Earlier this spring, accomplished blind author, poet and music lover Stephen Kuusisto published his memoir Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey. The book is a love poem in prose to his guide dog Corky, a yellow Labrador who helped him discover a newfound appreciation for travel and independence.
On May 17 at 7 p.m., Kuusisto will join us at LightHouse headquarters for our latest episode of LightHouse Listenings: Cover to Covers with Stephen Kuusisto. He’ll talk about his new book, accompanied by live braille readings of passages and live musical performances of a selection of songs mentioned in the memoir. Tickets to LightHouse Listenings: Cover to Covers are $10 for students and seniors and $15 to the general public. Snacks and libations will be served.
Kuusisto says of his book:
“It’s a book about focus. About giving myself and my precious ego over to something that’s decidedly not me. In this way it’s a sixties book—spiritually optimistic without the irritable reach of staid determinism or contemporary vexation about using the word soul.
Learning to go places in the company of a superb dog was like writing poems: I had to open my head and heart.This is a book for readers who like to walk, who love animals, and who still have Walt Whitman on their bookshelves. Corky allowed me to walk in New York. She took me back to my childhood home in Helsinki. She walked on the Golden Gate Bridge. She drifted in a Gondola past Mozart’s apartment in Venice.
Corky changed my life so thoroughly that I wanted her to have a book of her very own.”
About the Author
Stephen Kuusisto was born legally blind—but he was also raised in the 1950s and taught to deny his blindness in order to “pass” as sighted. Stephen attended public school, rode a bike, and read books pressed right up against his nose. As an adult, he coped with his limited vision by becoming a professor in a small college town, memorizing routes for all of the places he needed to be. Then, at the age of 38, he was laid off. With no other job opportunities in his vicinity, he would have to travel to find work.
This is how he found himself at Guiding Eyes paired with a labrador named Corky. In this vivid and lyrical memoir, Stephen Kuusisto recounts how an incredible partnership with a guide dog changed his life and the heart-stopping, wondrous adventure that began for him in midlife. Profound and deeply moving, Have Dog, Will Travel is a spiritual journey, the story of discovering that life with a guide dog is both a method and a state of mind.
He is also of Planet of the Blind (a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”), and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light and Letters to Borges. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright Scholar, he has taught at the University of Iowa, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and The Ohio State University. He currently teaches at Syracuse University where he holds a University Professorship in Disability Studies. He is a frequent speaker in the US and abroad. His website is StephenKuusisto.com.