Poem on Deafness as a Disability

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"For my Sister"

On Tue, 14 Nov 1995, Scott C. Benyacko wrote:
I found this in a recent journal of Irish poetry. It is a poem by a man named Richard Ryan.


For my sister

It is when I hear Mozart,
some birds, the scraping
of wind through pine and
she is there; sounds crowd
round her silence like clay.

It is then I hear the note--
an inkling of the sound
of death; not the mere
being without, but the no
knowing, at all . . .

Criticism of the Above Poem

Omer Zak offers the following criticism about the poem.

I am not sufficiently familiar with high-quality lyrics to comment on the artistic/literary merits of the poem. I can only comment on the ideological merits of the poem:

The poem discusses deafness in terms of disability, deficiency, of something which is missing from one's life. The feelings about deafness as disability are real and as valid as the alternatives.

But I'd like to see more poems which consider deafness as being differently abled (and I use this term here not just for Politically Correctness, but for the real meaning of it). Deafness as living in a different world with its own merits, its own art, its own culture.

If I were to facilitate a group of parents of deaf children, I'd let them read and feel both kinds of poems - those which express feelings of deafness as disability, and those which express feelings of deafness as being different yet able. I think this would help them overcome their grief-caused prejudices and make them capable of viewing their child's deafness in a new light.

Last update date: 
1996 Jan 20