John Mikhail Asfour
John Asfour is the author of five volumes of poetry in English, the most recent of which, Blindfold, (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011) concerns his experience being blinded by a grenade in his native Lebanon at the age of 13. Three of his books have been translated into Arabic and one to French. He is the editor and translator of the landmark anthology, When the Words Burn: An Anthology of Modern Arabic Poetry (Cormorant Books, 1988, 1992, Maxville, Canada) and American University 1992, Cairo, Egypt as well as the University of Ankara 1994 which was short listed for the Canadian League of Poets Award. He co-authored with Alison Burch a volume of selected poems by Muhammad al-Maghut entitled Joy is Not My Profession, (Vehicule Press, 1994, Montreal Canada), shortlisted for the John Glasgow award, and his third book of poetry, One Fish from the Rooftop, (Cormorant Press, 1992, Maxville, Canada) was the recipient of the F.G. Bressani Literary Prize. His fourth book, Fields of My Blood, (Empyrial Press, 1997, Montreal Canada) received the Canada Council for the Arts Joseph Staufford award. He is a former professor of literature residing in Montreal, Canada. Dr. Asfour will publish two more books this year: Vancouver V6A: an anthology of Writings from the Downtown Eastside, (2011 Vancouver , Canada) and Metamorphosis of Ishtar by Nadine Ltaif, translated from the French (2011 Guernica Editions, Toronto, Canada).
A moving collection of poems on the distance surrounding disability.
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 a poem from Blindfold