Speaking in Tongues (This Is Autism)

Today is the “This Is Autism” flash blog event, and the moderators of the official TIA flash blog (http://thisisautismflashblog.blogspot.ca/) have invited people to share what autism means to them. This is my contribution. Pop on over to Raven’s Wing Poetry to read it.

Raven's Wing Poetry

Hello there! If you’re looking for this poem, it has been published in Red Wolf Journal.

Click here to read it.

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Listen (An Open Letter to Autism Speaks)

Autism Speaks has decided to hijack Washington and present its own agenda about autism. Time and time again, they have not included autistic people in their leadership, promoted “cause and cure” thinking about autism, has not represented the interests of autistic people, and continually paints autism as a tragedy. I speak best in verse, so please consider jumping over to Raven’s Wing Poetry and reading my open letter (poem) to Autism Speaks. Oh yeah — and please share. 🙂


Raven's Wing Poetry

after Michael Stipe

Listen: I have a voice. It is my own.
I did not install you as a little charm box
to hang in the back of my throat
and chime discordant when I send
wind from my sails up to the world

to produce sound – nor did
I rip a little patch of my soul from
the cathedral of strings inside my neck
and give it to you to own and
sound as you please.

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Putting the Awe in Autism: My Poem on TV and Other Thoughts

Note: this post is modified from a post which originally appeared on Raven’s Wing Poetry.

First, an announcement: an excerpt of the video of my poem, “You Don’t See It”, was featured in a Long Island TV FIOS segment about Awe In Autism.

The segment has been posted on MyLITV’s website in two videos. Part 1 features Awe In Autism, its founders (Deborah French and Kim Covell), and some of the work featured on the site, include the excerpt of my poem. Part 2 features “for dylan”, a song and music video which the founders call “the song behind the Awe in Autism” project.

In and amongst this bit of news and self-promotion, I feel the need to express a couple of things. First of all, if I haven’t said it before, my thanks and gratitude go to Awe in Autism for giving the opportunity for my poetry, namely “You Don’t See It”, to be featured on their site. AWE has given many autistic artists, musicians, poets, and others an opportunity to have their work seen, heard, and accessed. Also, as Kim Covell states in the first video, artists with autism often have a harder time self-promoting, and while I’ve gotten used to it thanks to the Internet, I must say I still find the task daunting sometimes. I am grateful for the opportunity for my work to reach a wider audience and go beyond this blog thanks to AWE.

Secondly, as I have said before, “You Don’t See It” is probably my best statement and expression to the world of what having Aspergers/being autistic is like. The experience of self-discovery and acceptance has been joyful and at times painful and overwhelming — but probably the most significant thing I could say is that is has been enlightening. And through it all, the craft of writing and poetry have been a conduit and a means for this journey.

Writing is my native language. I am much, much better at the written word than I am at oral communication: there are times that my tongue fails, but praise God my pen does not. This is part of my reality as an autistic person, and is true for many others. The poetry helps me say what sometimes my lips cannot. I hope I have given you, the readers of WWA, at least a glimpse or a peek at what that reality — and my reality as a whole — is. I also hope that through the writings on this blog, both prose and poetry, that I have reached you, moved you, connected with you, made you think, and most of all, made you feel.

Finally, please consider not only watching the videos of the segment but visiting Awe in Autism to see the vast, wonderful spectrum of art by creative and talented autistic individuals. I can promise you that you will not be disappointed, but amazed at the breadth of expression the site has to offer.



Thank You, ANCA

Last night was the 2010 Inaugural International Naturally Autistic Awards ceremony, held in Vancouver, British Columbia. This was the first time that the ANCA Foundation had opened up its Naturally Autistic event to those outside of Canada, hence why it was an inaugural event. And ANCA, its supporters, and the award recipients made history last night.

The honorees at last night’s ceremony, both in the adult and child categories, did the Autistic Community PROUD. With autism, the focus has oftentimes been on our limitations, and this has sometimes given rise to assumptions and myths that we cannot create artistic works of value. The winners of this year’s awards stand as a testament that those assumptions and myths are wrong.

Here is the list of last night’s winners, courtesy of Blog Talk Radio show host Scott Jackson:

  • Adult Visual Painting Arts: Maria lliou, Long Island, New York, USA
  • International Literary Award: Nicole Nicholson, Columbus, Ohio USA
  •  Performing Arts: Scott Siegel, California, USA
  • (Children) Performing Arts Award: Gina Marie Incandela, Florida, USA
  • Judge’s Award, Performing Arts & Visual Arts Awards: Kristie Dix, Australia
  • Judge’s Award, Performing Arts Award: Michael van Houten, B.C., Canada
  • Arts Award: Dani Bowan, California, USA
  • Award in Theatre: Tammy Australia
  • Mentor Award: Tim Mueller of Autism Rocks in Eugene, Oregon, USA
  • Achievement Award: Joel Anderson, California , USA
  • Community Leadership International Award: Debbie Mkye, Queensland, Australia

Yes, you read the list right – I won an award in the Adult International Literary category, for a collection of poems that I submitted in mid-July to the foundation entitled “Novena”.

I am honored and happy to be among such talented, professional, and exceptional individuals as the above honorees at last night’s awards. Unfortunately, my fiance and I were unable to attend the ceremony – however, at the request of ANCA founders Leonora Gregory-Collura and Charlie Collura I sent in a pre-recorded acceptance speech as well as a pre-recorded reading of a poem from the collection, “You Don’t See It”. Both videos were played during last night’s ceremony; they are embedded into this post below.


(You can read the original poem on this blog or Raven’s Wing Poetry.)

I also had the privilege to call into Ralph Watley’s KXBG show on Blog Talk Radio last night and speak to callers, Leonora, and the other award recipients and attendees of yesterday’s event remotely from my home: you can listen to the archived broadcast here. I was flabbergasted, honored, humbled, and touched by a lot of the responses I heard to my work – at one point, I was told that the video of “You Don’t See It” which was played at the ceremony moved people to tears, and Kelly Green of AutismHWY mentioned that my poems helped her understand what was going on in the mind of her own son, who is also autistic. This was probably one of the first times in my life that I really understood how poetry can reach people, and that I really felt that my work moved listeners. And for that, I feel truly happy and blessed.

Thank you’s go to Leonora, Charlie, and the rest of the ANCA Foundation for such a historic event and opportunity to recognize artistic talent of both adults and children on the autism spectrum. Also, Kelly Green and AutismHWY were instrumental in getting the word out about the awards, both during the art submission period (which is how I found out about them) and promoting and publicizing last night’s ceremony. Last night’s event was truly historic and significant, and I am honored to have been a part of it as an award recipient. Continued blessings to ANCA and all of its friends and supporters, as well as my fellow award winners. This upcoming year looks to be truly promising.



P.S. You can read last night’s program as a Uniflip document.