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Author and Disability Activist to Speak at Juniata

(Posted February 16, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Stephen Kuusisto, author of the memoir "Planet of the Blind" and a nationally known disability advocate, will lecture at Juniata College as part of the college's Distinguished Speakers Series at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 23 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Kuusisto, who has been blind since birth, is a nationally respected advocate for the disabled who is a published poet, memoirist and speaker. He has written essays on disability for National Public Radio and has appeared as an advocate on such television programs as "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Dateline NBC," and has appeared on shows on the BBC, Voice of America and A&E Network.

His most recent book is "Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening (2006)," a work that takes the reader from Kuusisto's childhood listening experiences, such as memorizing bird calls, to adulthood, where the writer learns to sightsee by ear.

He also is a published poet, writing the collection "Only Bread, Only Light" and publishing poems in such journals as Poetry, The Bark and Partisan Review. He helped edit "The Poet's Notebook: Excerpts from the Notebooks of Contemporary Poets."

Kuusisto is professor of English at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, where he also serves as the Public Humanities Scholar at the Carver Center for Macular Degeneration in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
From 200 to 2007, Kuusisto worked at Ohio State University as an assistant and then associate professor of English. He taught in the Disability Studies Program. He also was a Fellow at Ohio State's Moritz College of Law's Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies.

He is a graduate of the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa, earning a master's of fine arts degree in 1980. He is an active member of the Academy of American Poets, PEN, the Association on Higher Education and Disability, and the Modern Language Association.

He earned a bachelor's degree in English in 1977 from Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y. He taught at Hobart & William Smith Colleges from 1985 to 1993 as an adjunct professor. He also was an instructor at Iowa from 1983 to 1985.


Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.