Future Reflections         Special Issue: A Celebration of Braille

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Braille (a poem)

The world rests on my lap.
If my finger is the sky,
Then under it the fields prosper.
Row after perfect row of buds
Bid me gather all I can.
The harvest is food for thought.
       --John Lee Clark

About the Author:
John Lee Clark was born deaf in Minnesota to an all-deaf family. So his first language is American Sign Language. However, he and his father and younger brother have Usher syndrome, and he gradually became blind in adolescence. While attending the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, he took classes in Braille and orientation and mobility at the nearby school for the blind.

After graduation, he studied briefly at Gallaudet University before love interrupted his schooling. He and his sighted deaf wife, Adrean from North Carolina, moved to Minnesota, where he worked at DeafBlind Services Minnesota while they started up a small publishing venture called The Tactile Mind Press. TTM Press produced a quarterly literary journal, books, DVDs of ASL literature, and a popular e-zine of social commentary focusing on the signing community.

The business could not support their expanding family--they have three sons now--so they were forced to close the business after six years of operation. All along, John wrote extensively and won recognition for his work, especially in poetry. He appeared in such publications as Ache, The Journal, and McSweeney’s, and he was the first signer, deaf or deaf-blind, to appear in the prestigious magazine Poetry.

The recipient of many fellowships as well as the Robert F. Panara Award for Poetry, he was a featured poet at the Deaf Way II International Cultural Arts Festival. He edited the anthology Clayton: A Tribute to Clayton Valli as a memorial to the man known as the father of ASL poetry. He recently published his first collection of poems, Suddenly Slow, and his anthology of poetry by deaf Americans since 1827 will be coming out this March from Gallaudet University Press. He currently works as the director of Communication Facilitator Service, which provides telecommunications accommodations to deaf-blind consumers across the nation.

Suddenly Slow: Poems by John Lee Clark. 32 pages. $8. Available at <www.handtype.com> or <www.amazon.com>.

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