Two of my poems, “On the Corner of Fourth and York at the Louisville Free Public Library,” and “Walking Aids,” have been published in Number 70 of Kaleidoscope: Exploring the Experience of Disability Through Literature and the Fine Arts.
I’m asking you to read the poems. Please. But come back and finish reading this post after you read the poems because I have some very important questions to ask you about reading.
Thank you for reading my poems, and returning.
These poems, from draft to publication, took four years. They are labors of love and I’m proud of them.
Paper to PDF
As a decade long subscriber of the twice yearly magazine, I submitted to Kaleidoscope on three occasions. It had been a goal since I first read the magazine to have my creative writing appear in it’s paper pages. They rejected “Three Legs of a Bedroom Life” in 2008, and “Mothers and Mallards” in 2010, but their letter stated that they saw “value” in the piece, and that was encouraging. In July 2012, I submitted “On the Corner,” “Walking Aids,” and “Beauty Scars.”
Gail Willmott, the editor, wrote me an email about a future (Issue 68) issue relating “to the fact that often societal and attitudinal barriers are more of a hindrance to people with disabilities that the actual conditions they must deal with… I believe your poems might fit well into that context.”
My poems never appeared in Issue 68, but the email said they planned on publishing them in Issue 70.
While I waited, the magazine sent me a postcard and an email telling subscribers they were going digital, and would no longer be mailing me a paper copy. Oh yeah, the subscription was now free! The digital version would be available in Portable Document Format (PDF) to view online or download to your computer, tablet, or smart phone. This hurt me as much as the rejections. I could afford the subscription and I wanted to see my creative writing on their printed pages. I’m afraid it’s not going to happen ever again, so I occasionally fondle Volume 9, Issue 4 of the Birmingham Arts Journal where my essay, “The Last Peg Leg” resides. (It’s available online as a PDF too.)
Last fall, I signed the contract, stipulating the pay of ten dollars per poem, and that the rights return to me upon publication. My first creative writing paycheck.
The magazine was posted online in January. I downloaded the PDF a few days later and started reading it on my laptop. I read the editor’s letter on page 5, “Going with the Flow,” and my poems on pages 50 and 51.
Since Kaleidoscope is only published twice a year, I told myself, ‘When I cash the check, I’ll print it out and read it cover to cover,’ which I did this week.
I enjoyed the digital mandala, like the one above, Brazil, by artist Becki Melchione (32). “A Different Direction,” a personal essay by Jenny Patton (6), “Mother’s New Leg,” a short story by Jeffrey Boyer (38), and “Talking the Talk,” a poem by Hal Sirowitz (29) were, for me, especially well-written and thought-provoking.
Having read all the other poems, I was finally ready to read my own again.
Did You See the typo?
Unfortunately, the next to last word in “Walking Aids” was spelled wrong. It should read “diamond-plated” not diamond-planted. When I looked at my original email submission it was correct.
I lamented over it for hours. It had taken me four years to find just the right words for this piece and somewhere along the line, a reader, editor, or AutoCorrect changed diamond-plated to diamond-planted. Maybe a copy editor was unfamiliar with the type of textured steel or aluminum. Most carbon fiber sockets have this distinct pattern because of the way the carbon fiber is weaved into the acrylic.
I read it as diamond-plated when I read it online. I was a lazy reader. I didn’t just read it, I read right through it.
Did your eyes and mind work in split second unity to correct the error for you? Did you read diamond-plated even though the words were “diamond-planted,” an instant AutoCorrect inside your head? Are you a better screen reader or page reader? Did you notice the typo and ignore it? Perhaps you saw the error and quickly deduced the correct word. Did the typo affect the reading of the poem? Did you stop reading, though you only had one more word to read? Did the wrong word affect the meaning for you? Did you ignore my advice, and only after reading about the typo did you read the poems? Please leave a comment about your reading experience.
Typos Are All the Rage
In his book, Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon says to go with the rage for a while, but don’t print it, just feel it, and then channel it into your writing. Oh, I’m feeling it!
Is there anything in this world diamond-planted? Is there such a thing? A Google search turns up nothing useful. “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one,” according to Neil Gaiman There’s a diamond planet, a planet made from carbon, discovered in 2012, according to Wikipedia. I wanted to find some obscure reference to diamond-planting as some Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) that turns a potato into a precious stone, but alas, that was not to be. Diamond-planted had no meaning.
“Time to Change.” Peter Brady
After several circuits through the kitchen into the living room, down the hall, then back into the kitchen, my anger, sadness, and disappointment subsided. I looked at the cover again, and I knew why, despite the error, Kaleidoscope was the best home for these poems. The title to Issue 70 is “Journeying to Acceptance.” I’ve embraced the typo. I was born with a disability, and in the kaleidoscope of paper and digital readers, the poem was disabled, leaving an imperfect reflection of my meaning.
My next leg is going to be made of wood from an actual tree, which, as it turns out is also the best source material, in my opinion, for reading poetry.