Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Audio Chapbook

One of the most surprising things about David and Daniel Simpson's Audio Chapbook is that it has not been published sooner. Nearly as surprising is that what they have accomplished is not done more frequently. The Simpson brothers, who are accomplished musicians as well as poets, are both blind and have chosen to publish their first book of poetry not in a traditional print medium and not even in braille, but as a CD. This was a felicitous choice because their work comes across beautifully in this format. There also a certain poetic justice in the fact that while a sighted person can enjoy Audio Chapbook every bit as much a non-sighted listener, they are the secondary consideration when it comes to the structure of the CD.

David Simpson leads off with his poem "Driving Blind," a great pick for someone who might be listening to the CD in the car:

With the windows closed and the Carly Simon tape turned up loud
I can't hear a thing out side the Hond Civic we're speeding in.
"Hey, why are you swerving left and right." I ask.
"To avoid a tractor trailor," she says, hardly missing a beat in her duet with Carly.
Its the stuff that dreams are made of.

From this opening poem, the Simpsons' poems range far and wide covering an amazing range of material. While many of the poems are very obvious contributions to the genre of disability poetry in their to description of experiences from a perspective that is inaccessible to a sighted person, it is in the context of this knowledge that other poems that make no direct reference to blindness are imbued with an even richer meaning. The subjects range from Euclid to religion, from condoms to Heidegger.

One of Dan Simpson's special interests in this volume is the exploration of the nature and value of poetry itself:

We all have something of the poet in us
which is why the book store clerk passing through ailes of Danielle Steele
and waiting for new words, has stopped telling her boyfriend that she loves him
and the crane opeator who would take the Phillies over Frost any day
nevertheless searches his mind before resigning himeself to sweatheart, darling, honey,
names already used up by previous lovers.

Audio Chapbook is much more than truth in advertising. And much more than a quick precis like this can capture. It deserves to be experienced.


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