my poetry, which sometimes only comes out when I read a poem aloud. Mood is an amalgamation of senses to create an overall emotional feel or “sense.”

    My poem for today (We Are All Blind) tries to get at the issue of how our perceptions, beliefs, knowledge, values, and all else both open and shut doors in our ability to fully and openly experience our world. Today’s poem builds on yesterday’s poem (Borderlines and Boundaries), which tried to get at the issue of how our use of judgment (where we choose to place our attention) separates us from our world.

    Withholding judgment is a challenge for most of us, but I will say it has been for me at points in my life. A sign of my own spiritual progress is my reduced need to rely on judgment. It’s an insidious thing, coming out in intellectual arrogance, professional superiority, and other ways. and yes, usually such things reflect our own insecurities about our life and the world.

    Again, thank you for the 2 suggestions. Please let me know if you think of more.

    I plan to spend some time exploring the poetry of “blind” poets. Watch for more on this subject. I will start by reading some of their works to see what I learn.

  3. Thanks for your thoughtful answer, Don.

    I look forward to seeing just how you will explore this subject further. :)

  4. I love this topic. At one point in my life I was legally blind due to a medical condition. I was taking art classes and writing poetry, which kept me alive during a very painful time in my life. I was not expecting to live during that time and I really think the poetry and art work kept me going.

    I like your poems!

    Terri

  5. Thanks for all this. I was reading some poetry, and since I work at the Texas School for the Blind, I got interested in the question of blind poets. I also enjoyed your links about Buddhism &c.

    But where is the poem “We are all blind?” That, I do not see.

    Paulette Delahoussaye

  6. Came across your question randomly. Think another epic example of a blind poet would be Joyce.

    But Borges has a very vivid essay on the experience of going blind. It’s in a publication of seven lectures he gave titled “Seven Nights.”

  7. It seems to me that the question offers more than ‘blind’. I found this very interesting conversation because I was wondering what imagery would be used by a blind poet but …..my consideration was really ‘blind from birth’. I am interested in all topics here but what brought me here was that….I want to read the poetry of the poet blind from birth. My interest also included ‘deaf’ from birth. I want to see how my experience of sight and sound is different , if it is, from one who sees not and hears not. I imagine imagery I cannot really understand perhaps for it will be imagery I have never seen.….I sense perhaps I am blind to what the blind poet sees. I have been listening to the work of Homer and he speaks of rosy red dawn and silver bowls and wine dark sea. Was Homer blind from birth? (I didn’t know till just now that Homer was blind). Thank you for this conversation. Helen Keller did have some memory of a world of sight and sound. All of this is fascinating.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s