Sunday, December 25, 2011

Blindfold, The latest creation by John Mikhail Asfour, December 25, 2011

I have been blessed to have been surrounded by genuine people throughout my life. One such person is my dearest cousin, John Mikhail Asfour. He has always shown me an immense ability to love and to ask for little in return.

Through tragedy as a young man he found purpose. In a conversation earlier this morning, I was informed by John of his most recent publication. It is named 'Blindfold' and can be found on websites ranging from Barnes&Noble to Amazon.

The following is quoted from McGill-Queen's University Press, and includes his poem 'Silver Threads.'

'Blinded by a grenade in Lebanon as a teenager, poet John Asfour came to Canada armed with James Joyce's words, "For the eyes, they bring us nothing. I have a hundred worlds to create and I am only losing one of them." Blindfold investigates the ways in which disability influences our lives and is magnified in our minds. In a series of thematically linked poems, Asfour draws the metaphor of the blindfold across the eyes of sighted citizens who are impaired by estrangement, emotional complexity, and social pressures.

A sense of exile and belonging dominates the poems, following the journey of a blind man whose life in his new land has been hampered by prejudice and barriers to communication. Exposing the rich and surprising possibilities of a life that has undergone a frightening transformation, Blindfold relates feelings of loss, displacement, and disorientation experienced not only by the disabled but by everyone who finds themselves separated from the norm.

 Silver Threads

He recalls

the absence of sound, the impossible silence

the disappearance of light.

He is only aware of

the movement of his

mother's hand inside

her purse, looking

for her handkerchief.

He recalls her

warning not to play

with unknown objects

the type that explode on impact. Later,

he lies in the dark remembering

how she pointed out

the silver threads of the morning light

just the day before

and he sparkles

with guilt.

Review quotes

"Asfour provides readers with a deeply moving glimpse into the frustrations and disorientation of physical loss, as well as the heroic effort to find the language and metaphors that will translate his experience into poetry." Harold Heft, The Montreal Gazette

John Mikhail Asfour is a translator and former professor of literature. The editor of the landmark anthology When the Words Burn: An Anthology of Modern Arabic Poetry, he has written four previous books of poems.

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